Rimfire Rifle Training Ideas to Improve Your Accuracy

Stay Sharp This Spring with Rimfire Rifle Training

Where it’s legal to hunt with a rifle, hunters can achieve some incredible accuracy at impressive ranges. When compared to bows, shotguns, or even muzzleloaders, there’s really no competition. But unless you have a lot of spare time, some extra cash sitting around, and a decent shooting range close by, it can be tough to practice with a centerfire rifle throughout the rest of the year. Many hunters only break it out shortly before opening day to make sure it’s still on target. Have you ever thought about rimfire rifle training to improve your rifle shooting skills? If not, there are several reasons why you should consider it and some simple rifle shooting drills you could try this spring and summer.

Why Rimfire Rifle Training?

But first, why would you train with a rimfire rifle if your ultimate goal is to get better with a centerfire rifle? Wouldn’t it make more sense to just practice with your actual big game gun instead? Depending on your own situation, maybe or maybe not. Besides the actual mode of firing, there’s not a lot of difference between the actual shooting skills between the two rifle options.

  • You still rely on the basic processes – steady breathing, holding still, and gently squeezing the trigger. You also learn how to avoid target panic when you’re looking through the crosshairs with scoped rimfire rifles.
  • Rimfire rifles produce significantly less recoil and noise than a big game hunting centerfire rifle, which just makes it easier on the shoulder and ears, and helps you to avoid any kind of learned flinching behavior that will hurt your accuracy later on.
  • In addition, the ammunition for a .22 rifle, for example, is a lot cheaper than that for a .270 rifle. When you look at practicing every week from now until hunting season, that can really add up. Ultimately, that also means you can stretch your shooting budget further.
  • As another bonus, becoming proficient at using a rimfire rifle (like a classic Ruger 10/22) can help you once small game seasons open again in the fall. What can you hunt with a 22 long rifle? Squirrels and rabbits both immediately come to mind, but you might even be able to take game birds, varmint animals, and even feral hogs with the right shot placement.

Rimfire Rifle Training Drills

With all that said, hopefully, you’re convinced that rimfire rifle shooting practice would be a good thing for you to try. If so, here are some rimfire rifle training ideas that you can start in on right away this spring. If you keep at it over the summer, we think you’ll be impressed how much your accuracy improves by next fall.

Benchrest Shooting

While it might not directly apply to hunt scenarios (with a rimfire or centerfire rifle), benchrest shooting can really challenge you and improve your accuracy and precision. Find a shooting range near you (the best being one on your property) and set up a sturdy shooting bench. Use sets of sandbags or a shooting rest to find a position that is comfortable and lined up well with the target. For this exercise, start out at about 25 yards, but feel free to increase this steadily. With a good quality scope, you should be able to shoot out to some remarkable distances using this approach. Load your rimfire rifle, don your hearing protection (even for this), and settle in. For this rimfire rifle training exercise, focus all your attention on your breathing and trigger pull. Despite how long you’ve been shooting, it helps to renew your focus on these areas.

After confirming your range is safe, take a few steady, deep breaths. Let your crosshairs settle in and drift around the bullseye. Don’t panic and pull the trigger when you get close – simply let your crosshairs drift in a circle around it, and focus on slowly pulling the trigger so it is a genuine surprise to you when it happens. This will teach you how to shoot tighter groups with a rifle over time, teach you how to hold a rifle steady and form a muscle memory habit that will help you in any other rifle shooting situations. Start by shooting 5 to 10 rounds and see what your group looks like. Over time, you might add or subtract rounds depending on how your accuracy and precision are improving.

Timed Shots

For this next rifle training drill, you will focus on a more hunting-relevant shooting skill. After all, you generally won’t have all the time in the world to make a shot when you’re hunting squirrels or deer. Instead, this exercise is meant to challenge you to shoot within a certain time limit (e.g., 5 seconds). This might seem like it would undo all of the other training drill’s progress, but it is actually a cumulative gain. You can use a scope for this exercise or shoot using iron sights – as long as you keep it relevant to how you would hunt in the fall.


Set up a paper target sheet with several distinct bullseyes or mini targets on it, such as the Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-C Bull’s-eye. Step about 25 yards away from it. When you are ready to shoot, raise your rifle to your shoulder and start counting. Your goal is to acquire your target (the first one in the row), steady yourself, and make a shot within 5 seconds. At first, it will feel rushed and you will definitely miss your mark – often. After shooting three targets in a row, for example, take a break for several minutes to regain your composure. Over time, you should notice a real improvement in your ability to quickly find and hit the targets within that timeframe. If you start hitting 3 out of 3 targets, feel free to step further away rather than decrease your time (remember, you don’t want to force yourself to go too fast and create target panic).

Switching Shooting Positions

The last of these rimfire rifle training ideas focus on a similar principle as above – forcing yourself to get used to different shooting positions to make you a more efficient hunter. Because again, you won’t always get the perfect shot opportunity – sometimes you’ll be forced to shoot from an awkward position that you have never practiced before. Getting better at those shooting positions now will help you when the time comes. Again, start out at 25 yards and work your way up to 100 yards. Here are a few ideas for you to try, regardless if you are right- or left-handed:

  • Kneeling on one or both knees;
  • Lying down (prone) using a backpack as a rest or just your elbows;
  • Free-hand standing still;
  • Resting against the side of a tree trunk;
  • Sitting position using your knees as rests; or
  • Half-crouched and turned sideways (because you know it will eventually happen while hunting).

This spring and summer, don’t neglect to get out with the rimfire rifle once in a while to keep your shooting skills fresh for next season. If you have kids, practicing with the rimfire rifle is also a great way to include them in the training and fun.

Finding the Best Turkey Shotgun

What Gauge Shotgun is Best for Turkey Hunting?

You can’t go wrong with a 12-gauge shotgun when it comes to killing turkeys.  Not only is it the most versatile shotgun size for hunting multiple game species, but it also has the most options when it comes to finding the right load for your target species – especially turkeys. However, after the remarkable success of many new turkey specific loads over the past couple of years, ammo manufacturers are now catching up and creating similar loads chambered in 20-gauge. Shop the Best New Turkey Loads for 2019.

The use of 20-gauge shotguns for turkey hunting is becoming ever more popular and it’s not just the kids toting them around the woods anymore. Again, with shotshell technology advancing, the 20-gauge has been likened by a tribe of turkey hunters who prefer to cover lots of ground in the run-and-gun style of hunting. The biggest advantage is the weight and size reduction of a 20-gauge versus a 12-gauge, which can wear on you after a long day of chasing gobblers. Another major advantage a 20-gauge boasts is its significant reduction in recoil. Recoil is often one of the biggest fears for youth when it comes to shooting guns, which is why a 20-gauge will be their best friend.

Whether you opt for a trusty 12-gauge or lighter 20-gauge, be sure to consider the chamber size before you purchase. Turkeys are in fact a big and tough bird…just ask any experienced turkey hunter and they are sure to have a story of a longbeard they rolled only to watch get up and fly out sight, leaving the hunter in a moment of disbelief. Don’t be that guy. While you can certainly kill birds with 2 ¾ – inch shells, it’s advised to have a shotgun that can tote a 3-inch or even a 3 ½ – inch shell.  Again, improvements in turkey specific ammo such as the Winchester LongBeard XR and Federal 3rd Degree have made the smaller 3-inch shell size more capable than ever. With larger cartridge sizes, it’s not to go without saying, the larger the shell, the more recoil – an important consideration especially when it comes to youth hunters.

What is the Ideal Barrel Length for Turkey Hunting?

Shorter barrels have become the general norm for turkey guns because they are more maneuverable and lighter to carry.  Choosing a turkey gun with a barrel length between 21 – 26 inches will suit you well.  The shorter barrel length of a turkey gun makes it easier to use in a blind and is ideal for both adult and youth hunters.

What is the Best Action Type for Turkey Hunting?

