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Video: Spring Gobbler Hunting with a Pellet Gun - A Clean Hit or a Clean Miss

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March 05, 2012
Video: Spring Gobbler Hunting with a Pellet Gun - A Clean Hit or a Clean Miss - 17

Chances are you can’t legally carry a pellet gun for wild turkeys where you live -- unless you hunt California.

Let’s back up a bit. A few spring seasons ago I flew 4,000 plus round-trip miles to hunt California gobblers -- an upland bird considered by the state to be a “small game” species. As you would before making such a trip, I studied up on regulations and found this legal law book option:

“Air rifles powered by compressed air or gas and used with any caliber of pellet, except that wild turkey may only be taken with a pellet that is at least 0.177 caliber.”

My first thought? That’s a stunt -- an unwise Left Coast error in thinking; an unwarranted regulation in a state known more for anti-hunting viewpoints than a turkey hunting tradition. Sure, I’ve killed squirrels with a pellet gun. And yes, it did the job.

Wild turkeys though? C’mon man. I even brought it up in California turkey camp as our proven 12-gauge shotguns filled tags on sharp-spurred Rio Grande longbeards. Nobody used an air gun in camp. Maybe nobody does in the land of Hollywood tabloid scandals and celebrity debauchery?

But this self-proclaimed “psycho turkey hunter” and California spring gobbler gunner proves that I’m wrong. His video of not one, but two Golden State gobblers taken with a Remington Nitro Piston SS .22 caliber pellet gun shows you can make clean kills.

Is this a lucky shooting stunt or the real deal? What do you Strut Zoners think?

Comments (17)

Top Rated
All Comments
from Steve Hickoff wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Great ranges of comments here, guys. Thanks for the input.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from 4everAutumn wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

I worked at a park where someone released 21 African geese. No problems for many years, but then they got big, old and very aggressive. They would mob kids and leave them bloody and bruised. They had to be dispatched, but after we netted the first two, the others would not let us get close. I shot the rest of them with my Crossman 2100 .177 pellet rifle. Most were beyond 30 yards and all dropped dead when shot in the head. These birds were close to 25 pounds and had very thick skulls.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from JM wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Also, just to make my stance clear: I agree with legalizing pellet guns for turkey hunting in CA, I just feel that the .177 was a but small. Then again I haven't seen the modern air rifles you have described in action.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from JM wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

No offence was ever taken, I actually agree with what you had to say; I just wanted to put in the opposing side of the argument. I feel you shouldn't take a stance on a topic without fully understanding both sides of an argument.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntfishtrap wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

@JM First off, I did not wish to offend anyone, and everyone's entitled to their opinion.
In regards to your statement that at 50 yards (and even a lot closer than that, to be honest) a gobbler could move his head enough to cause the pellet to miss - you are certainly correct, he could. But what would happen if he did? you would miss - no harm done to the bird.
The way I look at it, there is very little difference between tying to head/neck shoot turkeys with a bow, and this. With both you are almost assured of either a clean kill or a clean miss, with both you probably get only one shot, both are very quiet and unobtrusive,and both are considerably more challenging than hunting with a shotgun. Yet there are many people who don't have a problem with the bowhunting but are against airgun hunting, why?
Also, to address your point about not everyone having "the best" airguns, you are right as well, but many of the models I have described are still quite a bit cheaper than most shotguns turkey hunters carry (though maybe not you).

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from charlie elk wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Open minds are good.
Once you get past air gun man's psycho attitude and music, he appears to be a good turkey hunter.
According to my research of CA air rifle regulations. They came about because discharge ordinances in many CA communities make it hard to control animal populations. Some concerned hunters pushed through air gun exemptions. In some areas air guns and box traps are the only legal hunting methods.
later,
charlie

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Michael Edwards wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

I have long been a believe that in the off big game seasons the 22 cal pellet gun keeps me in shape sighting wise for the real season. I am not suprised to here turkey hunting with a pellet gun is legal in some areas.
Good luck to all you turkey pellet gun users.
Mike

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from cjohnsrud wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

I would definitely keep an open mind. I would like to think my skills were good enough to bring a turkey into 10 yards and kill it ethically with an air rifle. Sadly though, I think I will stick with my 12 gauge and make sure I get the job done.

