The clock is ticking and most of us still have a few months before we can chase those lovesick longbeards of spring. If you are like me you are staring out the window and still looking at that dreaded white stuff covering the ground...yes SNOW!
As we get closer to the opener of spring turkey season there are a few basic things I always do in preparation. Even being a seasoned turkey hunter, I always pattern my shotgun before turkey season. I know that my UnderTaker choke tube is going to be deadly, but there are always new turkey loads hitting the market. I like to try out some of the new loads in the various shot sizes so I can try to improve that pattern in my favorite turkey gun.
On that note, I want to talk about something I have seen several times with kids on their first turkey hunt. First of all, I don’t care who you are, turkey loads can pack a punch! I have taken several youth hunters out who have had a longbeard dead to rights and were scared to death to pull the trigger for fear of the recoil of the gun. Usually after the fact you talk to the mentor and they thought they were doing their due diligence by taking the youth out to shoot the gun prior. This is a good practice but here is something I like to do.
When I take a youth hunter to the range to shoot their turkey gun I have already done my homework and know what brand of shell and shot size shoots the best through that particular gun. The main exercise that you are trying to accomplish is getting the hunter comfortable with the gun and I like to have them shoot the gun in a hunting situation. This means shooting from a sitting position with their back against something to simulate being in the woods with your back against a tree for safety. If a tree isn’t available you may have to compromise with the tire of a vehicle.
Another great item you might want to look into is the V-Pod by Hunters Specialties; this is a great item for beginners and veteran turkey hunters. This product attaches to the barrel of your shotgun and gives you stability without having to hold the weight of your gun for long periods of time while you are waiting that gobbler out. All we are trying to accomplish is getting them comfortable with the gun in a hunting situation.
One thing I recommend is to have the youth shoot a very light load. Trap loads work great for this--low brass, maybe a 7 ½ or 8 shot. This takes the recoil issue out of the equation and now it becomes comfortable and fun. Because you have already shot the gun and know the optimal turkey load, when the moment of truth comes, focusing on that turkey's head will be what they are thinking about, not "dang, this gun is going to kick like a mule!" Try these tips the next time you run to the range to pattern your turkey gun.