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Let's Talk Turkey Shot n Chokes

Big MakBig Mak Posts: 4,381 Captain
edited April 16 in General Hunting #1
So, there's no doubt that the new heavier than lead shot, like TSS and Hevimetal, are absolutely devastating to a turkeys head, but so is a load of number 3 steel at a close enough range. 

I've noticed a increase in popularity using a 410 shotgun lately with tss 9 shot. My 11 year old took his first two birds this season with 20 gauge tss 9. They patterned well with a production Carlson's choke to about 30yd. We didn't pattern any farther because I didn't want him making longer shots than that. On the other hand, I have shot a few turkeys to 50 yards with 3.5 inch number 3s (one 50 yd sprinter was even head shot with steel 3s after I dropped his brother at 30 yds with the same load) through my go-to factory mod rem choke, with my 870. 

I'm not intimately familiar with it, but I'm convinced the heavy shot and TSS loads are exponentially better suited for turkey hunting than the alternatives. My questions though, for the real pros around here, are: What TSS loads (or alternative) are you using? 9s? 7/9 blends? 8/10 blends? Are you getting and holes anywhere in your pattern trying to cram all that shot down your barrels? Is there a choke that's "too tight" for TSS causing blown patterns or too much tightness under 20yds? I guess in short, what's your go-to turkey load and choke combo? (BTW, I get the "gotta pattern what's best for your gun" but I'm curious to see what youse guys' thinking is concerning turkey loads and chokes?) My 870 with mod choke throws just about anything I feed it, where I need it out to about 50 yd, but I'm hearing guys are getting ridiculous results from these TSS 9s in certain choke combos, thus the surge in the 410 usage.

I'm really not the scientific sort. I generally just pick up a gun and go kill animals with it.

Educate me.
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Replies

  • ANUMBER1ANUMBER1 Posts: 12,304 AG
    Can't help, usually shoot a single shot 12 with full choke, I use winchester longbeard 3", #6, longest shot has 37 long strides (I'm 6'2")
    This year I am shooting a 16 with modified choke and # 6 , 2 3/4".
    I have some hevi Bismuth for the 16 in #4 for ducks, may try it out just for grins.
    I am glad to only be a bird hunter with bird dogs...being a shooter or dog handler or whatever other niche exists to separate appears to generate far too much about which to worry.
  • awayaway Posts: 460 Deckhand
    Mossberg 835
    Primos jellyhead .690
    Winchester long beard 3" #6s

    Wore my shoulder out many years ago overanalyzing chokes and loads. Settled on the combo that I thought gave me best patterns out to 40 yards.

    Haven't missed any birds that weren't user error. 
  • 4WARD4WARD Cross Creek,FLPosts: 2,501 Captain
    Interested to hear also Mak.
    Another longbeard here 3" 6's .665 indian creek. Have not found anything better.
    Certainly admit we have not patterned TSS.
    $5 a round was probably a bargain at this point
    "I hate graveyards and old pawn shops
    For they always bring me tears
    I can't forgive the way they rob me
    Of my childhood souvenirs"... John Prine
  • bswivbswiv Posts: 8,116 Admiral
    Let's go way back......WAY BACK.......my grandfather, who came from Sicily.....told us of how they would decide how much power and shot to use in a shotgun by firing at a wall and then inspecting both the pattern on the wall and the amount of distortion of the shot on the ground at the wall.

    If it was very flat.....use less powder......if the pattern was scattered.....use less powder.......but if the pellets were all in good shape and the pattern was tight.....more powder.

    He'd of been amazed at the new stuff. The idea of killing a bird as big as a turkey at 40 yards or more, except with large shot ( #4 Buck or bigger ) would have seemed a stroke of luck to him.

    I would add.......something about ding it close makes the whole experience better. 


