I was on a deer hunt earlier this year in Texas, the first season in which game animals could be taken with an airgun. Eventually I ended up taking a buck and a couple does, but one day earlier on I’d passed on a couple small deer when a flock of Rio Grande turkeys walked in. I wanted a Rio Grande with an air rifle, and thought I’d take the opportunity being presented.

I was hunting with the AirForce .357 and took the shot at about 35 yards using an archery-oriented shot placement up front and low. The turkey shot up in the air and came down about 30 yards away, piling up where he landed and not moving a twitch after. A couple things to comment on, the shot placement and the gun I used.

There were a lot of birds, and I decided to capitalize on the opportunity

As far as the shot placement, I’ve taken a lot of turkey with an airgun now, with about half taken with head or neck shots and about half with a body shot. Initially, I only used headshots, and when the bird is close and locked in on a decoy this is a good option. What I found worked better was placing my pellet at the base of the neck, especially when the bird was facing away. A friend down in Virginia, that’s taken more turkey with an airgun than anyone I know, told me he started using body shots with good results. His provision being that this placement worked better using a .25 caliber pellet in a 50 fpe rifle.

I tried this placement and had really good results, some time the bird would run or go airborne for a few seconds, but then pile up. The kill zone for head, neck, and body are about the same size, however the head almost never stops moving, the neck moves less, and the body is the most stationary. That’s why I’ll take a head/neck shot close, but when I’m on the 35 -50-yard shots my preference is the body shot. The further away you are from the turkey, the longer it takes for the pellet to arrive (even fractions of seconds matter), and the greater the chance the bird moves between trigger pull and impact.

When I hit the bird he shot straight up in the air and dropped at an angle landing 30 yards away, and was dead when he hit.

As for the gun used, a 220 fpe .357 is more gun than is required, however I’ve read there are more turkeys taken in fall with a deer rifle than with a shotgun, because they opportunistic shots such as the one I took. I don’t see the logic or intelligence in the” too much gun” argument anyways, unless there is a specific reason i.e. needing to limit carry or over penetration.

Ironically I discovered afterwards on a closer reading of the Texas regulations just passed for the 2019 season, all game animals except squirrels, can only be taken with a .30 caliber gun generating 215 fpe. For the most part I think the Texas regs are very well thought out and written, but hopefull the .30/215fpe will be modified for turkey and javalina in future.

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