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Which Shotgun Choke is Best for Hunting a Large, Slow Bird? (2024)

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Looking to provide your own turkey for thanksgiving dinner this year? Look no further!

In this article, I discussed the best choke for hunting small, fast birdies. But what about the big guys? Which shotgun choke is best for hunting a large, slow bird instead?

The choke constriction at the end of the shotgun barrel is what determines the spread of shot pellets, which allows you to effectively target your prey. In this post, we’ll briefly discuss, learn and explore the various shotgun choke options available and help you make an informed decision on the best choke for turkey hunting.

This post is not sponsored or affiliated with anyone, we just want to make sure you know your stuff before buying!

Which Shotgun Choke is Best for Hunting A Large, Slow Bird?

Understanding Choke Constrictions

Real quick before we dig in deep on the specifics, let’s make sure that we understand how choke constrictions work, and what their effects on shot patterns are.

Shotgun chokes are designed to tighten the shot spread, providing increased pellet density at longer distances.

When you look for chokes, you’ll notice that they are all labeled based on the degree of construction on the choke. The labels are as follows:

(C) = Cylinder

(IC) = Improved cylinder

(M) = Modified

(IM) = Improved modified

(F) = Full

(XF) = Extra Full

(SF) = Super Full

When looking at bigger birds, you want to stick to either modified or improved cylinder chokes.

… or, as you’ll learn in a second, extra and super full one for long-range turkeys.

Best Choke for Hunting Large, Slow Birds

When it comes to turkey hunting, the ideal shotgun choke strikes a balance between spreading the shot enough to cover a turkey’s vital area and maintaining enough density for an effective kill.

Here are the three chokes that we recommend for hunting large, slow birds:

#1 Improved Cylinder (IC)

I vastly prefer the improved cylinder choke when turkey hunting, especially if I’m using smaller shot sizes like #6 or #7.

The IC choke provides a slightly tighter constriction compared to the cylinder which increases the accuracy at moderate ranges. I feel like it really gives that smooth balance between shot spread and pellet density — and since I tend to be about 30-40 yards from the gobblers this is the perfect middle ground.

#2 Modified (M)

If you’d like to have some increased range, I recommend going for the Modified choke. It has more pellet density which helps out with range. With this one, I’d go with larger shot sizes like #4 or #5.

It’s not personally the way I hunt my turkeys, but if you’re planning on being 40-50+ yard from the target, this is the way to go. The modified choke has all the power you need but still has the right pattern density for harvesting turkeys.

#3 Turkey-Specific Chokes:

I don’t have personal experience with this one, but have heard great things so I’m including it anyways.

It is 2023, so manufacturers now offer specialized turkey chokes designed explicitly for hunting these fatty birds. The chokes have unique features such as extended tubes and ported designs that help with performance.

These chokes tend to have much tighter constructions, such as extra full (XF) or super full (SF) chokes. The patterns are incredibly dense at extended ranges, so if you’re really far away from the turkey for whatever reason (think 50+ yards), you should be able to confidently take the shot.

Remember that regardless of which choke you go with it’s essential to pattern your shotgun with different loads and chokes to determine the best combination for your specific firearm!

Shotgun with cartridges on a wooden background

Some Extra Factors to Consider

While selecting the appropriate shotgun choke is crucial, please don’t forget that it’s only a tiny part of what makes your set-up right for turkey hunting. I’ll come clean and say that I switch my choke around a lot depending on other factors as well, such as:

Ammunition Selection

Ammunition selection is equally as important as selecting the choke itself. Experiment with different loads and weights to determine the most effective one for your specific shotgun and choke.

Hunting Conditions

Consider the terrain, weather conditions, and hunting setup. Factors like dense vegetation or close-quarter hunting may require a wider choke, while more open environments could benefit from a tighter choke.

Again, I’m always in the 35-45 yard range, so keep that in mind when analyzing recommendations both from me and other hunters.

Personal Preference

Each hunter may have a different shooting style and comfort level. Experiment with various chokes to find the one that aligns with your shooting technique and provides optimal results!

Close-up of hunter man charges the cartridge on rifle gun in forest.

So Which Shotgun Choke is Best for Hunting A Large, Slow Bird?

I wish the answer was easy as just naming the exact choke and linking you to the closest place to buy it, but in the end, it always comes down to educated preferences.

When turkey hunting, choosing the right shotgun choke is crucial, and mostly just comes down to striking the balance between shot spread and pellet density (duh).

For me, I think that if you’re staying close you go with Improved Cylinder. If you want to go a little further, go with a Modified. And if you want to do some long-range turkey hunting, try a turkey-specific choke.

Most importantly, experiment as much as you can. No hunter is the same, and whatever your gut tells you can often be the differentiator between the wrong and right choke.

And also remember to consider ammunition selection, hunting conditions, and personal preference to maximize your chances of success!

Happy Hunting!

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