First, we’ll look at the semi-auto shotgun.  A semi-auto will allow you to get off a second shot quicker than a pump, but there is an increased likelihood of experiencing a jam. A good semi-auto will often times double as a great waterfowl gun, however, you’ll pay significantly more for a semi-auto.  Semi-autos also have less recoil and they eliminate the need to physically load another shell.

Now, on to the pump action shotgun.  Here you’ll find perhaps the most popular do-everything shotgun of all time, the Remington Model 870 Express.  Pump action guns are extremely reliable and durable with proper maintenance. They often come with an attractive price tag and are simpler to use.  With a little bit of practice, you’ll be able to cycle through rounds nearly as fast as a semi-auto.  In the end, turkeys are made to be taken with one shot, after that you’re just sending prayers down range.

Should I Get a Turkey Choke?

If you’re setting your gun up to be a dynamic turkey killing machine, you’ll definitely want to equip it with a turkey choke.  A turkey choke is basically an extra-full choke that will hold a tighter pattern at further distances, thus increasing your effective range. Turkey chokes aren’t always a one size fits all type of accessory and they often require testing multiple chokes with different turkey loads to hone in on the best combination for your specific gun. Taking the time to experiment and pattern your shotgun before the season is the only way to ensure your shotgun will be shooting a perfect pattern when that longbeard steps into range.

Best Turkey Hunting Shotguns

Now that we’ve cruised through the meat of considerations to account for when choosing a turkey hunting specific shotgun, here are a few specific shotguns that will serve you well in the woods this season.

Remington 870 Express

The Remington 870 Express has been a time-tested legend in the turkey hunting woods. Perhaps the most popular shotgun of its time, Remington has kicked it up a notch with The 870 Express Super Magnum Turkey/Waterfowl model. The dual-purpose bird slayer cycles 2 3/4″, 3″ and 3 1/2″ 12-gauge rounds interchangeably and features full Mossy Oak Bottomland camo coverage that blends into everything. The 26″ barrel with HiViz fiber-optics sights makes it ideal for virtually every turkey hunting or waterfowl situation. Best of all, you can get the 870 Express chambered in 12-gauge or 20-gauge.

Benelli M2 Turkey

If you’re looking for a higher end shotgun to withstand the torments of belly crawling through the brush as you creep closer to that gobbler, look no further than the Benelli M2. The M2 Field shotgun is light, ruggedly built, and fast handling. It is the backbone of the Benelli semi-auto line that cycles everything from target loads to the heaviest 3-inch magnums. The ComforTech™ recoil-reduction system with gel recoil and combo pads dampens recoil by up to 48% and significantly decreases muzzle jump. The Benelli M2 is also available in 12 and 20-gauge models.

Browning BPS

When you combine the proven reliability of the most revered, top end pump shotgun ever with the extremely sophisticated and durable Hi-Vis 4-in-1 sights, you have a turkey smashing machine. It helps to have the time-tested Browning EXTRA FULL SPECIAL choke tube to put a tight, consistent pattern exactly where it needs to be.

Mossberg 535

The Mossberg® 535 Turkey Pump-Action Shotgun is specifically designed for serious turkey hunting. The 535 cycles and shoots 2-3/4″, 3″, and 3-1/2″ shells flawlessly. The 535 turkey gun comes with front and rear adjustable fiber optic sights that put you on target quickly, even in the deep woods. An XX-Full choke tube shoots tight patterns to knock toms down at maximum shotgun range. The buttstock, forend, receiver, and barrel are all finished in Mossy Oak® Obsession™ camo, designed specifically for spring turkey hunting. Mossberg’s 535 Turkey Pump-Action Shotgun delivers heavy magnum loads of shot at long range, cycles smoothly for quick follow-up shots, and blends into the turkey woods naturally. It’s everything you need to consistently bring big toms home year after year.

Wrap Up

Hopefully, this list of important turkey gun features has given you a reason to go out and buy another gun.  If not, hopefully, you’ve already got one.  In the end, buying the right gun ultimately comes down to personal preference.  Be sure to handle and shoulder as many different makes and models as you can to find one that fits you properly.  Also, spend plenty of time on the range experimenting with different types of ammo at different distances, as these two factors will significantly impact results.

Best Turkey Loads for 2019

Turkey Ammo and Best Loads for 2019

As hunters, we LOVE options…especially when it comes to guns, gear, and ammo. However, sometimes choosing the right option can be challenging as we enter the depths of analysis paralysis, only to succumb to the right choice via means of trial and error. In the world of turkey hunting, nothing has experienced greater change and advancement over the last couple of years than turkey hunting ammo. From blended loads to newly engineered wad capsules, turkey ammo has been dramatically improved to help you, the turkey hunter, be more successful than ever. Lucky for you, we’re here to dissect the hardest hitting turkey loads so you can buy and hunt with confidence. Here are a few of the best turkey hunting loads available for 2019 – you can hardly go wrong with any of these premier turkey hunting loads.

Winchester Long Beard XR

Available in both 12 gauge and 20 gauge loads, Winchester’s Long Beard XR offers extraordinarily tight patterns at long distances. Thanks to the Shot-Lok technology, Long Beard XR holds extremely tight patterns out to 60 yards. The Shot-Lok technology utilizes a capsule to hold the shot in a perfectly round formation as it travels through the barrel, which results in super tight patterns necessary for knocking down big old Toms time after time at extraordinary distances. Best of all, a box of 10 comes with a very affordable price tag. Bottom line, Long Beard XR has the knockdown power of popular heavier-than-lead loads at a fraction of the cost, meaning it’s a turkey-slamming game changer for hunters looking to push the limits.

Federal Premium’s Heavyweight TSS

Federal Premium’s Heavyweight TSS turkey loads are simply impressive. The incredibly high pellet count in both #7 and #9 shot, along with the ability to carry energy further, makes them ideal for 12 and 20 gauge shotguns. TSS or Tungsten Super Shot has a 22% heavier density than heavyweight shot and a 56% heavier `density than traditional lead shot. The 12 and 20 gauge shells include the FliteControl Flex™ wad that gives hunters the ability to shoot both ported and non-ported chokes. Despite a slightly higher price tag, Federal Premium’s Heavyweight TSS turkey loads are a gamechanger.

Federal Premium’s 3rd Degree

Federal 3rd Degree’s claim to fame is its use of a combination of shot sizes packed into one shell. The three-stage pellet payload creates an optimal pattern for killing turkeys at a variety of distances, making it perfect for all scenarios in the turkey woods. By offering #6 shot (close range), #5 Shot (medium range), and Heavyweight TSS (long range) all in the same load encapsulated by the FliteControl Flex Wad, your patterns are as lethal at 20 yards as they are at 60 yards. Combo loads like Federal’s 3rd Degree deliver larger, more forgiving patterns at close range, while still providing deadly performance at long distance, which is its main advantage over other loads.

Hevi-Shot Hevi Metal Turkey

Hevi-Shot’s Hevi Metal Turkey loads is a solid option to chamber in your shotgun this turkey season. Coming in at an affordable everyday price point, this load utilizes the knockdown power of steel shot combined with Hevi-Shot pellets to deliver dense patterns. Pellet count is kept up by varying the shot sizes, and the higher density of Hevi-Shot pellets helps to retain energy further downrange. Since the HEVI-Metal® Turkey load will pattern better than many lead only loads, you are much more likely to walk out of the woods with a long beard draped over your shoulder. It’s also one of the most environmentally friendly turkey loads on the market since it doesn’t contain lead shot.

Browning TSS Tungsten Turkey Shot

Browning Ammunition also made the leap to include a TSS load for turkey hunters this year with its launch of the TSS Tungsten Turkey load. Available in either duplex loads or single shot size loads, this new non-toxic turkey ammo delivers a powerful pattern up to 60+ yards. Options include 3-inch 12- and 20-gauge and 3 ½-inch 12-gauge with a 50/50 blend of both #7 and #9 TSS pellets or with just #7s. Like all the TSS loads, they come with a heftier price tag, but who cares if it means bagging a longbeard this season.

