The .22 is one of the most popular bullet calibers in use today. It is mainly used to hunt small animals such as rodents for target practice and shooting practice. So would it be effective on a turkey? And if it would, how should you go about taking down a turkey with a .22 caliber bullet?
These are the two main questions we will be answering in this article. But before we go any further we need to understand the different variations of the .22 caliber used. For the purposes of this article, we will consider the .22 LR caliber.
Differences Between .22LR And .22 Magnum
The main difference between these two rounds is the diameter. The .22LR has a smaller diameter of 0.226 inches, while the .22 Magnum has a diameter of 0.242 inches. In terms of stopping power, the .22 Magnum is the undisputed winner between the two.
However, the .22 Magnum is pricier and rarer than the .22LR. Thus in most cases, hunters use the .22LR as it is easier to find. However, since it is not as powerful as the .22 Magnum, should you use it for turkey hunting?
Is It Possible To Take Down A Turkey With A .22 Caliber Bullet?
A 31 grain .22 caliber bullet will have a stopping power of 204 ft-lbs, this translates to about 277 j of hitting energy. This amount of energy is sufficient to kill even a human. Thus it is possible to take down a turkey with a .22 caliber bullet.
For Turkey hunting, you want to use something like a .22 hornet or the .22 Magnum. The .22LR can also get the job done, but will not be as effective as the other two .22 calibers mentioned. Also, it does require some level of skill and marksmanship to take down a turkey with a .22 caliber.
Is It Legal To Shoot A Turkey With A Rifle? In Which States Can You Kill A Turkey With A 22?
But just because you can hunt turkey with a .22 caliber bullet does not mean it is legal. Almost all states prohibit the use of rifles for turkey hunting. In most states, only shotguns and archery equipment are allowed. In others, air rifles are allowed.
Only ten states allow the use of a .22 caliber for hunting turkeys. These states are
- Wyoming, and
- West Virginia.
So if you are hunting in any of these ten states, you are allowed to use a .22 caliber for hunting turkey; if not, you would be doing so illegally.
Where To Shoot A Turkey With A 22 Rifle
So let’s say you want to use a .22 LR for turkey hunting; which part of the turkey should you aim for to guarantee a kill like a bow shot placement. With this type of caliber, the only place you can aim for is the head and neck. Hitting on the head or neck area will ensure a clean kill.
But why not the body? You may ask. Well, a turkey’s vital organs are small and are about the size of your fist. So aiming at these vitals that include the heart can be tricky. The vitals are hidden beneath a thick layer of feathers and a muscled chest to make things harder.
Using a .22 caliber on a turkey’s vital organs will require great accuracy. With this kind of caliber it is easy to miss or not hit the vitals you are aiming for. So unless you are a really good shot, aiming for the body with a .22 caliber rifle will not be a good idea.
So which part of the turkey’s body should you aim for. With a .22 caliber rifle, you have a better chance of killing your prey by aiming at the head. If not the head then the neck is the best place to shoot with a 0.22 cal rifle.
How To Shoot A Turkey With A .22
Now that you have the gobbler in your crosshairs the only thing left is to shoot. A general rule of thumb is to shoot at the turkey when it is not moving. When on the move, a turkey’s body looks bigger than it really is, which can fool you into thinking you are aiming for its vitals when you are not.
As mentioned you want to aim for either the neck or head. The neck of the bird contains blood vessels and nerves used to circulate blood to the spine and the rest of the body. A well-placed shot to the head or neck will disrupt this flow, and the nerves and the turkey will die almost instantly without feeling any pain.
Aiming above where the turkey’s line of feathers joins its fleshy part of the body will allow for some margin of error.
What Other Equipment Can I use To Hunt Turkey?
In most states, archery equipment is also legal for hunting turkeys that including compound bows, and crossbows. In other states, you can also use muzzleloading shotguns or even air rifles. And in fact, muzzleloading shotguns have seasons dedicated to them.
What Ammo Type Should I Use With A Shotgun
A shotgun is the recommended firearm to use when hunting turkeys. But what kind of ammo should you use with your shotgun? When it comes to shotguns we talk of gauge and not calibers.
Shotguns come in a variety of gauges from 12 gauge to 20 gauge. The dense copper-plated lead shells have been used to kill turkeys for many years. So you cannot go wrong with a copper-plated lead shell.
However, if you want more lethality and improved range go for the newer tungsten shells. Tungsten is a denser material and tungsten shells can deliver a killer blow from 50 yards and beyond.
Which Type Of Air Rifle Are Best For Turkey Hunting
Apart from shotguns, you can also use air rifles to take down the turkey. However, not every type of air rifle will be effective for this purpose. A .22 caliber spring-powered air rifle will be an ideal option for turkey hunting. It offers the right mix of stopping power and accuracy.
You can also use a PCP rifle that costs under $1000, but with PCPs I recommend using a .25 caliber rifle. You can also opt for a .30 caliber PCP rifle.
While you can take down a turkey with a .22LR, a shotgun will be a better option. It will be much more effective and, in most states, is the legal way of taking down turkey instead of a rifle. However, some states allow the use of a .22 rifle to take down turkeys.