Put that cherished .410 back to good use

A .410 shotgun loaded with Tungsten Super Shot is a deadly combination for young turkey hunters, even old ones, too. (Photo by Jeff Burleson)

The .410 makes a great turkey shotgun

Right when new leaves sprout with fresh greenery and spring-like weather warms the air, all kinds of birds begin to sound off at first light, in addition to every spring hunter’s favorite, the wild turkey.

 Outdoorsmen across the nation love this time of the day and look forward to spending these mornings decked out in full camouflage. They are surely special times, especially when those feathered beasts begin to gobble off on level 10.

Every hunter has a unique way to target these birds. But the days of using copper-plated lead to nail a turkey in the face are losing traction. That’s because newer loads out there in turkey caliber are super deadly. 

Outside of hunting season, turkeys seem to carry on at a leisurely pace, without a care in the world. And as soon as the first day of the season arrives, they seem to become alert and well-versed in the annual cat-and-mouse game they play with hunters. They seem to take a crash course on hunter avoidance hours before opening day. If hunters can lure these birds within 25 or 30 yards, almost any shotgun pattern can surely send these creatures to Turkey Heaven on a direct route over a bed of glowing charcoal. 

But in 2021, turkeys aren’t safe at 50 or 60 yards, thanks to the new capabilities of today’s weaponry. And an old caliber has been revamped to tackle turkeys with a modern round that is truly unstoppable.

The .410 is back

The .410 bore was first developed in 1874 and is almost a forgotten caliber. It has been used for more than a century by a wide range of users, including the U.S. military. Springfield developed the M6 shotgun as a survival shotgun. But the .410 is more known as a starter weapon for the younger generation. Many adults killed their first squirrel with a .410, maybe even their first rabbit, dove and maybe even wood ducks. A typical .410 produces light recoil and can take tons of game over its lifetime.

Today, the .410 has reappeared as a specialty weapon to take turkeys at long range with the help of Tungsten Super Shot, also known as TSS. This tungsten alloy has a density of 18gm/cc, and it has been used as a non-toxic option for taking down ducks and geese because it is rated 22% denser than standard tungsten and 56% denser than lead. Basically, the TSS is a range-extender that provides more energy at longer ranges. 

TSS turkey loads are mostly No. 9s, and in the .410, with 13/16 ounces of powder, a shell carries 295 pellets at a muzzle velocity of 1,100 feet per second. 

With these new TSS loads, turkeys are vulnerable at long ranges when nearly 300 pellets are coming their way. Stevens has created a new turkey gun in Mossy Oak camo around the TSS loads. It utilizes a custom, extra-full choke to make those long shots very predictable.        

The .410 shotgun isn’t just for juveniles anymore, either. Adults are enjoying this small gun packed with features and a true turkey killer. Maximum penetration at long range is what is needed for those turkeys that get hung up 50 yards out.

No spring planting? Prepare your land instead

April is prime planting season for warm-season food plots, but few hunters actually plant them. While wildlife surely benefit from spring and summer nutrition, this is the beginning of the growing season when the countryside flourishes with greenery from natural seed sources. Mother Nature provides adequate nutrition for wildlife for survival.

And if hunters want to save up for their fall planting regime, that is okay. But food-plot preparation activities in spring shouldn’t be totally avoided, even when warm-season plantings aren’t part of the food-plot plan. Land managers can always make alterations to their land in order to benefit future food-plot growth opportunities. 

You may not plant a warm-season food plot, but Spring is time to prepare your land for fall plantings. (Photo by Jeff Burleson)

Food-plot productivity relies on a myriad of factors, from sunlight to moisture and the chain of chemical reactions in the soil. Growing from seed isn’t rocket science per se. But it is still science, and some important factors are required in order to produce a thriving food plot. And most of these factors can be manipulated. 

Keep an ideal balance of air and moisture

To start with, food plots need adequate sunlight and an ideal balance of air and moisture. These two factors are among the most-important aspects of any successful food-plot program. Food plots are often surrounded by sunlight hogs. Trees and brush can be removed to allow more sun to reach the soil surface. Food plots also need a combination of water and air in their root systems to carry out chemical reactions and for pure respiration. While it may be hard to bring in water to most sites without an irrigation system, too much water is often a problem on some sites and can be remedied by adequate drainage. Landowners can install surface drains or small ditches around their plots to allow for proper drainage. 

Finally, soil chemistry is a common hurdle for landowners. Most food plots are constructed from wooded lands. And soil acidity is often high, making it difficult for fertilizers to react properly. Spring can be an ideal time for a lime application to raise the pH, especially when the cool season plantings are several months away. An application in April can make a significant difference to forest soils.

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Jeff Burleson
About Jeff Burleson 1247 Articles
Jeff Burleson is a native of Lumberton, N.C., who lives in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He graduated from N.C. State University with a degree in fisheries and wildlife sciences and is a certified biologist and professional forester for Southern Palmetto Environmental Consulting.

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