Given the Covid-19 situation, I know one thing for sure. It seems like there are triple the number of hunters out and about in the turkey woods this spring!
Is that a good thing? Ultimately, yes. Can it be a bit frustrating at times? Also, yes, especially for hunters that lack private land hunting access and must resort to state land.
This is also a time to display the utmost amount of respect for one another. Let’s face it, everyone is keying in on one particular sound. That thundering gobble, which in his efforts to attract some female company, that old tom is also attracting more hunters than he can bargain for.
Please respect one another and the space it takes to turkey hunt. If you have an area set in mind to hunt and you discover another vehicle their prior to your arrival, please respect that hunter’s space and move on to a different location. Also, if you happen to come across the sounds of another hunter working a bird, be respectful and just back out.
More than 36,000 new hunters have registered for the online hunter safety course since it went live on April 15. Many people are furloughed or even working from home due to the restrictions set in place, so without work as a first priority this season, an extra large number of people are heading afield. Given all the extra time to hunt, I would expect a much higher than normal turkey harvest number this spring season as well. Obviously, only time will tell.
According to a recent, yet unofficial poll, across one of the major hunting pages, it seems as though turkey population numbers are pretty much as per usual. Albeit locally, from my personal experience, I feel the numbers are down a bit. Regardless of a little extra competition in the woods or not, increasing numbers of hunters is exactly what is needed for this long time tradition to continue on.
HIGH-DENSITY TURKEY LOADS
Three words: Tungsten Super Shot. Better known as TSS. Multiple custom shotshell loading companies such as Apex Ammunition and Nitro Company offer TSS loads, along with more recently added big names like Federal.
So why should you be shooting TSS? Density. Simply put, density means so incredibly much when it comes to shotshell ammunition. Think way back to when lead was outlawed on the Federal level for hunting waterfowl and other migratory game birds. The only non-toxic option at the time was steel. Hunters instantly realized they’re range was significantly diminished, more birds were wounded, shot size had to be increased (which meant fewer pellets in any given load) and just the overall experience of hunting with steel shot just wasn’t what it used to be hunting with tried and true lead shot.
Why was this the case? Density.
Lead shot comes in at a value around 11.1 grams per cubic centimeter. Steel shot ranks in at 7.8 g/cc. Only a difference of 3.3 g/cc, but yikes, did that make such a huge difference in performance! Bismuth at 9.6 g/cc was better than steel, but still wasn’t what the old lead shells brought to the table.
Then along came Hevi-shot. At 12 g/cc, Hevi-shot made its debut and was immediately loved, with its better-than-lead downrange performance. Hunters had their range, knockdown power, and overall lethality back and better than ever; all with only a 1 g/cc difference over lead.
The point I am trying to convey is that minor changes in density of any given projectile (in this case the shot), in motion play such a vital role in overall performance of a given load. This is why Tungsten Super Shot is literally in a class completely by itself. At 18 to 18.5 g/cc it is super dense. Everyone knows how much better lead shot is over steel shot. Remember the numbers previously stated, a negative 3.3 difference. Hevi-shot was quite a bit better with a positive 1 difference. TSS has a whopping positive 7+ difference!
Let’s make a simple comparison to play this scenario out to get a grasp on TSS. Take a whiffle ball and a golf ball. Believe it or not, both weigh about the same. However, weight means nothing when talking density. Take each and throw them as hard as you possibly can. Obviously, the golf ball is going to travel much further with the exact same amount of energy (your arm) is putting behind it. Also, if a buddy was throwing them at you and you had to pick being hit by one or the other I guarantee you pick the whiffle ball. This is laments terms of how and why TSS is amazing.
The extremely high density of TSS allows it to retain the same amount of energy as much larger pellets, but at the same time, the wind resistance upon a much smaller pellet is significantly reduced, resulting in retaining velocity way better and, in turn, much less gravitational effect, as well.
A No. 9 TSS pellet hits home with the comparable energy to a No. 4 lead pellet. Take your average 2-ounce turkey load. There are approximately 270 No. 4 lead pellets in this load. A similar 2 ounce load of No. 9 TSS has approximately 724 pellets. Now remember each of these pellets is carrying the same amount of downrange energy as the No. 4 lead, but there is almost three times the amount of pellets contained within the given load literally triple the “killing power” so to speak of the given shot.
Also, since they are so much smaller, the penetration is significantly increased with extremely minimal “feather pull,” as well. This is an absolute no-brainer on which shotshell to use. TSS is perfectly round and will not deform and get flat spots as it goes through tight turkey choke tubes which result in flyers further limiting the on target pellets in a lead load, and smaller size shot in general just squeezes through chokes better to start with. Not to mention it is also environmentally friendly.
Another notable addition to mention when patterning turkey guns, where the goal is to concentrate a volume of shot in a rather small area. Where as a turkey gun is actually aimed and fired more so like a rifle than a typical swing through point associated with small game and wingshooting. You want the densest center part of the pattern exactly where you aim it. The long and short of this story is that I could not believe the difference in clean bore shots versus a dirty bore.
The central point of impact really didn’t change. What did change, however, was pattern density. The difference was actually quite shocking!
I have always been one to clean rifle bores very consistently throughout my lifetime of hunting. Not so much the case with shotguns. I was under the impression it really would not make much difference. Well, I was very wrong.
It was such an eye-opening experience that I will probably never shoot at another long beard with a soiled bore ever again. I believe a clean bore vs. dirty bore would extend the average range of any given shotgun by 10 yards at minimum. Taking the process even a step further (which very well may be overkill), I polished the inner bores with Flitz metal polish until they were beyond a mirror finish and the patterns became even better.
Now I do not expect everyone or even anyone to be polishing their bores, but it is certainly some food for thought to get the most out of your trusty scattergun.