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OK, LET’S TALK ABOUT TURKEY HUNTIN’

I am going back on something I said I would not do. Not long ago I was tired of seeing posts on the Book of Faces and other founts of knowledge in the social media and internet labyrinth. Overanxious turkey hunters, as early as January were going on about how they were ready for the spring turkey season and how they “just couldn’t wait” for the season to start. In truth I will confess that I don’t like the “I just can’t wait” phrase. It may seem trivial but the fact is you will wait if something has a date on it and don’t try to make things happen so quickly, time goes by too fast as it is. So again, some weeks ago I was chastising those that wanted to talk about spring turkey hunting too soon, it is still winter after all, and here I am doing what I said I wouldn’t do. Well, we are here now so may as well dive into it, a little sermon to get you going on spring gobbler season.

Spring gobbler hunting is just that, it happens in the springtime. Spring is when male turkeys strut their stuff for the girls and make all that racket that we turkey hunters claim to love so much (gobbling). During this time we hunters sally forth and use all of our innate skill and turkey calling powers to lure the gobblers into range. Most of us don’t like to admit that often the turkey that gets called into range is just ready to be called in that day. We like to think we are channeling Ben Rodgers Lee (a late, great turkey hunter) or maybe Ray Eye (a great turkey hunter that is still with us) and it is our incredible skill on a turkey call that gets that wise ol’ gobbler into range. (Not the fact that it is the height of the turkeys breeding season and this is the day this turkey is going to come under the gun)

Turkey hunters are great on planning and preparation, most of us love the part about getting ready and we may even like this more than the hunt itself. So herewith are some topics to get you started on the path to this springs annual bout with insanity known as turkey season.

Get lots of new turkey calls. I am at the head of the line on this one. Every year I usually start thinking about being better prepared in the calling department and figure just what I need is a bunch of new calls to make up for my inadequacies in calling. In my defense I don’t have much trouble calling turkeys (especially that one who wanted to be called in) but I just figure that I could be better and you can always make up for a lack of skill with more stuff, that is gear of any kind. I always make a preseason call to Jim Clay (another renowned turkey hunter) for some of his Perfection Calls which he has been making since, I don’t know when, maybe the 1970’s? Master Clay is an icon in the turkey world and I figure just carrying some of his calls has got to be lucky.

This year I am going to try some new calls from local guys here in West Virginia. Mike Booth who has the “On the Limb” podcast and Nature’s Voice Game Calls has promised me some calls and I am looking forward to using them. Nathan Taylor is also a Mountain State call maker and I already have a couple his Higher Calling Custom Turkey Calls, but I may need to get a few more. Both of these guys can be found on Facebook.

Shotgun shells and the mystique of TSS. The turkey shotgun and shotshell world has changed vastly in the past several years. Once upon a time we used pretty much the same shotgun for about everything. Ducks, pheasants, rabbits, the odd deer now and then as well as turkeys all got shot with the same shotgun, often a Remington 870, an 1100, or maybe a Mossberg 500 pump gun. Now most of us would not think of turkey hunting without a shotgun specifically for that purpose. Sometimes it is a Benelli Super Back Eagle or a Mossberg 835 tricked out with optics looking like something that Buck Rogers (a 1930’s science fiction guy, and then a late 1970’s TV show) would be toting.

Shotgun shells, have if anything, changed even more. Like the pre turkey craze days, we used about whatever shells were found in our vest from our last hunting trip. Winchester Double X Magnums in number 4 or 6 shot, or Remington Nitro shells seemed to do just fine and we killed turkeys with no problem as long as we did not try to stretch the barrel, that is not shoot at turkeys that were too far away, like over 40 or so yards. Shotshell makers changed all this first with the advent of the Winchester Long Beard XR shotguns shells. In a stroke of genius Winchester engineers perfected a method of encasing shot pellets in a hard clear plastic material that shatters instantly upon ignition of the shell and encases the shot charge in this buffering as it starts down the barrel. The result was greatly increased possible ranges on turkeys. To the amazement of many, including the turkeys, 60 yards became the new 40 as far as killing turkeys.

This went on for a few years until word started to get out that some real turkey nuts were loading their own shot shells with a new type of pellet made from a metal known as wolfram, or tungsten. This metal in its purest form, for shot shells, made pellets that were almost twice as dense and hard as lead pellets and produced patterns and terminal ballistics (the pellets effectiveness in killing game birds) that were once thought of as impossible. Federal ammunition produced the first commercial shotshells for TSS (Tungsten Super Shot) and the world has never been the same.

Tales of turkeys being knocked over at incredible ranges soon became old hat. The use of TSS brought up another phenomenon in the turkey shotgun world in that it allows the hunter to use subgauges like the 28 gauge and even the .410 bore to effectively hunt turkeys. The density of the TSS shot allows it to be loaded in fine shot, like number 9’s and with the small shot the shell can be loaded with sometimes twice the number of shot allowing for incredible numbers of hits in a pattern. Let’s just say these are not your Grandad’s shotgun shells.

Now, aren’t you glad I brought all this up so early?

Larry Case                               www.gunsandcornbread.com

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