Side note: I have heard that in Florida, residents are using air rifles to try to control the Iguana population.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from pineywoods wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

The way CharlieElk and Bob Hansen view the pellet gun scenario makes me want to change my point of view, especially in regards to the surburbs. I guess pellet guns are a far cry from what I used to know. I'll keep and open mind.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from charlie elk wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

How can anyone not be impressed with this fellow's skill?
He gets the birds in 10 yards or less & patiently waits for a still broadside head before shooting. Clearly he is a skilled marksman in order to hit those birds center head.
There are getting to be more and more turkeys living in suburbia where hunting in the traditional manner might be intolerable. Air gun man is on to something here.
The gun is quiet the birds are anchored with no tracking required as is usual with bowhunting.
Old charlie is going have to check this out; he's California dreaming now.
later,
charlie

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bob Hansen wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Hi...

Pellet guns or air rifle ammo can exceed the velocity of a .22 caliber rifle bullet. You bet I would use one on turkeys wherever it was legal to do so.

There are even pellet guns that have a recoil pad on the stock, and have telescopic sights, and even suppressors (a "silencer"). Nice, lightweight, and relatively inexpensive to shoot.

And, they're rapidly gaining in popularity.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from pineywoods wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

My question is, why make killing one of our finest game birds a stunt? The gobbler deserves our respect enough to try and kill him cleanly and quickly. If you're using a .22 pellet, why not a .22 rimfire? The .22 rimfire is illegal in most places. If you're living or hunting where the turkeys are so plentiful that they're a pest, then I guess it'd be all right to try a pellet gun, but the birds I hunt are tough enough that I need all the advantage I can get.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from JM wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

@huntfishtrap,
I am not sure who you are directing that comment to, but to defend my case: At 50 yards a turkey can move it's head faster than any air pellet. Plus I am under the impression that not everyone has "the best" air rifles.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntfishtrap wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

I am going to assume you aren't very familiar with air rifles, as you would otherwise know that there are MANY models that would be powerful and accurate enough to cleanly kill a turkey out to 40-50 yards, or about the range of your average turkey load in a shotgun.
The best .177, .22, or .25 PCP (pre-charged pneumatic) guns can easily hold nickel-sized 5-shot groups at 50 yards, with more than enough enough power to penetrate a gobbler's head.
There are also spring-piston models that would be just as powerful, and only slightly less accurate - still good enough to hit the head of a stationary bird at easily 30+ yards.
The other posters are correct that the old "red ryder" style pump-up BB guns would not be an effective choice for something like this, but air-gun technology has come a looong way since then.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from JM wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Using a .177 for turkey is a joke. The average .177 caliber BB gun has little to no accuracy at over 15 yards, good luck hitting the brain with that.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bukkiah Golden wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

There are air rifles that are fully capable of taking down a buffalo. They are usually sub-sonic, with massive pellets 200+ grain.
I have heard of, though not seen, air shot guns as well.

This provision/reg/rule is probably in place because someone in the know was a aware that not all air rifles are bb/pellet guns. (though oddly those .50 + rounds are still called pellets).

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Levi Banks wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

I don't know how accurate these things are, I suppose good enough to kill a turkey at close range, but the bird has to be extremely still to take a shot. If it moves as you shoot you would most likely miss, which isn't all bad. It seems like there is still a decent chance for injuring a bird, couldn't you hit skin and not head or neck bone, thus not killing the bird? It seems like a 0.22 caliber pellet would be a pretty good injury, probably killing a bird, but not right away.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

from Bob Hansen wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Hi...

Pellet guns or air rifle ammo can exceed the velocity of a .22 caliber rifle bullet. You bet I would use one on turkeys wherever it was legal to do so.

There are even pellet guns that have a recoil pad on the stock, and have telescopic sights, and even suppressors (a "silencer"). Nice, lightweight, and relatively inexpensive to shoot.

And, they're rapidly gaining in popularity.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from charlie elk wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

How can anyone not be impressed with this fellow's skill?
He gets the birds in 10 yards or less & patiently waits for a still broadside head before shooting. Clearly he is a skilled marksman in order to hit those birds center head.
There are getting to be more and more turkeys living in suburbia where hunting in the traditional manner might be intolerable. Air gun man is on to something here.
The gun is quiet the birds are anchored with no tracking required as is usual with bowhunting.
Old charlie is going have to check this out; he's California dreaming now.
later,
charlie

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Levi Banks wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

I don't know how accurate these things are, I suppose good enough to kill a turkey at close range, but the bird has to be extremely still to take a shot. If it moves as you shoot you would most likely miss, which isn't all bad. It seems like there is still a decent chance for injuring a bird, couldn't you hit skin and not head or neck bone, thus not killing the bird? It seems like a 0.22 caliber pellet would be a pretty good injury, probably killing a bird, but not right away.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bukkiah Golden wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

There are air rifles that are fully capable of taking down a buffalo. They are usually sub-sonic, with massive pellets 200+ grain.
I have heard of, though not seen, air shot guns as well.

