For those of us who are not avid hunters, it might be a surprise to learn that there is a spring turkey season in many states. While almost everyone is familiar with “hunting season” as it launches on or near Thanksgiving (and usually refers to deer), there are various hunting seasons throughout the year and one of them for spring is turkeys. While I know a couple patient people who hunt turkeys with bow and arrow, I’m not sure what the season is for that and I’m just not that patient (or good) anyway. Shotguns? That’s a different story. I have a hope of hitting something with the right shotgun.
Shotguns for fowl hunting are obviously very different from the shotguns we typically use for law enforcement. Let’s take a quick look at some of the characteristics and a few shotguns that would be more than suitable for the spring turkey season.
Longer Barrel: My duty shotgun has an 18.5-inch barrel. While that makes it great for maneuvering around inside a building, it doesn’t do much for longer range accuracy and keeping the shot load tight. Most fowl hunting shotguns have barrels 24-inch or longer with many of them in the 28-inch area.Chambering: Every duty shotgun I know of is chambered for 12g and many of them are still limited to a 2.75” shell length. Shotguns for fowl can be chambered for 12g, 20g and even some in 16g (I imagine there are some in .410 as well for younger shooters) and the chamber length can be 2.75-inch or 3-inch with the bulk of them seeming to be 3-inch. Longer shell means more shot; more shot means denser pattern; denser pattern means greater chance of hitting what you’re shooting at.
Capacity: Most states have a capacity limit on hunting shotguns restricting it to 3 rounds, or 4 if you also count the one in the chamber. My duty shotgun holds 8 rounds in the magazine tube.
Finish: While custom finishes are becoming more prevalent on long guns in law enforcement, you’ll not typically see RealTree, Mossy Oak or other such finishes on duty shotguns. They are, however, VERY common on hunting shotguns.
Most of you should be familiar with the manufacturers of some popular turkey shotguns. Mossberg makes the excellent 940 Turkey Pro, which is an optic-ready semi-auto. Winchester markets the SXP NWTF Turkey Hunter which is also optic ready (drilled and tapped anyway) but is a pump system vs. semi-auto. Browning makes the Cynergy Ultimate Turkey shotgun with some picatinny rail on top of the receiver (easy mount your optic) in an over-under configuration. TWO shots, folks. How confident are you in your ability to hit what you’re aiming at? Especially as it’s “on the fly”? (Quite literally).
These are just a few of the top options available for you this spring turkey season. If you’re a hunter in the market for a new shotgun, check them out!