Remington Premier High Velocity Magnum Copper Plated Turkey Load

Remington Premier Magnum Turkey Loads provide that extra edge to reach out with penetrating power and dense, concentrated patterns. Its magnum-grade, Copper-Lokt shot is protected by the Power Piston wad and cushioned with special polymer buffering. All in all, Remington’sHigh-Velocity Magnum Turkey load is no slouch when it comes to filling your turkey tag this spring.

Wrap Up

As you can see, turkey ammo has made enormous leaps and bounds in terms of delivering a lethal pattern at ultra-long distances. With technological advancements such as shot encapsulation, blended loads, and TSS, turkeys have never been more afraid and hunters have never been more prepared. Of course, every shot taken by a hunter is still subject to human error, which is why it’s imperative you pattern your turkey gun before heading afield this season.

3 Tips that Make Patterning Your Turkey Shotgun a Breeze

Tips For Patterning Your Turkey Shotgun

Preparation often defines a hunt. No one wants to be left leaning against a tree wondering what went wrong as a big old longbeard is flying away. You did everything right up to that point . . . you scouted hard, found where the Tom was roosted, had the perfect decoy setup, and called the longbeard into range. All that was left to do was to finish the job with a well-executed shot. You could’ve sworn you had the bead right on the turkey’s neck, but when you squeezed the trigger the bird ended up flying away instead of flopping on the ground. What happened? Chances are it wasn’t your aim, but rather the gun/choke/ammo combination you were using. So, did you pattern your turkey gun before heading afield this spring?

Whether it’s your first turkey season or your thirtieth, it’s imperative to pattern your turkey gun before the hunt every season so you don’t end up watching Mr. Longspur fly out of your dreams. In this article, we’ll walk you through the right way to pattern your turkey gun.

How to Pattern Your Shotgun

Before we dive into the importance of ammo and choke selection, we’ll breakdown the right way to pattern your gun from a setup perspective. First, you’ll want to be shooting in an area where you can safely shoot at 20, 30, and 40 yards. Shooting at different distances will help you understand the pattern and your maximum range. Plan on having plenty of turkey targets on hand because you’ll need them to compare patterns at different distances, in addition to comparing different types of ammo.

Before you shoot, label each target with the distance and type of shotshell you are shooting. For instance, 20 yards, Longbeard XR, #5 shot would be what you’d write on the target. This way you can easily compare targets after you are done shooting a variety of loads at varying distances. In addition to labeling the targets, it’s a good idea to have a solid shooting rest like the Caldwell Lead Sled to minimize any type of user error.

Once you’ve got your patterning range and supplies in place, it’s time to start shooting.

Ammo Selection

Over the last couple of years, turkey ammo has made enormous leaps and bounds in terms of delivering a lethal pattern. There are two main technological advancements that are at the forefront of this turkey ammo revolution – the first being shot encapsulation, and the second being the introduction of combo loads. Many of the top brands are now using shot encapsulation as a means to hold a tighter pattern at longer distances. In short, shot encapsulation relies on a newly designed wad to hold and push the shot through the barrel in a perfect circle. In other words, the wad capsule protects the shot from becoming deformed before it leaves the barrel, thus the round shot flies truer and holds a tighter pattern for a longer distance.

In addition to encapsulating wads, some turkey loads like the Federal 3rd Degree, use a combination of shot sizes packed into one shell. By offering #6 shot, #5 Shot, and Heavyweight TSS all in the same load, your patterns are as lethal at 20 yards as they are at 40 yards. Combo loads deliver larger, more forgiving patterns at close range, while still providing deadly performance at long distance.

Most shotguns have a specific brand or type of shell that will shoot better than the next. For this reason, it’s a wise idea to buy a few boxes of different turkey loads. Some of the most popular loads include Winchester Longbeard XR, Federal 3rd Degree, Federal Heavy Shot TSS, and Hevi-Shot Triple Beard. Once you’ve got a couple of different shotshells on hand, shoot one at each distance for comparison. You’d be shocked at how different some of the patterns shoot. Based upon your target comparison you can decide which one fits your gun the best based on the accuracy and number of pellets in the vital kill zone.

What Turkey Choke Should You Use?

When turkey season rolls around, don’t forget to change out your choke unless turkey hunting is all the gun is used for. If you’re lousy at remembering the simple things, like swapping out a choke at the end of your barrel, you may end up missing a solid opportunity because your pellet pattern didn’t jive with the distance between you and the bird. As a rule of thumb, choose a choke that centers most of your pellet pattern within a 10-inch circumference.

Adding a turkey choke to your shotgun is a great way to turn your gun into a dynamic turkey killing machine.  A turkey choke is basically an extra-full choke that will hold a tighter pattern at further distances, thus increasing your effective range. There have been thousands of turkeys killed with full chokes as well, so don’t think you have to go out and buy a turkey choke. However, it’s advised that you don’t use a shotgun choked with a modified or improved cylinder to kill turkeys, as this pattern is better designed for shooting birds of flight. Do a little research to find out what turkey chokes other hunters are using with the same model shotgun as you and test it out. Test the pattern of your chokes at twenty yards, thirty yards, and forty yards to determine your effective range.

Wrap Up

By the time you are done patterning your shotgun, you should have all the information you need to determine what turkey load and choke tube works best in your gun. Don’t let a few extra dollars spent on another box of shells be the reason that longbeard flew out of dreams.




Reasons Why Small Bore Turkey Shotguns Are Effective

Advantages of Small Bore Turkey Shotguns


Most turkey hunters have probably never used anything but a .12-gauge when hunting turkeys. Why would you? It is the perfect combination of power and range for taking longbeards, especially considering the advances to turkey shotguns and accessories over the last few years. Unknown to most, there are several reasons to choose a small bore shotgun for turkeys.


Small Bore Turkey Shotguns


Before we touch on the reasons why you would downsize your shotgun for turkeys, we first need to define what “small bore” means when it comes to turkey hunting shotguns. Small bore refers to any shotgun that is less than the traditional .12-gauge shotgun used by most turkey hunters. These would include, primarily, the .20-gauge and .410-gauge shotguns available on the market.


The evolution of the turkey gun in the last decade has gotten us more deadly shotshells and the promise from high-end shotguns of being able to drop a bird out to 50 and even 60 yards. Of course, this is better, right? Well not necessarily. All of this innovation leaves most hunters confused about what turkey shotgun accessories such as choke tubes, shotshells and ultimately turkey hunting gun recommendations they should be using. Let’s remember that the target on a turkey is a small diameter (2-3 inch) circle at the base of the neck. These improved .12-gauge shotguns and all that go with them certainly have the punch to take a turkey’s head right off, let alone hit one in the kill zone.


This is where the small bore turkey guns come into play. Killing a bird successfully is about getting close. Most turkeys are killed within 25 yards, regardless of the shotgun used, so the need for highly complex shotshells and long-range shotguns is minimized to some extent. Instead of spending time testing different shotgun shells and seeing how far you can shoot a turkey silhouette on the range, focus on getting close this spring, which takes all the complexity out of the picture.



How to Kill a Turkey with a .20-gauge Shotgun

You will only be willing to give up your trusted turkey gun if you actually are able to take a bird down with a smaller gauge turkey hunting gun. Here are three key tips you need to know in order to kill a turkey with a .20-gauge shotgun.


  1. Find the right turkey loads. You can stretch a .20-gauge shot out a few more yards with the right turkey load. Try different brands and different shot sizes until you have one patterned consistently in the kill zone at 30 yards.


  1. Know you have to be patient. Killing a turkey with a smaller bore shotgun will require more patience because the bird will need to be closer. More time observing the amazement of a strutting Tom around your decoys is not necessarily a bad thing.


  1. Good shots are a must. The power in a .20-gauge load will be slightly less than the .12-gauge shell and also hold less shot. Along with patience, you have to be sure of a good, clean shot in order to reduce misses and wounded birds.