This provision/reg/rule is probably in place because someone in the know was a aware that not all air rifles are bb/pellet guns. (though oddly those .50 + rounds are still called pellets).

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntfishtrap wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

I am going to assume you aren't very familiar with air rifles, as you would otherwise know that there are MANY models that would be powerful and accurate enough to cleanly kill a turkey out to 40-50 yards, or about the range of your average turkey load in a shotgun.
The best .177, .22, or .25 PCP (pre-charged pneumatic) guns can easily hold nickel-sized 5-shot groups at 50 yards, with more than enough enough power to penetrate a gobbler's head.
There are also spring-piston models that would be just as powerful, and only slightly less accurate - still good enough to hit the head of a stationary bird at easily 30+ yards.
The other posters are correct that the old "red ryder" style pump-up BB guns would not be an effective choice for something like this, but air-gun technology has come a looong way since then.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from cjohnsrud wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

I would definitely keep an open mind. I would like to think my skills were good enough to bring a turkey into 10 yards and kill it ethically with an air rifle. Sadly though, I think I will stick with my 12 gauge and make sure I get the job done.

Side note: I have heard that in Florida, residents are using air rifles to try to control the Iguana population.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from charlie elk wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Open minds are good.
Once you get past air gun man's psycho attitude and music, he appears to be a good turkey hunter.
According to my research of CA air rifle regulations. They came about because discharge ordinances in many CA communities make it hard to control animal populations. Some concerned hunters pushed through air gun exemptions. In some areas air guns and box traps are the only legal hunting methods.
later,
charlie

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from JM wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

@huntfishtrap,
I am not sure who you are directing that comment to, but to defend my case: At 50 yards a turkey can move it's head faster than any air pellet. Plus I am under the impression that not everyone has "the best" air rifles.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from pineywoods wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

My question is, why make killing one of our finest game birds a stunt? The gobbler deserves our respect enough to try and kill him cleanly and quickly. If you're using a .22 pellet, why not a .22 rimfire? The .22 rimfire is illegal in most places. If you're living or hunting where the turkeys are so plentiful that they're a pest, then I guess it'd be all right to try a pellet gun, but the birds I hunt are tough enough that I need all the advantage I can get.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from pineywoods wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

The way CharlieElk and Bob Hansen view the pellet gun scenario makes me want to change my point of view, especially in regards to the surburbs. I guess pellet guns are a far cry from what I used to know. I'll keep and open mind.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Michael Edwards wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

I have long been a believe that in the off big game seasons the 22 cal pellet gun keeps me in shape sighting wise for the real season. I am not suprised to here turkey hunting with a pellet gun is legal in some areas.
Good luck to all you turkey pellet gun users.
Mike

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntfishtrap wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

@JM First off, I did not wish to offend anyone, and everyone's entitled to their opinion.
In regards to your statement that at 50 yards (and even a lot closer than that, to be honest) a gobbler could move his head enough to cause the pellet to miss - you are certainly correct, he could. But what would happen if he did? you would miss - no harm done to the bird.
The way I look at it, there is very little difference between tying to head/neck shoot turkeys with a bow, and this. With both you are almost assured of either a clean kill or a clean miss, with both you probably get only one shot, both are very quiet and unobtrusive,and both are considerably more challenging than hunting with a shotgun. Yet there are many people who don't have a problem with the bowhunting but are against airgun hunting, why?
Also, to address your point about not everyone having "the best" airguns, you are right as well, but many of the models I have described are still quite a bit cheaper than most shotguns turkey hunters carry (though maybe not you).

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from JM wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

No offence was ever taken, I actually agree with what you had to say; I just wanted to put in the opposing side of the argument. I feel you shouldn't take a stance on a topic without fully understanding both sides of an argument.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from JM wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Also, just to make my stance clear: I agree with legalizing pellet guns for turkey hunting in CA, I just feel that the .177 was a but small. Then again I haven't seen the modern air rifles you have described in action.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from 4everAutumn wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

I worked at a park where someone released 21 African geese. No problems for many years, but then they got big, old and very aggressive. They would mob kids and leave them bloody and bruised. They had to be dispatched, but after we netted the first two, the others would not let us get close. I shot the rest of them with my Crossman 2100 .177 pellet rifle. Most were beyond 30 yards and all dropped dead when shot in the head. These birds were close to 25 pounds and had very thick skulls.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steve Hickoff wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Great ranges of comments here, guys. Thanks for the input.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from JM wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Using a .177 for turkey is a joke. The average .177 caliber BB gun has little to no accuracy at over 15 yards, good luck hitting the brain with that.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)