Turkey Hunting Practice To Stay on Target This Spring
Turkey hunting season is finally here in a few states, and you’re starting to see gobbler pictures popping up in your social news feeds. If the conditions are right and you’ve got a turkey tag burning a hole in your pocket, we bet you’ll be heading to the woods real soon. But one thing’s for sure, whether you choose to use a shotgun or bow this spring, turkey hunting practice is critical to make sure you can take a lethal shot at a big old tom. Along with preseason calling practice and gear preparation, you really need to make sure you can shoot accurately too. We hope you’ve practiced up to this point and feel confident in your shooting capabilities, but it’s time now for some last-minute fine-tuning.
Oftentimes with turkey hunts, ignoring the details can bite you in the end. Think you’ve practiced your turkey calling and archery or shotgun shooting to the point of being a master? Think you no longer need to practice those hunting skills before opening day? Do you really think there’s nothing else you can learn about turkey hunting at this point? Well, that’s exactly the moment you botch a shot or fail to bring a gobbler into shooting range. You need to constantly work on improving yourself and your hunting skills if you’re going to be consistently successful. But if you’re a glutton for punishment and self-loathing, keep on going with the old approach. See how it works out.
Turkey Hunting Practice With a Compound Bow
There’s no better way to fine-tune your archery shooting abilities than shooting 3D targets. There’s just something about shooting at a 3D replica of your intended game animal that gives you an incredible advantage over shooting at the same old shooting bag bullseye – it’s mostly a mental game. You can see exactly how shot angles change your aiming point and mentally prepare better for the different conditions you’ll face in the turkey woods.
First, get yourself some Morrell® turkey targets and set them up in the backyard or at the local shooting range. The back to back turkey combo target is a great, economical option because it features a turkey target on one side, a deer’s vital section on the back, and bullseye options on the sides, making it useful for hunts throughout the year. You can use field points or your G5® broadheads because it is made from a self-healing foam material. That honestly makes it one of the best 3D archery targets you’ll find. Set this turkey target up at your average shot distance at first and start practicing your archery shots with your reliable Hoyt® bow. As you continue to get tight groups in the center of the turkey’s body, move the target a little further back until your form falls apart. Now you know your absolute maximum ethical shooting distance for the real deal. With some steady turkey target practice before opening day, you’ll be amazed at how confident you feel when the time comes.
To help build that confidence, even more, it always helps to dress in your actual turkey hunting gear while you’re doing this so you recognize any sticking points or form issues. Since bow hunting turkeys can be tricky in the open, you’ll probably want to use a ground blind. And if you will ultimately hunt in one, you should also shoot from it during your practice sessions for the same reason as the hunting gear.
Turkey Hunting Practice With a Shotgun
If you prefer to use a shotgun for turkey hunting, on the other hand, the best way to fine tune your shooting is by patterning your shotgun for turkeys with various turkey loads. That should always go along with your preseason to-do list, but you should especially do it if you’re using a brand new or new-to-you shotgun. The easiest way to pattern a shotgun for turkey hunting is by shooting at turkey paper targets. You can buy the paper silhouette targets that really show the pellet entry when they have been shot or you can simply draw a life-size turkey outline on a piece of cardboard – it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that the turkey load you choose is deadly at various distances and can place a dense pattern in the kill zone (primarily the head and neck for shotguns)? Hornady® Heavy Magnum® turkey loads come in #4, #5, or #6 nickel plated lead shot, and the unique Versatite™ wad ensures a very uniform and tight pattern without having to rely on full or turkey chokes as much. These shells are also available in 12 or 20 gauge, depending on what shotgun you want to use.
To pattern, your shotgun for turkey, just place the paper target downrange (starting at about 20 to 30 yards) and get in your hunting gear, just like for the archery discussion above. If you can practice in all your equipment and from the ground, just like a real turkey hunt, you’ll be much more likely to shoot as close to field accuracy as possible. For added realism, place your turkey decoys along with the 3D turkey targets, so you can practice your shot placement and get the feel for the best decoy placement without destroying them by pumping them full of lead. After each shot, examine the target to see how the load patterned. If you like what you see, try putting up a new target and moving back further until you find your maximum effective distance (whenever the pattern gets too weak to be lethal on a turkey). Using these turkey target practice tips, you should be able to pattern your shotgun in no time.
Turkey Target Practice Starts NOW
As we mentioned, the time for turkey season is already here in some states. That means you don’t have much time left to fine-tune your shooting form to be deadly accurate and consistent this spring. Take the tips above seriously and plan on making time this week to get out to the backyard or shooting range for some much-needed practice. You might find that you’re not as good as you thought you were!
Turkey hunting practice does not have to be confined to shooting your bow or shotgun. It could mean brushing up on your turkey calls and turkey calling skills for the upcoming season. Check out the blog below to touch up your skills!