Advantages to Choosing Small Bore Turkey Shotguns

There are several advantages to using turkey hunting shotguns that are chambered in smaller calibers. The first is that these smaller chambered shotguns for turkey hunting are usually lighter and more compact than its larger .12-gauge brother. You might think it is only a pound or two difference, but that pound of weight can mean a lot in the woods. Lighter shotguns allow you to shoulder your gun for longer periods of time compared to heftier shotguns for turkeys. When that gobbler hangs up just out of range or he is coming in silent, being able to hold your shotgun in a shooting position without moving can be all the difference in getting a shot off. Also, there often comes a time in the spring gobbler season when you have to put in miles on the ground to seek out unresponsive birds. Toting a heavy turkey hunting gun over ridge tops all morning can put some serious strain on your shoulder. Lighter variations of turkey shotguns let you cover more ground when you need to find the birds.


The second advantage to turkey guns in lighter gauges are the doors they open up to other hunters. For instance, these calibers are much better suited for young hunters. The recoil from larger caliber shotguns for turkeys on a youngster’s shoulder can cause them to miss and more important scare them from continuing the sport. A knock down from a big bore shotgun on a kid’s shoulder can scare them from shooting it again. These small bore shotguns not only are easier for kids to control from a weight and size standpoint like we previously mentioned, but they have less recoil. If you are a parent of an up and coming turkey hunter, start out by purchasing an all-purpose .410 caliber shotgun like the Mossberg 510 Super Batam. With good turkey hunting and the right shells, your kids can easily drop an old tom at 20- to 30-yards.


Mossberg 510 Super Batam


The .20-gauges are even more versatile for youth hunters because you can use them yourself for a few years turkey hunting while also teaching your kids how to shoot them. The Benelli Nova Youth APG is one shotgun for turkeys that fits this description. Once they are ready for the woods, this Benelli turkey gun can give you a few more yards of range without the recoil of larger, more traditional turkey guns. Most shotguns come with or have the ability to accept expandable butt spacers to add or remove length as needed as your kids grow with the shotgun. This is also a great feature, along with reduced recoil, for women and senior turkey hunters.


Benelli Nova Youth APG


Finally, there comes the all-important cost aspect. Smaller bore shotguns are going to save you some money from the gun itself to the cost of shotgun shells. Turkey shells are going to be a few dollars cheaper than their .12-gauge counterpart. A significant difference if you are spending substantial time on the range. In addition, you can expect to save anywhere from a few tens of dollars to a few hundred dollars when buying a smaller bore turkey gun. Smaller gauge shotguns are often the best turkey gun for the money, and price alone makes it a good reason to check them out.


Shotguns for Turkey Are Only One of Many Parts to Being Successful


The shotgun has transformed from a general firearm for hunting all sorts of game into a highly specialized weapon designed for specific species. Turkey shotguns evolved from here just like waterfowl shotguns. The shotgun is only one part of the turkey hunt, however. Smaller caliber shotguns reduce your effective range, no doubt. But if you are a sloppy caller or move frequently as a gobbler works his way in, it will not matter how far you can shoot. Choosing to forego a .12-gauge shotgun for turkeys and pick up a lighter, more compact smaller bore turkey shotgun has many advantages while also knowing you have to up your turkey skills for a clean, effective shot.

Beginners Guide to Handgun Shooting

10 Handgun Shooting Tips for First Time Shooters


Handgun shooting is growing in popularity with more diverse audiences than ever before. People are choosing to shoot for recreation, hunting and purchasing handguns for personal protection. What this means is that there are many more first-time handgun shooters out there than ever before.


Learning how to shoot a pistol accurately and safely takes practice. Purchasing a handgun is just the start as you begin shooting. You have to dedicate time and resources to develop proper technique, understand the rules of gun safety and be consistent at shooting accurately to be effective and have fun. Here are 10 handgun shooting tips for beginners to get you started.


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Handgun Shooting Tips Before Firing the First Round


Safety Comes First


Many shooters, even beginner shooters, think that safety is a given. Of course, you need to be safe when shooting firearms. However, it is so important that it needs to be shooting tip number one. Continually reemphasizing safety, whether you are heading to the range to shoot a pistol or taking out a handgun for big game hunting, is essential.


The standard rules of gun safety are key points that ever person handling and shooting firearms should know.


  • Every gun should be treated as if it were loaded each and every time you store it, handle it, clean it and shoot it.


  • Never point a firearm at anything or anybody that you are not intent on shooting.


  • The firearm’s safety should always be on until you are ready to shoot.


  • Keep your finger away from the trigger at all times until you are absolutely sure you are ready to fire the gun.


  • Always know the target you intend to shoot and what is around it.


As a beginning shooter, it is important to practice these safety rules each time you are around handguns and firearms. Treating a gun as if it were loaded means you should never assume it is unloaded. The first point of action when picking up a handgun is to point it in a safe direction and make sure it is unloaded.


Handgun shooting safely revolves around knowing your target. You only want to draw your weapon at something you want to shoot at. When shooting, make sure the safety of the handgun is on and your finger is away from the trigger until you are ready to shoot at the right target. Taking a firearms safety class is also a good idea. Here, certified instructors will walk you through every aspect of safety and basic handgun shooting techniques. These rules and practicing them each time you are around a firearm will keep you and others safe.


Protection for Yourself


Safety also includes your safety while shooting. Each person handgun shooting should have hearing and eye protection. Hearing protection ranges from ear plugs to full coverage earmuffs. Find a pair that is comfortable for you but also meets the minimum standards for firearm noises. Also, make sure you have eye protection in the form of shooting glasses. Sunglasses will not cut it. Make sure your protective eyewear is ballistics tested and impact certified. Rounds coming out of semi-auto handguns can easily injure your eyes if struck not to mention other fine materials that can be disbursed when shooting.


Double Check Your Handgun and its Ammunition


It may sound simple to more experience handgun shooting enthusiasts, but always make sure you have the correct ammunition for the handgun you are shooting. This is one of the most important pistol shooting tips for beginners as there are many of calibers of bullets as well as variations within the same caliber. Putting the wrong ammunition in your firearm is a sure way to damage your weapon and cause injury to yourself. If you are still unsure, it is always a good choice to reference your manual and ask a sales associate at your local gun shop.




More Handgun Shooting Tips for Beginners


Enroll in a Shooting Class for First Time Shooters


Local gun ranges and shooting facilities offer classes throughout the year for first-time shooters and beyond. Handgun shooting classes can often be free of charge if put on by local outdoor groups or law enforcement agencies. In more elaborate shooting facilities, there is usually a small fee for signing up for shooting classes.


These classes walk you through everything from gun safety briefly discussed above to pistol shooting fundamentals like proper handgun stance and grip all the way up to more advanced shooting drills. Classes like these are a great way to get a basic understanding of handgun shooting, be safe while shooting and build your confidence to shoot a pistol on your own.


Work with a Shooting Instructor


Better than enrolling in a shooting class, hiring an instructor can be one of the best ways to learn pistol shooting fundamentals. When it comes to finding a good instructor, you have to seek out reviews and trust your instincts. Ask around the range or shooting club about the person you are thinking about shooting with. Do they have references and how long have they been a handgun shooting instructor? Also, if you feel uncomfortable with your instructor when you first meet, choose a new one. Having someone you do not feel comfortable around while shooting is unsafe and unproductive.


A good instructor will tailor their training to your skill level. He or she will provide constructive criticism on how you handle the firearm and how to shoot a handgun better. Absorb their knowledge and practice the shooting skills they show you to become a more competent shot with a pistol.


The Pistol Shooting Grip is Everything


The pistol shooting grip drives how well you shoot your handgun. Having an incorrect grip can keep you off target and even potentially injure you. Start by taking your trigger hand, which is the hand you will use to pull the trigger, and surround the grip. Remember to make sure your fingers are away from the trigger for safety. Next, the supplemental hand (support hand) wraps over the top of your trigger hand exerting firm but not overwhelming pressure against it. The key is to develop a consistent and comfortable grip that puts you on the mark each time.


A good grip is also important to protect your hands. Fast shooting semi-automatic pistols can grab a thumb in an instant. In addition, revolvers can burn your hand and fingers from the firing gap between the cylinder and chamber.


