Shot Placement for Turkey Hunting

By author of Turkey Blog with Steve Hickoff

Pattern Your Shotgun to Kill Gobblers

This revised post is based on "Guns, Loads & Sights," written by Aaron Pass, and originally published in the Team Realtree Turkey Hunting Fieldbook (2001).

Our post has two intentions: how-to instruction for where to aim your shotgun at a turkey, and to advise patterning your firearm and load for the best results.

(Illustrations by Ryan Orndorff.)


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1 | Pattern Your Turkey Gun

An armor-plated gobbler has weak spots — namely the head and neck. Several pellets in these vital areas mean a sure kill. Remember, your target is the size of a tennis ball stuck on an 1/8-inch length of 1-inch dowel. It’s why you need a true-shooting gun that throws a dense pattern.

Patterning your turkey gun verifies your point of aim and impact hit the same place.

It also tells you how your pattern will cover the vulnerable area of a gobbler; again, his head and neck.

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2 | Best Point of Aim

If your gun shoots true, you should aim at point A, at the bottom of the turkey wattles, the thick, fleshy part of the neck (a.k.a. caruncles). A portion of your shot pattern should go into both the head and neck.

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3 | Second Best Point of Aim

If you just aim at the head (point B), you still might drop a turkey, but much of the shot pattern will go above the vital areas.

By trying different shotgun loads, and setting up targets at different distances – 20, 30 and 40 yards, for instance – you can learn what shotshell suits your gun best and the maximum effective range for a quick, clean kill.

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