  • Big MakBig Mak Posts: 4,381 Captain
    Agree closer is better all around. Also used Long beard 6s the  past few seasons. I'm looking fwd to using TSS next year or a out of state hunt later this season. Patterning that stuff is for the wealthy though.
  • swampdogswampdog Central FloridaPosts: 2,738 Captain
    My go to is a Remington 870 12 with 3” Remington Nitro #6s. I use the Xtra Full Remington Turkey that came with it. The thing does really well with very little flopping. Furthest bird was 45 yds. I shot a couple of birds with Heavy Shot 3” 6s, and it also worked great. I’m kind of simple, but have shot a lot of stuff with shotguns. If I don’t kill critters dead when I hit it, I want to know why and will use a pattern target. Before these fancy targets, I made my own. I’ve also used cut palmetto fronds to see the pattern. If I do my part, the gun will do it’s job. I have some TSS 9s in twenty ga., but without patterning it, I’m not using it. 
  • bowhunter4lifebowhunter4life Posts: 1,784 Captain
    I also started turkey hunting with an 870 with a modified factory choke using long beard 6’s. Pattern was a little to open for my liking. I then started using my sbe2 with a Indian creek choke (660 I believe) using heavy shot magnum blend, and it threw a nice pattern out to 40 yards. When I got my younger nephews hunting we started with a 20 ga mossberg youth model using magnum blend light recoil loads. It had an aftermarket choke ( can’t remember the restriction) , but it worked out well. After handling that gun and reading how much different loads and chokes had improved for turkey hunting I decided to get a franchi 20 ga. If you walk a lot turkey hunting you will appreciate the light weight of  the smaller bore guns..I put a trulock 575 choke in it  using #7 tss and really liked it. Should have got the affinity 2 in hindsight because it’s drilled for a sight. Will be getting it done this year because the eyes ain’t what they use to be... When Stevens came out with their 410 turkey gun I decided to give it a try after watching videos and hearing good reviews on it. They made that gun to shoot their federal tss #9 load , as they are one in the same company. It’s a 40 yard gun in my opinion using their factory choke, and I really like it..I put a truglo gobble stopper red dot on it, which helped the kids a lot..... At the end of the day I believe it’s the shooters choice as to what kind of pattern they want. I like a tight choke in close , and don’t want my pattern much larger than a volleyball at 40 yards. Rather have a clean miss than wounding one.... There’s good information on GON website about this topic, also many videos on YouTube that will help you make a decision on what to try out...I’m no expert ,so take my words for WTW. Here’s a picture of my 410 Stevens at 25 yards....- Good luck with your decision!
  • Yoder409Yoder409 Posts: 29 Deckhand
    All in how you hunt........how into completely maximizing your gun/shell/choke combo............how much you'd rather call them close or how far you wanna snipe one.

    I've tested about every gun/choke/shell combo there is...........until TSS.  I have dedicated turkey guns in 10, 12, 20 gauge and .410 bore.  Outside the .410 bore, #6 lead is 110% sufficient to kill any turkey with any of the other bores, given a good choke and shots 40 yards and in.  Only the patterning board will confirm, though.
     The .410 really only begins to be a viable 40 yard gun with TSS #9's.  

    My rig for the last 4-5 years now is a NEF Pardner 20 gauge single tricked out by Mr. William at SumToy Customs.  Firing 3" old skool Federal Heavy 7's   A Burris Speed Dot 135 sight on top.  Lightweight, simple, effective.
  • hunterjwhunterjw Posts: 458 Deckhand
    I shoot Remington nitros 4s or 5s.  Never really shoot past 40 so never been too big of a deal.

    My son (5) shot his first turkey recently with my old single shot .410 that I killed my first when I was 6.  The tss 9s patterned great. I couldn’t believe it when he shot the gobbler at 20 yards he folded.  Really impressed with the ammo but that stuff isn’t cheap!
    "He who hoots with the owls at night will not soar with the eagles at dawn"

  • JohnnyBanditJohnnyBandit Posts: 9,114 Admiral
    I never really thought about it.

    First few turkeys I killed were with a single shot 20 gauge my granddaddy gave me. And used whatever shells he handed me.

    Next few I shot with a single shot 12 gauge my Dad gave me. With whatever shells he got me.

    Then I got a Browning BPS for Christmas my senior year in high school. All the rest have been with that shotgun. Full choke. Mostly because we always used full choke. 