Understand Your Sights


Depending on the type of pistol you have purchased, it may have fixed or adjustable sights. First, determine which are on your handgun. As you shoot more, if they are fixed sights, you will start to know how to aim accurately. The positioning of the front and back parts of the sight can vary from pistol to pistol, but through practice, you will know how each needs to be lined up.


Adjustable sights are easier to use in the sense that like a rifle scope, they can be adjusted for better accuracy and to fit your shooting style. Start with the factory settings then as you get more comfortable shooting, tweak the sights to hone in each shot on target.




Do Not Just Practice Firing Your Pistol


Practice makes perfect and the more practice you take part in the better you will be as a shooter. Put simply, practice is the only way a beginner shooter will learn. Shooting on a regular basis will help you understand your pistol, become competent at the range and ultimately make you more successful at hitting the target. Shooting, however, is not the only part you should be practicing.


  • Practice tearing down your pistol. If you spend a lot of time practicing shooting, then your pistol will need to be cleaned often. Some are easier than others to dismantle and put back together. Reference you manual or have someone familiar with your type of pistol show you the correct way to tear it down. Practicing this procedure will speed up cleaning and make sure you get a functioning pistol assembled.


  • Work on different shooting positions. This beginner pistol shooting drill can be done at home. For safety, however, triple check that your firearm is unloaded, the magazine is removed and no ammunition is nearby. Work on positioning your feet in different stances, from standing, sitting, kneeling and laying down. This is particularly important for those who purchased a pistol for self-defense. You may never know what position you will be in when it comes to defending yourself so practicing now will prepare you.


  • Shoot different targets. Repeatedly firing at the same target is not going to make you a better shot. Use different size and style targets as you progress in your shooting ability. Also, shoot at variable distances. Try close range, medium range and long distance to build your basic handgun shooting skills.


Never Settle with Your Shooting Skills


Even after you have been through a few shooting classes and spend time with an instructor one-on-one, your education is not over. To be effective and accurate with handgun shooting, you have to continually aim to learn more and practice. There is always an aspect of your shooting skills that can be improved.


Handgun Shooting Should Always Be Fun


One of the reasons for purchasing a handgun is for recreational shooting. Remember that when you are on the range. Shooting is a serious undertaking with the attention it commands but handgun shooting should always be fun. There is no other feeling like shooting a pistol.


As a beginner shooter, there are many pistol shooting fundamentals to learn and practice. Shooting skills will not come overnight. It takes practice and training to become comfortable and proficient at handgun shooting. These handgun shooting tips for beginners can hopefully progress your skills and performance on the range. Do not get discouraged if you fail to center shots your first few times on the range, but rather keep at it and you will be shooting accurately in no time.

Beat the Winter Blues with Small Game Hunting

Mid-Winter Small Game Hunting Fun


This time of year, many people tend to get a little depressed. It’s probably because deer season is done, the holidays are mostly wrapped up, and the long winter months lie ahead of us. Not too encouraging, right? Fortunately, there are lots of great activities we can keep busy with over the cold, dark winter. Small game hunting is one way to satisfy our need to do something fun during this time frame. It keeps us active outdoors and can allow us to still do some hunting during a time when most hunting seasons are closed. Let’s dive in and discuss the species to hunt, habitats to find them, gear you need, and hunting methods.


Small Game Hunting Seasons Kentucky


Why Small Game Hunting?

As we mentioned above, there are so many reasons to hunt small game animals this time of year. First, you’re probably bored of watching television already and looking for something to do. Chasing small game critters is a way to spend an invigorating day outdoors. In fact, the cooler weather and lack of vegetation can make walking much more pleasant and increase your opportunity of spotting game before they flush. Second, it’s one of the few hunting seasons that are still open for most hunters to capitalize on. Small game animals are usually very plentiful and can be hunted for extended seasons in many areas. Additionally, small game hunting keeps your hunting and shooting skills sharp so you don’t have to wait as long until next season. Just because there are potentially a lot of small game in the woods doesn’t mean they’re easy to get. Some of them can really take a calculated plan of attack or catch you totally off-guard. A day of hunting small game animals in the woods will almost always teach you something new, so it’s really a good learning opportunity if you look at it that way. If you hunt with a dog in the fall, it’s nice to give them some extra exercise and practice by getting out during the extended small game hunting season, especially if you’re training a new puppy. Finally, very few people actually go out this time of year for hunting purposes. Nine times out of ten, you’ll probably have the public land woods to yourself instead of constantly running into other hunters.


Small Game Species, Habitats, and Seasons

So what animals are we talking about for small game hunting? It all depends on where you live and hunt, but these will generally consist of birds (e.g., ruffed grouse, woodcock, pheasant, waterfowl, quail, doves, etc.), squirrels (i.e., gray or fox squirrels), and rabbits (e.g., cottontails, snowshoe hares, jack rabbits, etc.). Of all these types of game meat, the larger birds and rabbits will easily provide a great dinner for two, while a few of the smaller birds and squirrels are great in a slow cooker together.


The bird species are found in all kinds of different habitats. Upland bird habitats can overlap a little in some locales. Grouse and woodcock prefer dense, brushy thickets of dogwoods or alder. Pheasant, quail, and doves prefer agricultural fields and grassy swales. Waterfowl species obviously prefer waterbodies, such as rivers, sloughs, or ponds. Go to your state’s natural resource website and you can easily find a list of game birds for your area.


Squirrels can be found in many places across the country, but both gray and fox squirrels require mature deciduous forests to really thrive. They use the mature trees to nest in and depend on the nuts and seeds they gather from them for food, though they will also happily raid bird feeders and corn cribs.





The three primary rabbit species all use very different habitats. Cottontails and snowshoe hares can overlap their ranges a little. But wherever winters are tough and snow really piles up, snowshoe hares are more common than cottontails because of their adapted feet that keep them on top of the snow drifts. They also prefer conifer and aspen forests, while cottontails prefer dense brushy woodlots, shelterbelts, and overgrown fields. Jack rabbits are usually found out west in deserts, farm fields, and scrublands.


As we said, many small game hunting seasons extend for another couple months. Most of the bird hunting seasons tend to wrap up pretty quickly as the New Year approaches, so you don’t have much time to still capitalize on that. But keep it in mind for next year, as late December bird hunts can be a lot of fun. Fortunately, squirrel and rabbit seasons are often open through mid-winter, which allows you plenty of time to still stretch the legs and put some more meat in the freezer.


Best Small Game Hunting Gear

Obviously things will vary a bit depending on how far north or south you hunt and what kind of environment you’re in. But the basic hunting gear you need is pretty similar no matter where you hunt. You probably have a lot of it already, so the gear shouldn’t take you long to gather.


First and foremost, you need the right gun for small game hunting. Everyone likes to choose their own small game hunting weapons, but there are some recommendations. If you’ll be bird hunting, you definitely need a shotgun because any bird you hunt will almost never be sitting still when you shoot. They’ll likely be flying by your head in a feathery blur. For smaller birds like quail, dove, and even some grouse situations, you can get by with a 20 gauge. But for shooting at flushing pheasants, waterfowl, or grouse, a 12 gauge is a solid option. Provided you have the right ammunition, it has the power you need to knock them down quickly. In fact, it’s probably the best shotgun gauge for small game in general. The Remington 870 Express Tky 12 gauge is an attractive gun for small game hunting. It’s got a camouflaged synthetic stock and has a 21-inch barrel, so you can sneak it through the woods easily. But because it can handle 3-inch shells, you can also hunt larger waterfowl species and pheasants with no problem.




For rabbit and squirrel hunting, you have another option. If you’ll be stalking up on squirrels and rabbits, you could also use small game hunting rifles. Typically, the best small game caliber is a .22 since a clean head shot won’t ruin any meat like a shotgun will. The Henry Classic Lever Action 22LR is a fun and fast-shooting rifle due to the classic Western style action. While the open sights are accurate for close-up shots, you could always add a scope for tack-driving shots at further distances. This could make it the best rabbit gun for these situations. The only downside with rifles is that you really need the animal to be holding still to make any ethical shot. Sometimes rabbits and squirrels will run a short distance and freeze, relying on their camouflage to hide them. This is the perfect scenario for the .22 mentioned above or even a small game air rifle.




