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Your Pheasant Loads Can Double for Turkeys

A tom turkey in full strut. Pheasants Forever File Photo

I hunt turkeys each spring as my annual reminder of why I love hunting pheasants so much more – pheasants never frustrate me, turkeys always do. But I like to stay in hunting mode, and this May I’m also introducing a newbie to hunting’s ranks.

I’d describe myself as a casual turkey hunter – one hunt per year – which means I like it enough to go but not enough to make significant gear investments. I don’t have a specialized turkey gun, and this year will be borrowing a blind, calls and decoys for my May hunt.

One other area I’m looking to pinch pennies for this year’s turkey hunt is on ammunition. I’ve got a few boxes of Federal Premium Wing-Shok Pheasants Forever High Velocity loads in 12-gauge 5 and 6 shot left over from the past few pheasant hunting seasons. Before I spring for shells that picture a big tom on the box, I’m going to put a full choke in my gun and pattern these loads. With 1 ¼ ounce shot weight, if they pattern well enough, my wallet won’t take a hit but the strutter will.

Do your pheasant loads double for spring turkeys?

Anthony’s Antics Afield is written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@pheasantsforever.org and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.

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5 Responses to “Your Pheasant Loads Can Double for Turkeys”

  1. Terry J. says:

    Pheasant loads with a full choke will not have the range or energy of the modern turkey loads, so I hope you are going to hold off until you have a close shot.

  2. Terry – you’re absolutely right that you need to pattern shells and determine effective kill ranges. Since I’m taking out a first-time hunter, I’m looking at extremely close range shots. Though the shells I reference are rated for turkey use (among other game birds), there’s a chance they won’t pattern well for me. The point is you need to pattern ahead of time to determine what the capabilities are for you, your gun and your ammo, whether pheasants to turkeys, and make adjustments if need be. – Anthony Hauck, Online Editor, Pheasants Forever

  3. gary hauck says:

    I bought a box of shells with a big Turkey on the box. I had alot of fun but did not fire a shot. Your welcome to them. I would hate for Kailey to miss out on a big tom because her friend/guide did not supply her with the right ammo.

  4. Rich Wissink says:

    This spring I had that exact thought and patterned some of the extra Federal Prairie Storm shells I had left from chasing roosters. They patterned very well out to 40 yards. Even premium pheasant loads are less expensive than the high priced “turkey loads”. As mentioned by others, it is our responisbility as hunting conservationists to know how our firearms will perform with different loads.

  5. Stubby says:

    I shoot a Benelli SBE II and a Franchi Affinity and I have tested almost every turkey load available. In those 2 weapons with the chokes I use, the best patterns came from Hevi-13 #6 in both 3″ and 3.5″, and Hevi-shot Magnum Blend of #5,#6,#7, 3″ and 3.5″, but the best pellet to target percentage came from Winchester Long Beard XR 3″ #5 as I put(40%) pellet count in a 10″ target at 40 yards. I don’t have the #6 shot I ordered yet, but I suspect they will be just as good if not better. Winchester Long Beard XR is a lead shot and is significantly cheaper than the alternative non toxic shots. The best bang for buck came from Remington’s 3″ Nitro turkey in #5. I didn’t have any #6 to try, but I think it would yield similar results. Remington offered a $3 rebate per box of 10 on top of an already decent price. They didn’t pattern as well, but would have easily killed turkeys at 40 Yards and at a cost where I wouldn’t have to work overtime to pay for it. I have read articles where pheasant hunters use them because of the knock down power and decent prices. However, my young feller isn’t comfortable taking shots at turkeys at 40 and 50 yards and the higher priced turkey loads seem to all have really tight patterns at close ranges. I bought a box of Fiocchi Golden Pheasant 1 3/4oz #5′s just to try and I was impressed with the patterns at 30 yards as I hit a 10″ target with 80 pellets. I didn’t have any ballistic gel, but I’m confident it would have enough energy to humanely kill a turkey at that distance. At 40 yards, I hit a 10″ target with 53 pellets which is about half of what I like to see for a turkey pattern at that distance, but my son most likely won’t be taking that shot anyway. I would like some info on other good quality pheasant loads that can be used for closer range Toms of say 30 yards or less. Thank you all very much.


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