My answer: 20-35 yards.
Shots taken at under 20 steps, the payload stays tennis-ball tight, and misses are more likely, especially with that serpentine turkey head juking around. Further out, especially beyond 40 yards, the swarm of pellets begins to open up. In the end, you need to know your shotgun and how that firearm handles a particular load. Load capabilities vary—some are dead on and tighter at longer ranges.
True enough, some of the newer extended-range loads available these days provide a mix of turkey shotshell options. As with deciding to shoot a legal jake or not, the choice is up to each hunter. I use them all . . .
Still for me, it’s often all about enjoying the moment as the gobbler works to my calls, even after that wild turkey steps into the edge of range. Then again, if that bird keeps angling away, you have to do what you have to do.
Case in point: I once killed a Texas Rio at 47 steps after I’d miss the gobbler at five yards. Most of the time my preferred range is that 20-35 yard window. Last spring I killed a Wyoming Merriam’s longbeard at less than 10 steps with a modern extended-range load of No. 5s. Tight shot. Dead bird. I didn’t need the extra 35 or 40 yards on top of that distance the shotshell offered.
What do you Strut Zoners think about the best shotgun range for shooting wild turkeys? What’s your favorite load, and what shotgun handles it best?