Other than small game guns, you’ll also require some of your basic outdoor gear, including good boots, warm clothing, and a hunting vest. There really aren’t many specific small game hunting accessories you need. Depending on the conditions, you should have performance clothing to keep your body warm and dry through whatever weather you might encounter. A vest with an over-sized and waterproof back pouch is nice since rabbits tend to make a mess and fill up space quickly.


Small Game Hunting Methods

Now let’s dive into some small game hunting tips you can use to put some winter meat in the freezer. For winter bird hunting, it can be really difficult to hunt by yourself simply because they will rarely flush unless you almost step on them. It’s best to bring a family member or hunting buddy along. Walking side by side, spaced about 30 yards apart can be useful for flushing birds to your partner. It’s critical when hunting with someone else to always know where they are and which direction is safe to shoot. This can sometimes be difficult if you’re hunting in dense conifers or brushy areas. But flushing a bird and passing on the shot is still better than walking around all day by yourself and not seeing anything.


With winter rabbit hunting, you can be successful by yourself or with a partner. If you’re by yourself, walk along key winter habitat areas (e.g., dense brushy areas or low-growing conifers) and pause frequently with your gun ready. This will often scare a rabbit into flushing out of cover. If you have a shotgun, point and shoot as soon as you can, trying to lead the rabbit a bit. If you have a rifle, wait and see if they stop. If they do, you’d better be quick and take a head shot right under the ear. For small game hunting with a friend, you can either use the same upland bird hunting approach above, or make miniature drives for each other. One person basically stands in a spot where they can see a distance or along a dominant rabbit trail. The other should make a big circle through thick cover no more than 50 to 75 yards away to try to flush a rabbit towards their friend. Again, knowing where the other hunter is at all times is critical.


For squirrel hunting, you can easily hunt by yourself. Start your hunt by quietly walking through a mature forest, keeping an eye on the canopy. You may startle a feeding squirrel from the ground, but by the time you notice them, they will likely already be up in a tree. When you see one, try to close the distance as best you can since they will already be 40 to 50 feet up in a tree before you even approach. Use other trees for rests if you’re using a rifle so you can get an accurate head shot.


This winter, get outdoors and do some small game hunting while you can. It’s a surefire way to beat the winter blues and cabin fever if you’re feeling a little claustrophobic inside. And you might luck out with some extra wild game meals.

Hunting Rifles | From the Shooting Range to the Field

The Overall Process for New Hunting Rifles

With various hunting seasons upon us, a lot of people have been heading to the woods lately to see what they can put in the freezer. Many hunters have owned and used the same hunting rifles, shotguns, or muzzleloaders for years. But there are many new hunters who have just bought their first gun to use this year. If you’re not quite at that stage yet, but are considering it soon, there will be a lot of decisions to make. Which animals are you targeting, how much money do you want to spend, and what kind of gun are you thinking of getting? For the purposes of this article, we’ll assume you’re looking at hunting rifles since it is prime deer season time across the country.

Hunting rifles, where legal to use, are excellent weapons for big game animals. You can shoot very accurately and reliably at long distances, provided you have a quality set of optics with it. The ammunition types are very customizable, depending on what animal you’re chasing. You can find many different types of rifles that are either very lightweight for spot and stalk hunts or heavy duty for tree stand hunting. There are plenty of accurate actions to choose from as well.

What You Need for Hunting Rifles 

If this all sounds like a good fit for your hunting preferences, it’s time to consider buying one. It might get confusing when you’re just starting out, especially when you look at the long rows of gun accessories on the store shelves. It can seem like you’re going to have to break the bank to possibly buy everything. But you don’t need every last accessory to get out hunting. Instead, you only need a few basic items.

Hunting Rifle

The hunting gun you choose should really depend on your personality and hunting goals. For example, if you’re not likely to hunt anything larger than a whitetail and you’re smaller-framed, buying a high-powered .338 is just asking for regrets. Similarly, buying a .243 is insufficient if you’re a larger person who wants to take on a moose head to head. Take time to read about the best caliber and cartridge for various North American game animals to see which one might be right for you and your situation. The best deer rifle caliber is often debated as the .270 or .30-06, but it really depends on your preference. You can usually find a quality brand and model of guns for sale cheaper than you think, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t find anything right away.

The Ruger® American .270 Winchester is about the best all around hunting rifle for most wild game species and body shapes, but many people prefer the .270 for deer hunting. Its sleek synthetic stock reduces the overall weight of the rifle, and the rubber buttpad helps absorb and reduce the recoil force. Additionally, the bolt action is considered a very dependable style, which is always a bonus for new hunters. Hunting guns need to be dependable above all other things. Ruger® rifles are also known for their high quality, along with Remington® rifles or Winchester® rifles.

hunting rifles from the shooting range to the field | Whittaker Guns


Sure, you can shoot hunting rifles without a scope, but that really takes the advantage away from using a rifle in the first place. Plus, you don’t need a crazy, high-end version to extend your ethical shooting range by a significant amount. A simple 3-9×40 mm scope will set you up for hunting at close and far distances alike. They’re relatively cheap and pretty easy to mount and sight in too, which we’ll discuss below.


Having a sling to carry your firearm is definitely a nice item to have; especially if you have to walk a good distance to your tree stand. They’re cheap too, so there’s really no reason to not have one for all of your deer hunting rifles.

Cleaning Kit

As with any firearm you own, you should have a corresponding kit or various gun care tools to clean it thoroughly. This should include a rod/brush attachment or bore snake to clean the inside of the barrel, some solvent and lubricating oil, and a rag to wipe down the exterior. If you have just these three items, you can do a very good job at cleaning your hunting rifles.

Hunting Rifles Out of the Box 

When you finally purchase your firearm, the fun can really begin. Before heading to the woods, you need to unbox it, assemble it, and sight it in. Just about any gun you buy from a reputable source will contains simple instructions to assemble and operate a firearm. Many people get intimidated at this stage, thinking they don’t know enough about guns to do it themselves. But it really is a piece of cake.

hunting rifles from the shooting range to the field | Whittaker Guns

Ammunition for Rifles

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the operating manual and the anatomy of the gun, you can go pick up some ammunition. Again, this will depend on the animal you intend on hunting. Explain to an associate what you will be hunting, if that makes you feel more at ease, so that they can help guide you to the right ammo for sale. For deer hunting with the Ruger .270 example above, a 100 to 150 grain cartridge is more than enough to ethically and quickly kill a deer. It always helps to use the same ammunition you would use for hunting at the shooting range, so you know exactly how it performs and you can get comfortable using it.

Sighting in Hunting Rifles

Now that you have a box of cartridges to shoot, it’s time to find a shooting range near you. It’s even nicer if you know somebody who owns some land where you can practice in privacy. But many new hunters are more likely to use a shooting range for the initial sighting in process. If you have a brand new scope set up on the rifle and you’ve never shot it before, the first few steps will take a while.

A bore-mounted laser is the easiest way to sight a new scope in. You simply insert the bore sight into the muzzle of the rifle, mount the gun to your shoulder (a shooting sled is better), and look through the scope. Adjust the windage and elevation of the scope slowly until your crosshairs are roughly lined up with the laser dot on the target downrange. A bore sight is meant to get you shooting on paper, but the final adjustments need to be done through shooting practice. You can remove the bore sight and take a few shots, adjusting the scope further after each one. It really helps to shoot at grid paper, so you know exactly how far you should adjust the scope each time. Once you’re happy with how it’s shooting, take a few shots that will simulate a hunting scenario. For example, set up at a distance that you anticipate to shoot from and take your time to really visualize a hunting situation.

