Shooting a wild turkey punctuates the enjoyable and sometimes frustrating process of scouting, finding, roosting, calling/decoying/patterning a spring gobbler into range. Your shotgun should drop it dead inside 40 yards, though most of the time I let birds work even closer. How about you?
My upbringing as a turkey hunter included simple-to-use pump shotguns by choice, options I saw depicted in the Outdoor Life issues of my youth, plus classy loaner firearms on the road at media camps. I’ve handled plenty, liked many, loved a few and forgotten about some others.
The media hunt deal is something like an arranged marriage to a bride you have to divorce before heading to the airport–even if you’ve fallen in love with her a bit. Sometimes you even buy the consignment shotgun afterwards, which I suppose is something like a mail-order bride. I digress…
My three picks for a favorite turkey hunting shotgun may or may not surprise you.
Remington 870 Express Super Magnum
Give me a simple to use pump-action 12 gauge and I’m good in the turkey woods. An 870 is easy to use and clean (even in the pre-dawn dark), so my first selection is a basic one. This particular shotgun’s load flexibility has always appealed to me, as it handles 2 ¾-, 3- and 3 ½-inch shells. Confession: I’ve only had one 870 pump jam on me with a gobbler in range. After I fixed it, somebody else inherited it. Hey, bad turkey hunting mojo can be bought and sold.
Browning Silver NWTF Infinity
I fell in love with this shotgun on one of those media hunt deals. The gas-operated autoloader smashed red Coke cans we set on a stick (hey, they have to keep overhead low on these writer hunts). I killed a couple Kentucky longbeards with it on consecutive days and have rarely had a loaner shotgun feel so right out of the box. The receiver is drilled and tapped for scope mounts with a semi-humpback design. A fiber-optic sight and three choke tubes are part of the deal. Still don’t own it, but posting this makes me think… maybe.
Remington Versa Max
Yep, another sweet autoloader. I’ve also had a couple of arranged writer camp marriages with the Versa Max, and dropped every Rio Grande gobbler I’ve ever pulled the trigger on while shouldering one. Each time the loaner shotgun was paired with a Trijicon RMR sighting system. Love them both. Like the Browning Silver, I don’t own this one either. So it goes. “Tis better to have loved and lost,” as poet Alfred Lord Tennyson (who we were forced to read in college lit classes) wrote, “than to never have loved at all.” He didn’t know a thing about turkey hunting shotguns though.
So there it is: a Big Green classic and sleek late-comer, plus a serviceable Browning autoloader. But enough about my tastes, what’s your favorite turkey hunting shotgun, Strut Zoners? Got a few on your wish list too?