    When I decided to start hunting again. The browning is the gun I chose to use..... 1) because I have always liked it. I had the stock cut down shortly after I got it. So it fits me..... Been using it so long it just feels natural. 2) That gun has always been "lucky".... a week after the Christmas I got it.... New years morning..... we were running dogs...I was 17 and we had snuck a bottle of cheap blended scotch out of camp. I was SICK and hungover... The adults knew what we had done... they would not let us sleep in. They made us eat eggs and grits and black coffee... We were running dogs.... The dogs jumped.... I was praying they ran the deer another direction.... But they were coming out to my right.... I was on the corner and SHOULD have run down some... I didn't.... A spike buck and a doe came out and had to slow down as they came up on the grade out of the swamp. I let loose on the spike. Dropped him. Doe spun around before I could get on her.... I get down there.... The doe was down at the edge of the grade in water. Dead.  00 Buck 3" My Dad's handloads and he liked to load them HOT... 
    I have also shot two hogs twice with that gun....

    I got some Kent 3" TSS #7 shot.... My turkey ammo is old. And I wanted some fresh ammo.... That is the ONLY thing I could find.... I bought 3 5 packs. Stuff is pricey...... I ate a box. Not so much sighting in as playing with it.

    I figure if I do my job... the gun will do its job....

  • joekat46joekat46 North PortPosts: 2,653 Captain
    Always nice to see Patterning topics on this forum.  With the price and inaccessibility of ammo patterning is becoming a lost art.  What I've found over the years is that some guns and loads are not compatible and you won't know it unless you try it.  Some aftermarket chokes have wad catchers some don't - can make a big difference.  Because of this  some work great with older Federal shells some don't.  TSS is not a cure all that doesn't need patterning.  Right now I'm sold on my Savage 301 - .410 using APEX Ninja 9 1/2 through an aftermarket Jeb's Headhunter choke.  I got it before last season and it has taken 4 birds to date.  It's light with almost no recoil.  I've mostly hunted with a 12 Ga 870 now using an Indian Creek .650 and either Hevi #7s or Browning TSS 7/9.  Both pattern well.  When I want to have the s*** kicked out of me I'll use a Knight TK2000 muzzleloader (pictured in my avatar).  It has a tight "jug" choke, throws 2 1/2 oz of either lead #5 or #6, and can be loaded with up to 120 grains of black powder (try finding black powder now).  All the guns have been well patterned.  The big birds deserve it. I would no more think of shooting at a turkey with an unpatterned gun than a deer with an unsighted rifle. I can still remember when the turkey specialty ammo craze hit back in the 1990s and I tried a new duplex  4/6 load in my 870.  First shot had zero pellets in the kill zone, second shot maybe one.  Some loved this load.  It was well publicized.  My 870 thought it sucked.  Glad I tried it first. As has been mention forums such as Old Gobbler and Gobbler Nation have whole sections on nothing but patterning, loads, chokes etc.  Well worth the time.  Seeing on northern forums where guys are borrowing or trading various shells since they can't find turkey ammo.  Too bad since the chances it will be patterned before shooting at a bird is almost zero. 

  • drgibbydrgibby Posts: 1,726 Captain
    I have had no reason to experiment with loads since I started using Hevi Shot 5,6,7 in 3 inch 12 gauge 6 or 7 years ago. My 30 year old  Benelli M- 90 Field with the factory full choke loves this load. In fact inside 30 yards there is seldom a pellet in the breast. This has also proved lethal to coyotes out to 45+ yards having enough energy to punch through the skull bone. Prior to the Hevi shot, I had issues with consistent patterns using various lead loads. They were all pretty good inside 25 yards, but after that all bets were off.
    I will be getting a .410 this summer and will be trying the new TSS loads.  I like the idea of carrying a gun that weighs less than 5 pounds. Plus my grandson will be old enough to go in a couple of years, 1 1/2 now, and it will be a perfect first turkey gun for him. 
  • swampdogswampdog Central FloridaPosts: 2,738 Captain
    I agree that patterning a Turkey shotgun is as important as sighting in a deer rifle. It’s also part of the preparation. As mentioned, I have some TSS in 20 that won’t get fired at a Turkey till I pattern the load. The 20 is so I will have a lighter shotgun for the long walks. 
  • bowhunter4lifebowhunter4life Posts: 1,784 Captain
    swampdog said:
    I agree that patterning a Turkey shotgun is as important as sighting in a deer rifle. It’s also part of the preparation. As mentioned, I have some TSS in 20 that won’t get fired at a Turkey till I pattern the load. The 20 is so I will have a lighter shotgun for the long walks. 
    Agree!... Once I realized that I can do everything I want to do with the 20 and now the 410, I don’t see a reason to carry the 12.... I never shoot over 40 yards.
  • zimmy4209zimmy4209 Ocala FloridaPosts: 1,338 Officer
    I've used a single shot 20 gauge turkey hunting since 2011. Bought a 12 gauge this year and after today its going back in the closet forever. Way too heavy for my liking. Killef that bird last year with the 3rd degree she'll that federal(j believe) makes and after pacing it off was definitley farther than I had guessed. 
    These newer turkey chokes now anyways are just about like sighting in a deer rifle. Inside of 20 yards its alot easier to miss a bird if you dont know your gun. 
    This pic was first 2 times i shot my 12 gauge when I got this new choke at 15 yards and you get the idea. Thinking back at all the times in my life turkey hunting I can't say that I ever wished I had that extra few yards for distance with xx full choke. 
  • Big MakBig Mak Posts: 4,381 Captain
    edited April 18 #17
    ^^^ That's kinda where my thinking was aligning. I don't want a golf ball sized pattern at 20 yds and I don't want a hole in my pattern somewhere at 40. I like good coverage for hunting and I'll probably just stick with my mod choke since it seems to do the job effortlessly on anything from 5 to 50. I don't see any reason to tighten it up since I shoot most of my birds around 20-30.