After squeezing the trigger, focus on keeping the rifle in place for 3 to 5 seconds, which will feel like an eternity. But doing this in practice sessions will get your body used to focusing on holding it steady. Most people tend to quickly look up from the scope sights after shooting, especially when their adrenaline is pumping from a wild encounter with a big deer. Unfortunately, this could cause you to bump your gun in anticipation and interfere with long shots. The steadier you remain throughout the shooting process, the more accurate you will be and the better hunter you will be. If your rifle is still shooting accurately in this hunting simulation, it’s time to move on to a real hunt.

Into the Woods 

Assuming you’ve gone through the steps above to get your hunting firearm ready, you need to reflect back on the questions you initially asked yourself. What type of hunting are you going to do? Would you prefer to ambush wild game animals from a tree stand or ground blind, or stalk them on foot? The answers to these questions will influence how you approach a hunt.

For the Ruger .270 example above, you could either hunt from a stationary point or stalk animals, since the gun is fairly lightweight, yet heavy-duty enough to easily kill a whitetail. Hunting rifles for deer can be very variable. Regardless of which method you choose to hunt, the actual shooting process will go about the same way. When you see a target game animal, very slowly move your rifle into position. A mature whitetail is certain to spook if you move very quickly. Settle the crosshairs on their vital area and slowly let them circle around. Most people try to quickly pull the trigger as soon as the crosshairs slip behind the front shoulder, but this can cause you to jerk the gun and make a poor shot. By letting the crosshairs make circles around the general vital area and slowly squeezing the trigger, you get way more accurate and consistent shot groupings. It’s important that you don’t intentionally try to circle the target area, but that you merely think about it circling. You’ll start to notice it moving on its own. If you practiced before the season, you should have developed some muscle memory that will hold you steady for a few seconds, ensuring a better shot. Then it’s time to get on the blood trail and collect your prize.

It’s Action Time 

If you’re a new hunter or haven’t bought your own hunting weapon before, hopefully this post explains the process for you. Hunting rifles really are a valuable piece of anyone’s hunting equipment. Looking for hunting rifles for sale in Kentucky? Visit Whittaker guns for all your gun needs.

Shotgunning Fall Upland Game Birds

Shooting Tips for Bagging Fall Upland Game Birds

shotgunning fall upland game birds | Whittaker GunsWhether you are busting big timber in search of grouse or moving alongside fence rows for pheasants, shotgunning fall upland game birds is a different kind of hunting compared to big game hunting. It requires a skill set unlike other types of hunting. Everything is moving, from yourself to the birds not to mention the concentration required while hunting to watch everything that is going on around you including other hunters. When it comes down to bird hunting, you want to know you have prepared well enough to be able to make a clean shot when that bird final flushes.

Wing shooting, in general, is a use it or lose it type of hunting skill. If you are not practicing and putting in the time before the season, your success rate is greatly diminished once upland bird hunting season rolls around. Take these five upland bird shooting tips, paired with a good shotgun, when you go afield this fall

5 Upland Bird Shooting Tips 

Your shotgun is important, no doubt about it. But even the highest quality shotgun is not going to improve your upland bird hunting without these wing shooting tips.

Pattern the Shotgun 

How often have you patterned your upland game bird shotgun? Probably less than your turkey shotgun and far less often than you should. Each shotgun shoots differently, and knowing the point of impact is critical for accuracy in the field. First, you want to know if your shotgun is shooting straight. If it is off too much, a gunsmith may be required to make some adjustments. Second, you want to pattern your shotgun in order to test various shotshell loads and chokes based on your intended use. Are there enough pellets at different distances with different combinations of shells (shot size, weight, length) and choke (modified, improved, etc.)? Answer these question before you take that first shot of the season at an advancing bird.

Clay Birds Are Your Best Friend 

Patterning your shotgun is first and foremost. After you have a good handle on shot dynamics, it is time to put some boxes through your barrel. Clay birds are a great way to practice your fall upland game bird hunting. Start by shooting easy floaters out in front of you to get a feel of swinging your shotgun and following a moving target. Once you are comfortable with that, move to more realistic shooting scenarios including shooting at clay birds through the woods, low to the ground and multiple targets at the same time. Also, do not think that you need an expensive automatic thrower to take part in practicing your game bird shooting, On the contrary, a hand thrower works as well if you can grab a buddy or two to shoot with.

Hunt Ready to Shoot 

No matter if it is grouse or pheasants, each step you take while hunting, you should be prepared to shoot. Fall upland game birds can be up and gone in several seconds and if you are not prepared to shoot as you are moving then you missed your chance. Carry your shotgun in a shooting position, but one that does not make your arms tired. Also, pay attention to your footwork as you move through the brush or open field. With each step, you should keep your feet shoulder-width apart and slightly turned with the left shoulder leading the way (reversed for lefty shooters). This puts your body in a shooting position over each step, making it much faster to pull up while bird hunting.

Forget About Aiming 

Each bird flush involves a split-second reaction so trying to aim will only leave you missing the shot. More appropriately, you want to point your shotgun to the flushed bird with both eyes open. Keeping both eyes opens allows you to naturally follow the target with almost any upland bird hunting shotgun. Natural instincts (muscle memory and practice) take control at this point and allow you to land a good shot on the bird by being relaxed, responsive and repetitive. Keep your swing steady and smooth, following the target to the point where you line up and pull the trigger.

Know Your Surroundings 

Hunting fall upland game birds is a fast-paced sport, much faster than say fall turkey hunting. Birds flush out of nowhere and frequently there are multiple people involved in the hunt. As you move through the brush or fields, be aware of your surroundings. Know where your hunting partners are and if you are hunting upland game birds with a dog, where the dog is. You want to be constantly thinking about this so when that bird flushes you do not have to think but only react.

3 Must Have Shotguns for Fall Upland Game Bird Hunting

Now that you have a few upland game bird shooting tips, what is the best upland game bird shotgun to carry and use with those tips? Well first, a good bird hunting shotgun is lean, light and shoulders fast and smooth. You want a shotgun that can be lugged through miles of terrain and perform at a moment’s notice when that long awaited bird finally flushes. Additionally, you want the right gauge to match the species you are pursuing. Pheasants can be taken with .12- and .20-gauge shotguns and grouse and quail can be handled with anything from a .12-gauge to a 28-gauge shotgun.

Shotguns for Sale Worth Carrying for Wing Shooting

Benelli Super Black Eagle II

shotgunning fall upland game birds | Whittaker Guns

The Benelli Super Black Eagle II is a long and trusted friend by many who hunt fall upland game birds. This gun can be carried for hunting birds, turkeys and waterfowl with minimal effort. It is lightweight and shoots fast, important in hunting upland game birds. Although the newly released Benelli Super Vinci has some nice upgrades compared to the Super Black Eagle II, it still packs a nice bunch for all your shooting needs.

Beretta A400 Lite

shotgunning fall upland game birds | Whittaker Guns

Beretta’s A400 Lite shotgun is the ultimate carry shotgun for long days bird hunting. It packs a big punch in a light, 6.6-pound frame that is easy to point and shoot. This semi-auto shotgun has a smooth action but only chambers up to 3-inch shells. Also, this shotgun has no camo option available yet for, which is not all that big of a deal for most fall upland game bird hunters.

Remington V3

shotgunning fall upland game birds | Whittaker Guns

The new V3 model shotgun from Remington is an updated version of the VersaMax with the same Remington reliability as its other semi-auto shotguns. The versatile VersaPort system lets you move from different shell types with ease, ejecting them quickly and smoothly. The V3 has good balance and shouldering is quick and clean. An all-around shotgun for many types of bird hunting situations.

In conclusion, whether you decide to pull out your trusted shotgun or maybe look to purchase a new shotgun, fall upland game bird hunting is here. It is not enough to head out once or twice a year but if you are serious about hunting upland game birds then you need to put in the time. The right shotgun and the right preparation can go a long way in putting more birds in your vest…and ultimately making the dog happy!

