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First black powder gobbler

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May 31, 2022
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I’ve killed a lot of turkeys in the last 40 years, but I had never taken one with a muzzleloader until this morning.

I’ve been patterning my 12 gauge T/C New Englander in preparation for this spring’s Michigan turkey season. It’s a fixed improved cylinder model and I did a lot of load testing before I settled on a Skychief load using 80 grains of 2F black powder and 90 grains of #6 shot. It gives me a killing pattern out to about 27 yards.

I set up on a fence row on the edge between a field of corn stubble and a hayfield where I’d seen birds strutting in recent days. They generally roost in a woodlot 200 yards east, fly down into the corn stubble, and make their way to the hayfield for an hour or so before ducking back into heavy cover. I set my decoys close—about 15 yards—and told myself I wouldn’t pull the trigger until a bird was right in among them. I use a hen and jake decoy setup this time of year, and I’ve had good luck with it in the last few seasons.

About 6:15 the first gobbler sounded off in the hardwoods, followed about 15 minutes later by a couple of fly-down cackles from the accompanying hens. The birds were on the ground, and it sounded like there were a lot of them. There’s a good sized hill between the spot where the birds flew down and where I sat, but I felt pretty sure they were headed my way. After about 15 minutes I could see the fans of three big gobblers as they crested the hill 100 yards out. There were soon a total of 16 birds in the stubble: three adult toms, a couple jakes, and 11 hens.

I gave a few soft yelps on my box call, and a few of the hens made their way towards my decoys, but the gobblers were on a course that looked like they would pass to the north of me, well out of range. But another series of yelps caught one of the big gobbler’s attention, and he finally noticed my Jake decoy. He squared up his shoulders and trotted towards the decoy. “It’s gonna’ happen,” I thought, and I eased back the hammer and slowly raised the gun. The tom closed the distance fast, and pulled up close to the plastic jake, spitting and drumming, I put the bead on the junction of his head and neck and pulled the trigger, dropping him cleanly.

The other birds stood by and watched him flap his final wingbeats before moving off into the hayfield, fairly oblivious to what had just happened. I watched them for another few minutes before going out into the corn stubble to collect my bird, a nice two year old with a 9” beard. It was only 7:30.

Many thanks to you all for the information you’ve provided on this site concerning black powder shotguns. And thanks especially to Skychief for somehow figuring out that a little olive oil is the key to success.

Nice job congrats. I'm hoping to do just as you did. Our season opens next Saturday. I've had the hammer back on a few with my flintlock smoothbore, but so far have not gotten one.

Is that a TC New Englander? Ive always liked them.
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Opening morning, April 22nd. Just last year I bought a 30 acre parcel in Newaygo Co MI and I've been working on establishing trails and learning the area. I decided this year I'd use my late father's Pedersoli 10ga SxS for turkey season. I load with 100gr of Goex FFg, 4 thin card wads, a homemade paper shot cup split into 4 petals, 2 ounces of nickel #5, and two more over shot cards. This particular shotgun uses choke tubes and I recently got a hold of two Extra Full chokes for it. It throws incredibly tight patterns for a muzzleloader. My turkey was 20yds when I shot him. He hadn't a last thought. Just as it should be!
What a great story! So happy you could add another check to your list!! Keep up the good work!!