    I am anxious to see how the factory mod choke throws TSS number 9s though. Looking forward to testing this summer unless I get a chance sooner.
  • swampdogswampdog Central FloridaPosts: 2,738 Captain
    I agree Mak. That’s another reason I don’t get too spun up about loads. From all the bird shooting and Turkey shooting I’ve done, I have an 1100, and an 870 with a lot of shot loads that work. Because those guns are effective, I only buy what works and is on sale. The light weight 20 ga. will be for long walks, once I figure it out. The two 16s might get a little work, will play with them this summer. 
  • PinmanPinman Posts: 3,044 Captain
    Big Mak said:
    ^^^ That's kinda where my thinking was aligning. I don't want a golf ball sized pattern at 20 yds and I don't want a hole in my pattern somewhere at 40. I like good coverage for hunting and I'll probably just stick with my mod choke since it seems to do the job effortlessly on anything from 5 to 50. I don't see any reason to tighten it up since I shoot most of my birds around 20-30.

    I am anxious to see how the factory mod choke throws TSS number 9s though. Looking forward to testing this summer unless I get a chance sooner.
    MODIFIED!?!?! See the source image
  • Big MakBig Mak Posts: 4,381 Captain
    edited April 19 #20
    Yep. Never used a full choke in any shotgun in my life. That's why I was asking. Thought I might have been doing something wrong, but now I'm thinking the only thing wrong was thinking I was doing something wrong. ;)
  • PinmanPinman Posts: 3,044 Captain
    edited April 18 #21
    Well if it aint broke....

    I shot my first bird ever (fall-season-didnt-know-what-the-heck-I-was-doing) with a Mod fixed in the Ithaca 37 I talked about.  Every other bird after that was with my SBE duck gun and factory full tube and Winchester Longbeard 3.5" #5s, most 10 to 30.  Have only rolled 1 but he was out about 40.  The exception to the gun was my bird from last week when I took my daughters youth Mossberg Bantam with factory Full tube and TSS.  23 paces and stoned him.

    The pattern board is your friend. But not friendly to your wallet, especially these days. 