The Right Shotgun for Fall Turkey Hunting

Fall Turkey Hunting Tips for a Thanksgiving Bird

When most people think about turkey hunting, they imagine scenes of springtime: bright green grasses popping up out of the ground with lime green new leaves budding out on the trees. But if turkey is primarily a bird destined for Thanksgiving table fare, doesn’t it make sense to hunt them in the autumn months when the leaves are red, yellow, and orange? If you’re looking to put some wild turkey back on the Thanksgiving menu, here are some fall turkey hunting tips for you. We’ll talk about the main differences between spring and fall turkeys, the different techniques you should use, and the best gun options. Whether you’re looking for turkey hunting tips for beginners or seasoned hunters alike, you’ll find something useful here.

Comparison of Spring and Fall Turkey Hunting 

the right shotgun for fall turkey hunting | Whittaker GunsThere are several big differences between spring and fall turkeys. Springtime is breeding season for turkeys (and many other animals), so most of their activities are focused on this behavior. Strutting and gobbling are common actions for tom turkeys as they chase hens, which can be very exciting to watch at close range. You typically use hen calls or gobbler purrs to bring a tom in for a closer investigation in the spring, since they’re competing for hens and are ready to fight about it. Decoys are typically used to simulate a breeding scenario, with a combination of a jake and a hen decoy. Once a tom sees this display, they should get mad and run in to bust up the party. During most spring hunting seasons, you can only legally harvest a tom, which leaves the hens to produce more eggs and young poults.

As far as turkey habits in the fall, toms pretty much stick to themselves or in groups of adult males (like whitetail bachelor groups). Hens hang out together with young jakes and jennies in large groups. Because of this behavior, male turkey calls are used to call other males, and hen or poult calls are used to attract other hen and poult groups. Typically, toms produce a deeper, raspier, and more drawn-out yelp than hens, as well as purrs. Decoys should correspond to the type of bird you want to attract too (male decoys for male birds, and vice versa). For many fall turkey hunting seasons, you can take a turkey of either sex, which drastically increases your chances at putting a turkey on the table.

Best Shotgun for Turkey Hunting

Everybody’s got their own personal preferences when it comes to the best guns for them. Their body size or hunting experience will dictate what gauge they are most comfortable shooting, as well as the overall size of the shotgun. If they’re mostly interested in a turkey gun, it will be a different scenario than if they want to also hunt ducks, geese, grouse, or pheasant with it. For waterfowl and fall turkey hunting, you can use a long-barreled shotgun, which will produce a more consistent and smoother aiming process. They can also be heavier guns overall since you’ll mostly be sitting with them during your hunt. On the other hand, if you’d like a general purpose shotgun that you could use for walking around all day for grouse or pheasant, you’ll want something a bit lighter and with a shorter barrel that you can maneuver through thick brush or corn stalks. Take these into consideration before you choose a new turkey gun.

the right shotgun for fall turkey hunting | Whittaker Guns

Turkeys are big and tough birds. While you could ethically use a 12, 16, or 20 gauges on turkeys, the best shotgun for turkeys is probably a 12 gauge since it can put them down fast and is so versatile. A shotgun with a receiver that can shoot at least 3-inch shells is preferable to increase the load you can fire at them. Whittaker Guns has many of the best turkey shotguns you could want. But a Remington 870 Express is always a solid choice for a variety of hunting types. The type of action you choose is really just a matter of preference, with the pump action being one of the more common choices.

Then you need to consider gun accessories, which there are plenty of. Depending on what distance you anticipate turkeys approaching from, the best choke tubes for turkey hunting will vary. If you’re naturally limited to shots within 20 yards (such as in very dense woods), a modified choke is probably fine in almost any case. But if you anticipate some 40-yard shots in open fields (and feel confident about making the shot at that distance), you’ll probably want to screw a full or turkey choke tube into the muzzle. Regardless of what you think, you should test your shotgun pattern density before you hunt. Set up a piece of cardboard with a rough turkey head outline on it. Shoot from the distance you plan to hunt at and see what the shot pattern looks like. If there are even 20 BBs in the turkey’s head or neck outline, you shouldn’t have any problem killing a bird.

Best Ammunition for Fall Turkey Hunting 

Speaking of BBs, there are a few general guidelines about the best ammunition for turkeys as well. Ammunition is probably one of the most important turkey hunting supplies we have because it makes such a difference in how lethal each shot is. Like we mentioned, a 3-inch shell is preferable to a 2 ¾-inch shell; a 3 ½-inch shell is also a good bet. The shell should contain shot in the 4 to 6 range, which are big enough to be lethal at a variety of distances. As far as the load, 1 7/8 ounce shells are more than capable of getting the job done quickly. For a good shell that matches these criteria, check out the Winchester Longbeard XR for 12 gauges.

Fall Turkey Hunting Tactics

There are a few good fall turkey tactics you can use yet this year to put a Thanksgiving bird in the oven. The first thing that really helps, though it needs some planning ahead, is to plant food plots. Deer aren’t the only animals that like to snack in these lush areas. Cut cornfields, clover, other cereal grains, and even brassica greens are all attractive to wild turkeys. During the spring and summer, they will key in on insects using these plants, but they will transition to eating the greens or grain in the fall. These areas are also usually open enough for a flock to all gather easily. Even if you just have some old hayfields, you might be surprised how many turkeys will come out of the thick forest around it to graze and gather. But they will also heavily feed on acorns in oak woodlots or small crabapples/hawthorn apples. So if you’re wondering how to hunt turkey next fall, consider planting a small 1/10 to 1/4 acre food plot near an oak forest with some crabapple trees on the fringe for the ultimate turkey spot.

Before you begin hunting, it’s time to go back to turkey hunting basics; get to know the property and your local flock of turkeys (where do they roost, where do they spend their daylight hours, how many gobblers are actually in the flock, etc.). Walking the land and finding potential roost trees or open hayfields is one way to do this. Another way to get these answers is to use trail cameras in strategic locations to monitor their movements. Keep a camera on any open areas and between them and potential roost trees. This will allow you to pattern where the birds are and decide if a certain area is worth fall turkey hunting or not.

the right shotgun for fall turkey hunting | Whittaker Guns

Once you start consistently seeing a tom turkey you’d like to hunt, it’s time to get in the field after him. You can either use a ground blind or a typical deer tree stand for fall turkey hunting. Ground blinds will allow you a little more movement since you’re fully concealed, which makes it a good option for bringing kids with. But tree stands are nice since they’re typically already up this time of year for deer hunting, and the turkeys will be used to them. Of course, they need to be located in the right spots to make this approach work. But as long as you have some good camouflage turkey hunting clothing and keep your movement to a minimum, you shouldn’t stand out much in a tree stand. While some people go fall turkey hunting without decoys, you should really use one. It helps focus the turkey’s attention on the decoy, which can give you the ability to get your gun in position for a shot. Turkeys have amazingly keen eyesight, so regardless of anything else, you need to move slowly. Again, use a male turkey decoy to attract toms, and hen decoys to attract hens. A single decoy should be plenty enough but look at your trail camera pictures to see what’s normal for your area.

After the decoy is set up and you’re concealed in a tree or on the ground, it’s time for us to discuss fall turkey calling tips. As far as how to call fall turkeys, there’s one thing you should keep in mind: keep it balanced. If you’ve rarely heard your turkey flock call to each other, don’t start squawking for 15 minutes. Make a few yelps and cuts, and then quiet down again. If you’re looking for toms, try doing some low and raspy tom yelps, three to five at a time, and then wait for 15-20 minutes before doing it again (for hens, try doing kee-kee runs). But once you get a bird to respond, start calling back immediately, trying to mimic their call exactly. You want to be aggressive with this part of the calling. Turkeys may not always see your decoy through the tall weeds or brush when they’re within cover, so call until they actually come out into the field. You’ll know when they find your decoy, as they will usually come running over to it to size up the intruder.

If you choose to go fall turkey hunting this year, keep these turkey hunting tips in mind. Whether it’s your first time hunting turkeys at all or you’re just used to spring turkey hunting, you’ll get a lot of enjoyment out of it.