Technological innovation is always interesting. From such innovative thinking we've had new and better products developed in the shooting sports. The development of tungsten-based shot is a prime example. Another example is the development and refinement of turkey chokes. Both of these developments have enabled us as turkey hunters to get better patterns from our shotguns. Those good patterns and time spent at the range which lets us find out the capabilities of both our gun/choke/shotshell combo and our own shooting ability, have allowed us to cleanly kill a wild turkey at all reasonable ranges.
For 40 years organizations like the NWTF, wildlife professionals and responsible hunters have urged and educated us about good sportsmanship and ethical hunting practices. Some of you will remember when there were very few wild turkeys in many of our states. We've seen an almost unprecedented increase in those numbers for the last couple of decades, to the point that many turkey hunters today assume that it's always been that way. In the last 10 years however, there have been some dramatic decreases in the numbers of wild turkeys in many states that has by and large gone unnoticed by the general hunting populations. Conserving the resource that we all love is as important today as it's ever been.
It will be very important for us as experienced hunters to set the example for others.
For many years, mainly since the development of tungsten-based shot like Hevi-Shot, we, at least many of us, have considered 40 yards as the maximum ethical range for shooting turkeys. It's not just that patterns begin to deteriorate beyond that point, which they most certainly do but the fact that the vital head/neck area of a turkey is a very small target, even at 40 yards and for many hunters, perhaps most hunters, holding on a target that size at beyond 40 yards if very difficult if not impossible.
The likelihood of putting pellets into the body of a turkey greatly increases at ranges beyond 40 yards. When a clean and humane kill is the objective, the last thing we want to happen is to put pellets into the body of a turkey that may cause an infection or slow death days or weeks later.
I like the innovation of the new Winchester shells but have great concern about the marketing of 50 yard, 60 yard or even longer shots. The pellets are lead and still have "X" amount of retained energy at a given yardage.
I have shot them.
"If he's out of range, it just means that he has another day and so do you."