    Mine and my sons Benelli's like the Winchester Longbeards. My other sons Beretta throws blown patterns with them but likes the Remington Nitros. Research online like your doing will help narrow it down and save some pattern board $
  • swampdogswampdog Central FloridaPosts: 2,738 Captain
    A lot of birds died with modified and full chokes and birdshot out of 2&3/4 chambers along the years. It was all that was available. I wouldn’t hesitate to call one in to 30 to 35yds and shoot him with one of my shotguns and a modified barrel with a high brass load of six’s or nines. My brother and I took quite a number that way before we bought “turkey guns”.  
  • ANUMBER1ANUMBER1 Posts: 12,304 AG
    I'll continue to call them in close, if I want to shoot one at 50+ yards I'll just use a rifle.
    I am glad to only be a bird hunter with bird dogs...being a shooter or dog handler or whatever other niche exists to separate appears to generate far too much about which to worry.
  • awayaway Posts: 460 Deckhand
    No doubt every turkey hunter here plans to call them close. But as you probably know, if your max range is 30 or even 20 yards, there are always those times you pull the trigger and find out he was closer to 35. Hence knowing your pattern at your longest possible distance. 
  • Florida BullfrogFlorida Bullfrog Posts: 4,320 Captain
    edited April 19 #25
    Some of you know I did most of my turkey hunting with a rifle in my early years, a .22 mag for under 50 yards and a .204 Ruger when I absolutely want to reach out and touch one. One of my best hunting memories is my brother and I glassing turkeys at 300 yards and browsing gobblers like an old woman squeezing tomatoes at the grocery store, then picking out the long beard we wanted and sniping him like a peasant. I used to peeve off the shotgun fanboys with videos of turkey sniping. Good times. 

    Yeah, the .204 is extreme. But as it relates to rimfires, I never understood until this thread why people got all high and mighty about shotguns over rimfires. I had no idea it was normal for people to hunt with shotguns that only pattern to 20-30 yards. My turkey shotgun with 3” Federal #6 will hold a pie shaped pattern to 50 yards and is still effective to 65 yards. I thought that normal for a good shotgun. 

    When I’m not using an airgun these days, I grab the shotgun because its EASIER than a rimfire or airgun to quickly sweep over and kill a turkey with the shotgun than a rifle if the shot is under 50 yards. But that is presuming the shotgun has the same effective range as the rifles. 

    I’m not judging someone if they want to limit themselves to 20 yards, no more than I’m subject to being judged by enjoying sniping turkeys at whatever range I choose. I think though for me if I’m going to use a shotgun, I’d want to be able to be able to take one out to 50 yards lest I misjudge the distance of the little red head staring at me through the thick. Otherwise I’d rather just use a bow if a challenge was what I wanted. But to each their own. 

  • Florida BullfrogFlorida Bullfrog Posts: 4,320 Captain
    Besides, if you want to limit your shots to 20, you still can with a shotgun that will pattern to 50. The tight patterning just gives you a cleaner kill if you misjudge the distance. 
  • Big MakBig Mak Posts: 4,381 Captain
    edited April 19 #27
    Are Mr 7 o'clock and Mr 12 o'clock close enough for you full chokers and long range snipers? ;)

    Enjoy.... Next year might be a good one for me if I can just keep 'em safe through one more weekend of public land googanism.
  • bowhunter4lifebowhunter4life Posts: 1,784 Captain
    Save yourself some money and use a slingshot on those!..😜
  • Big MakBig Mak Posts: 4,381 Captain
    edited April 19 #29
    So... Is there such a thing as too much choke for these TSS number 9s in a 12 gauge? I've read volumes on Old Gobbler and consensus is that .655 seems to be around the best constriction, give or take, for optimum performance. In the infinite wisdom of the FL Sportsmen gathered here, what say ye? Any first hand knowledge?
  • josh_scott84josh_scott84 Palm HarborPosts: 790 Officer
    I shoot a 660. I'm really happy with how it patterns out to 50 using Longbeard XRs in #4 or 5. Unfortunately I've yet to drop any birds with it. Not for a lack of trying though.  :/ 
  • bowhunter4lifebowhunter4life Posts: 1,784 Captain
    Big Mak said:
    So... Is there such a thing as too much choke for these TSS number 9s in a 12 gauge? I've read volumes on Old Gobbler and consensus is that .655 seems to be around the best constriction, give or take, for optimum performance. In the infinite wisdom of the FL Sportsmen gathered here, what say ye? Any first hand knowledge?
    I wouldn’t waste money on tss for a 12 gauge, especially if you are happy with your long beard shells. I think the tss really shines in the smaller gauge guns . My nephew uses the exact same gun/choke/ shell as you and likes it. Says it’s more forgiving with the open pattern, and he’s killed a decent amount of turkeys with it.. I did use heavy shot in my 12’s and preferred it over long beard. If you do try tss, I’d go bigger than #9 shot for sure......my 2 cents, and I’m no expert.
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