Supply chain shortages aside, we live in the golden age of turkey hunting ammunition. The integration of Tungsten Super Shot (TSS) into the longbeard load line has greatly revolutionized the sport since those early days of finicky paper projectiles and fixed chokes.
By comparison, tungsten’s incredible payload makes copper-clad lead look like cheap steel, and its patterns are as dense and purposeful as a swarm of angry wasps. Let’s also not overlook its benefit as a high-impact, non-toxic alternative that keeps lead out of the landscape. If you can’t tell, I’ve been a defender since I first put a TSS load in my old 12-gauge, and I don’t plan on going back.
The mind-blowing ballistics of this tungsten alloy have revealed opportunities with smaller caliber shotguns and extended lower-range killing power far beyond what we former lead lovers have grown accustomed to. To me, it’s this last point that strikes a nerve like two hot ounces of #9, and I think turkey hunters need to check when touting the benefits of this hot item. Just because tungsten charges let you kill a turkey at 80 yards doesn’t mean you should.
First, a warning: I have the mindset that hunters should support each other in the legal and ethical pursuit of hunting, especially when the anti-hunting community enjoys our infighting. Don’t misunderstand my complaint as a desire to limit the opportunities to put white meat on your table. Instead, think of it like venting a favorite hobby.
While not widespread, I have noticed a worrying trend of superiority in the turkey hunting community involving the lethal range of tungsten shots. Bragging about how a 7½s charge crushed a gobbler at 75 yards only seasons our ethics for the benefit of our egos. This technology should improve our shotgun’s performance at traditional lethal ranges, not encourage a reliance on space-age projectiles to cover previously closed distances with experience and dexterity in the wood. While it is ballistically possible and perfectly legal to kill a gobbler from across a football field with modern shooting, the desire to flex tungsten range for sport, in fact, erodes everything sporting about turkey hunting.
Admittedly, I have a tendency to be a turkey hunting stickler, a preference (and maybe a flaw, depending on one’s perspective) that I’ve come to embrace over the years. Consider it some sort of traditional southern hardwoods mentality unleashed in my Merriam’s zip code. For me, turkey hunting is undeniably intimate sport. That same form of intimacy seeps into the souls of like-minded hunters hunting whitetails or blowing bugles at September bulls, and it’s just as addictive. Being close to the game is a big part of the appeal.
There’s a reverence for the sound of strutting wings dragging the ground, the full sensory experience of a close-range drum shaking your insides, or the transformative richness and complexity of a gobble that can only be heard and appreciated from a shot. of stone from its source. None of these treasures are obtained by playing a 3-inch shell and bending that tom from the middle of the back 40, even as tungsten technology has made it possible. It is this pervasive intimacy that keeps me nursing my spring calendar all year long or smiling at the intrusion of a 3am wake-up call.
I also trust TSS for its unquestionable lethality at 30 yards, not the chance to throw one at him in desperation. Hand-to-hand combat with the forest’s most paranoid prey fuels the turkey hunter’s sincere adoration for his prey. When I’ve finally beaten him, pulling the trigger releases a wave of euphoria tinged with regret at closing the final chapter of my favorite spring story. While I have reverence for all game birds, my love for the wild turkey runs deeper. Out of respect, I want his death to be a quick and merciful blow that counters the slaughter with compassion and softens the primal nature of the wild hunt. TSS, for all the might of it, does this exceptionally well.
If you are looking for TSS housings in the market, we highly recommend the Federal line. They sell 24 different loads of premium turkey ranging from 3-inch .410 shells to 3 1/2-inch 12-gauge shells.
Spring turkey hunting has always revolved around how close you can get to a gobbler, not a chest-pounding competition to see who can kill one farther, no matter what tools we have at our disposal. At the risk of getting burned, I’ll go so far as to state that if you can’t get that devourer closer than 50 yards, you haven’t beaten it yet. Don’t cloud the keen survival instincts and dominance of your longbeard domain with a desperate push you wouldn’t have received in the age of the leader. Instead, hone your woodsmanship, sharpen your strategy, and fight him again tomorrow.