John's Journal...

Battling the Slave Ditch Gobbler with CentralAlabama’s Joe Champion

Click to enlargeHow to Make Your Scope and Gun More Effective for Taking Turkeys and Watch a Turkey Hunting Video

Editor’s Note: To effectively take the Slave Ditch Gobbler, my scope and gun had to be ready to take the shot. Today, I’ll show you how to make your scope and gun more effective and ready for the shot at a turkey.

Reasons for Putting a Scope on Your Turkey Gun:
1) The turkey’s head will appear to be brighter when looking through the scope in low-light conditions in the early morning and the late afternoon.
2) The target (the turkey’s head and neck) will appear larger when using a 1.5-4.5x20 scope.
3) You can adjust the reticles on the scope to put the most-dense part of the pattern in the center of the crosshairs, which will give you far-greater shot coverage than shooting with a bead on the end of your barrel will.
4)Click to enlarge The scope on a shotgun allows you to sight through the scope in the same way you sight with your rifle when hunting deer, which means there’s less margin for error, since you don’t have to change your sighting system when you stop hunting with a rifle for deer and start hunting with a shotgun for turkeys.

How to Scope a Shotgun:
Because I believed a scope could remedy many of the problems I’d discovered that caused me to miss turkeys, some years ago I had to decide how to mount the scope on my shotgun and which type of scope would be best for turkey hunting. However, the idea of drilling and tapping my shotgun for a scope made me queasy. If using a scope for turkeys proved to be a bad idea, I didn’t want to have those ugly holes in my receiver. I searchedfor an alternative. I found a unique mount, the B-Square produced by the B-Square Company. Not only did this mount require no gunsmithing to attach to the shotgun’s receiver, but it also was idiot-proof. All I had to do was remove the pins from the receiver and replace them with the pins for the mount. This mount could be put on and taken off without changing or damaging the receiver in any way. If a scope for a turkey gun proved not to be a good idea, I could remove the mount. Thenno one ever would know I’d tried this idea. I used Weaver rings and chose a Nikon 1.5-4.5x20 variable scope, which was very bright and clear and had a 67.8-foot field of view. I wanted low power, because most turkeys I planned to shoot would be at 30 yards or less. I knew a quality scope like the Nikon 1.5-4.5x20 with its large exit pupil and maximum light transmission would cause objects to be more bright and more clear than they appeared to the naked eye in low-light situations. The entire system looked impressive. But until I began to fire the gun, I didn’t learn the true value of this system for hunting turkeys.

How to Pattern with a Scope:
When I took my scoped shotgun to a shooting range, I shot at a turkey’s head target. Although the gun and the shells performed admirably, and the pattern that both produced would have downed a bird, the largest part of the shot pattern was below and slightly to the right of theClick to enlarge
wattles on the turkey head target. I fired a second shot just to be sure that the pattern was consistent, and it was. By using the windage (left to right) and the elevation (up and down) adjustments on the scope, I was able to move the cross-shaped reticle. Then the next time I shot and aimed straight at the wattles, the shot was delivered in exactly the right spot with the most-dense pattern on the turkey’s neck and head, the area I wanted to cover. Now I wouldn’t have to compensate when I aimed to get the best pattern on the turkey’s head. I also noticed when I brought the shotgun to my shoulder that the eyepiece of the scope was at precisely the correct place for my eye without my having to lower my cheek on the stock, because the B-Square mount was higher than the bead on my shotgun. Then when your scoped shotgun came to your shoulder, you didn’t have to remember to get your cheek down on the stock to aim properly or depend on your reflexes. The scope would be at the best spot for you to see and shoot without lowering your head. This advantage would be especially helpful if you had to take a quick shot at a turkey’s head and forgot to put your cheek on the stock. The size of the target also was enlarged because of the magnification of the scope. Since the target appeared larger, you could aim much-more accurately. Even if you moved slightly, you still could keep the crosshairs in the center of the target. However, one disadvantage that could be associated with enlarging the target was that inexperienced hunters might think a gobbler was closer than he actually was.

When I kept the scope on 1.5X, I was able to see the end of my gun barrel. I quickly noticed I had a tendency to cant the gun to the left. This problem was one I never realized I had before I put the scope on the shotgun. I was able to discover this flaw in my shooting, because when I held the gun straight, the vertical portion of the reticle would be off to the right of the bead of my shotgun, as I looked through the scope. When I straightened the gun so the vertical line of the reticle crossed-through the middle of the bead on my shotgun, I shot more accurately and eliminated my canting problem. From this experience, I learned that when I saw a turkey’s head in my scope, besides looking at the reticle, I had to check how straight I was holding the gun by observing where the vertical line of the reticle intersected the bead on the end of my barrel.Click to enlarge

Learn more about hunting legendary gobblers from John E. Phillips’ library of turkey-hunting books, including “The Turkey Hunter’s Bible,” “Turkey Tactics,” “Outdoor Life’s Complete Turkey Hunting,” “The Masters’ Secrets of Turkey Hunting” and “Hunter’s Specialties’ PhD Gobblers.” To learn more about these hunting books and others, visit, or call 205-967-3830.

To learn to call turkeys, you not only have to know what you need to do to call in the bird, but you need to know how the turkey responds to your calling. Since the turkey is in one place, and you’re always in a different place, many times you can’t see the turkey to watch the effects of your turkey calls. To solve this problem, we asked Bill Zearing, founder and president of Cody Game Calls, to be the caller, and we’ve asked Preston Pittman, who has won all 5 divisions of the World Turkey Calling Championship, to be the turkey. Each day, we’ll pose a different hunting scenario and ask these two legendary turkey callers/hunters to show us the types of calls you need to use and learn the different effects they have on turkeys.

Watch Video: “The Final Call and Shooting the Gobbler”

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Check back each day this week for more about "Battling the Slave Ditch Gobbler with Central Alabama’s Joe Champion"

Day 1: Begin the Turkey Hunt for the Slave Ditch Gobbler, and Watch a Turkey Hunting Video
Day 2: Get Ready For a Turkey War with the Slave Ditch Gobbler
Day 3: How I Hunted the Slave Ditch Gobbler, and You Can Watch a Turkey Hunting Video
Day 4: Learn About Tough Hunting for the Slave Ditch Gobbler, and Watch a Turkey Hunting Video
Day 5: How to Make Your Scope and Gun More Effective for Taking Turkeys and Watch a Turkey Hunting Video


Entry 558, Day 5