I was at the range the other day and overheard an interesting conversation about whether or not you needed to purchase a special choke for turkey hunting. It piqued my interest, so I edged a little closer. The first guy was looking for a recommendation on a turkey choke he could give his son to go with the new shotgun that would be under the tree—my kind of dad. However, the second fellow did not seem to feel a choke was necessary.
“I see turkey chokes, or all special chokes for that matter, as a manufacturer’s dream come true. It is just another way to get into our pockets. Your gun will kill turkeys just as well as any gun on the market.” There was truth to his statement. The gun will still do its job, however the choke does not dictate how the gun shoots; it merely affects the pattern of the shot. And when you are talking about turkey hunting—or any bird hunting really—it is all about the pattern. At times, for example, you may want to open a pattern wider for skeet. Other times you may want a tighter pattern for longer range applications such as goose hunting.
However, I have never shot a goose on the skeet range nor am I prone to pass shooting at turkeys as they fly by, which is why hunters often have a problem arriving at a solution to this little dilemma.
The Gobbler Stopper
I’ve heard a good caller can bring a turkey close enough to kiss the end of your barrel—if you are one of those callers, the choke will not matter. However, I am not a good turkey caller. In the past, I have seen turkeys rolled a little further than the hunter had any business shooting, but generally out to about 35 or 40 yards is considered acceptable. That’s assuming you have the skill, optics and a gun that has been patterned to confirm it will produce acceptable groups at that distance.
Shot size and state regulations vary so I will steer clear of that discussion here, but generally speaking, you need to have 8 to 10 pellets in the head and neck area with larger shot (small number) and probably about the same number in the vitals. If however, you drop to a small shot size, you’d better be able to pepper your target with more hits than you can count.
Accomplishing either of these goals at you maximum range will either only be possible, or more likely be possible with a choke designed for the purpose. On average a gun will perform better with a specialty choke.
Last year, I tested several chokes for an upcoming turkey hunt. Most patterned in similar fashion and only one was forces to meet Mr. Trash Can. One of the best chokes for the money to come out of the test was the TRUGLO Gobbler Stopper.
The National Wild Turkey Federation endorses the Gobbler Stopper, which gives it a level of credibility right from the beginning. The precision-machined and ported choke provides accuracy and reduces recoil. It readily accepts all standard turkey loads (including Hevi Shot), but does not take well to steel shot—I would not recommend steel for turkeys anyway. Best of all, TRUGLO’s Gobbler Stopper will turn almost any shotgun into a turkey gun.