Hunting can be a dangerous sport, because guns and bows are involved. Although hunting accidents are rare, they can and do happen. You don’t want to become a statistic. If you are a novice don’t be afraid of taking a hunter’s safety, and a shooting class. When you pick up a firearm you become part of a system that you are in complete control of. You are the only one that can make your gun safe or unsafe.
Here are the ten basic rules of gun safety;
- Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Never point a gun at anything that you don’t want to shoot.
- Firearms should be unloaded when not in use. Never bring a loaded gun into your house.
- Don’t rely on your gun’s safety. Safeties are mechanical devices, and mechanical devices fail.
- Use the correct ammo.
- If you gun misfires, handle it with care.
- Always wear ear and eye protection when shooting.
- Be sure your barrel is clear of obstructions before you shoot.
- Have your gun serviced regularly.
- Learn the mechanics of the firearm that you are using.
- Make sure of your target, and what’s behind it before you shoot. Never shoot over a hill.
I personally believe that you owe it to the animal that you hunting to be a good shot. Many hunters take out their rifles once a year, and then wonder why they missed or even worse wounded an animal. I try to shoot 1000 arrows and 100 rifle shells over the summer. So go to the range, and throw some lead!
1. Does size matter? When choosing a shotgun for turkey hunting, choose a gun that’s comfortable to shoot and one that you have confidence in. Shooting magnum turkey load can lead to a bad case of “the flinches.” More than one long-beard has lived to gobble another day because of “the flinches.”
2. Chokes and such A key element to a good turkey gun is a good turkey choke. A turkey choke has more constriction than a Full choke, and are often labeled Extra Full or XX Full. Tighter chokes are designed for smaller pellets such as No. 6 or No. 5 shot. The more open constrictions are better suited for larger pellets such as No. 4s. Can you have too much constriction? Yes, you can. Depending on your gun and the ammunition you’ve selected, you can over-constrict the shot to the point where the pattern diminishes. It is possible for the pellets to bounce off each other or become deformed, leaving large holes in your pattern. The solution for this is to go to a more open constriction or to a smaller shot size.
3. Ammunition The ammunition you choose can drastically affect your pattern. Each gun-choke combination will shoot a specific round better than the others. The only way to determine which it likes, is to shoot a variety of ammunition. Vary your shot sizes and brands from several distances and stick with the one that gives you the most consistent pattern.
4. What’s in a pattern? The ideal pattern for turkey hunting is 100 pellets in a 10-inch circle at 40 yards. This density means that there should be plenty of pellets in the small vital area of the turkey’s head and neck to kill it ethically. If you prefer No. 6 turkey loads (approx. 222 pellets/oz.), then a two-ounce load of No. 6s should pattern about 25 percent of its shot in the 10-inch circle. Two ounces of No. 5s (approx. 171 pellets/oz.) should give you a pattern of about 30 percent. Two ounces of No. 4s (approx. 135 pellets/oz.) should result in a 37 percent pattern. These numbers are based on lead pellets, so heavier-than-lead alloy pellets will have fewer pellets per ounce and the percentage will differ slightly.
5. What’s so magical about 40 yards? Turkey guns are often patterned at 40 yards because that is the maximum distance promoted by the Turkey Hunting Safety Task Force as the proper range to ethically and cleanly kill a turkey with a shotgun. However, knowing how your shotgun patterns at distances less than 40 yards is also very important.
6. Dial it in Initial pattern tests should be on a 30-inch target. Sheets of butcher paper or craft paper work great. Draw a small two-inch circle in the middle and color it in with a marker, then draw a 10-inch circle centered on that. Pace off 40 yards or use a laser range finder to mark your distance. Use a shooting brace/bench to reduce human error and shoot a single round at each target. Shoot a few different types of ammo through different choke tubes, record the information and then compare the results. Pick the round that gives you the densest pattern. Using the NWTF’s patterning targets http://turkey-shoppe.nwtf.org/product251.html— the official target of the Outdoor Connection Inc., World Wild Turkey Still Target Championships — also allows you to make sure your pattern is perfect by practicing on realistic turkey targets.
7. Be ready to shoot After a few trips to the range, you’ll have the confidence to kill your bird.
Montana application deadlines for Bighorn sheep, Moose, Mountain Goat and Buffalo are May 1st, and Antelope, Deer B and Elk B tags are June 1st. The Super tag lotto drawing tickets are available until July 1, 2015.
The most popular area for Bighorn Sheep is area 680, which is the Chouteau, Blaine & Phillips area northwest of the Missouri River Breaks. Last year there was 8322 applications with 25 permits given out, giving you a 0.30 % chance of drawing. Areas 300, 303, 500, 501 and 502 are guaranteed draws. The most popular Moose is area 102, which is Eureka in the northwest corner of the state. Last year there were 1790 applications with 8 permits given out, this gives you a 0.45% chance of drawing. Your best chance of drawing a tag is area 301 Horse Prairie in the southwest corner of the state with a 6.72% chance of drawing. The most popular Mountain Goat area is 313 which is the Crazy Mountains north of Big Timber. Last year there were 2764 applications, with 84 permits given, this gives you a 3.04% chance of drawing. The best chance to draw is area 330 the North Absaroka Mountains south of Livingston with a 6.25% chance of success. The most popular Antelope area is 700 which the Missouri River Breaks area. Last year there were 7078 applications, with 3000 permits given, this gives you a 42.38% chance of drawing. Last year areas 339, 500 & 900 (archery only) had a 100% successful draw rate.
Like the lottery you have to be in it to win it, so good luck!