Thinking Turkey Hunting

Gobblers must be related to Sasquatch

The new Winchester Super X4 Hybrid Hunter Woodland, a dedicated gobbler-slayer!

Years ago, an enterprising wildlife biologist in my home state of Washington did some very slick trading with wildlife agencies in turkey-rich states back east and down south, winding up with specimens of all three wild turkey families —Merriam, Eastern and Rio Grande — and released them into suitable habitat in the Northwest to build huntable populations.

It was a brilliant idea and has paid off for a lot of hunters. Except me. Any time of year, especially during the fall grouse hunting season, I can find flocks of longbeards, sometimes just crossing a road. Last September while trying to pot a blue grouse, I came around a curve on a gravel road and there were a dozen of the buggers, just wandering along without a care. Pretty certain they knew it was me because they gave me a long stare that translated to “Whadda you want?”

Come springtime, they are more elusive than Bigfoot, the legendary Sasquatch, for which the Evergreen State is dubiously famous. I’ve tramped the big timber, sat silently next to a stump, hidden in makeshift blinds and whispered just like they do on television even though I didn’t have a cameraman recording it all.

A few years ago, a buddy talked me into joining him on a spring turkey hunt. For folks in the south and east, that’s an opportunity just over the horizon. We fire things up a bit later out in the Northwest settlements because of the prevailing weather.

I grabbed my Mossberg 935 self-loader, which wears a camo finish, and off we went into the hinterlands with camo clothing, calls and enough shells to invade Normandy. We saw deer. We saw a few elk. We saw grouse. But turkeys? Apparently they knew we were coming and took a trip to Disney World. Didn’t see a thing, even though the previous autumn we’d encountered them by the bushel in the same area.

Wild turkey is good eating. But you’ve got to find them first, and then get one close enough to blast with a load of No. 4 or 6 shot. And you need a good shotgun. My Mossberg with the camo finish fills that requirement, with its 3-½” chamber and the proper chokes.

Maybe I need to approach this game like some of the more fanatical turkey hunters I’ve met. Something new comes along, there are always a few people ready to give it a try.

Winchester Ammunition’s Double-X turkey loads are now available in .410 bore.

The Gear

A few weeks ago, an email announcement from Winchester landed in my inbox, touting the newly-introduced Super X4 Hybrid Hunter Woodland shotgun. It’s a handsome shotgun available in either 12-gauge 3- and 3 ½” or 20-gauge, 3”. It’s a gas operated smoothbore featuring Winchester’s Active Valve Gas System.

The Super X4 has a simple camo pattern on the stock and forearm, while the receiver and barrel wear a Flat Dark Earth Cerakote finish. Cerakote is tough stuff and it will stand up to a nasty environment. Inside, you’ll find a Nickel Teflon coating on the carrier and bolt release button.

The chamber and bore are chrome-plated and the 26” vent rib barrel comes with a trio of Invector-Plus choke tubes in Full, Modified and Improved Cylinder. It wears a TRUGLO fiber optic front sight. Weighing 7 pounds unloaded, the Super X4 has a 14-¼” length of pull, and a 2” drop at heel.

Weight is saved by making the receiver out of aluminum alloy and the stock is a synthetic composite with a New Inflex Technology recoil pad.

The 3” .410 turkey load features copper-plated No. 7½ Diamond Grade lead shot for high pattern density.

The tubular magazine holds four 2-¾” shells. You’re not likely to get more than one good shot at a turkey, but as a late hunting guide pal of mine repeatedly insisted, “When there’s lead in the air, there’s hope!”
This brings me around to Winchester Ammunition’s Double X turkey loads, because there’s a new one available for people who evidently really want a challenge. The newest entry is a .410 bore load, developed for perhaps younger turkey hunters.

The .410 load is a 3-incher featuring copper-plated No. 7½ Diamond Grade lead shot for high pattern density. This round can reportedly put 20 percent more pellets into a 20-inch circle at 30 yards and that’s nothing to dismiss when using a smallbore shotgun for any live game.

Since I happen to own a little .410 side-by-side double that can hide inside a camo sleeve, I may just head for the turkey woods with the little guy in tow and a pocket filled with Double X shotshells.

Already in the Double X lineup one will find loads in 12- and 20-gauge, and they’ve proven themselves in the field to put the hurt on gobblers, which reminds me, I’ve got to get a couple of boxes between now and early April to see how they pattern in my gun.

In past years, my spring turkey hunting endeavors have traditionally been trashed by the timing of the National Rifle Association convention but this year thanks to the continuing COVID-19 threat, I’ll probably be out there hunkered in the brush with a slate or mouth call. If experience tells me anything, the birds will remain out of sight, laughing their beaks off at the nimrod with the shotgun.

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