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I am debating on whether to use a crossbow or a 410 shotgun for turkey hunting with my 9 year old son. He is pretty good with the crossbow, but I have always hunted turkeys with a shotgun. My 20ga NEF single bbl shotgun is a little sharp on the recoil for him, so we will be using the 410 bbl. What would give him the best chance to take his first gobbler?
 

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wingbone 15 said:
Or you can do what I did and wait until he grows into a gun capable of killing a gobbler..410..I don't think so...
dont judge anothers weapon choice, a 410 is very capable, all it takes is a decent anough pattern to put a dozen or so pellets to the turkeys head. shure you wont be able to rip them in half at 65 yds but a 410 should defanatly deliver a good anough pattern at 20yds or less.

A nicer thing to say would be pattern the gun on a paper turkey target to see if it is consistantly putting anough pellets in the kill zone and be shure to limit your shot range.
 

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Also look at putting a true recoil pad on the 20 ga. I put on a Simms Limbsaver and my eight year old who is recoil shy can use it without an issue. The only issue is it can make it too long. If he just wants to go use the cross bow if he wants to kill something use the gun with shooting sticks from a blind.
 

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If you're talking 25yds or less, a hi brass 2 3/4" load of #6 out of a 20ga. works fine. My kids now use a federal 2 3/4" heavyweight #7 and it's devastating at 25yds or less. As long as the velocities are similar to the larger gauges there's no problems except the lesser amount of shot. Just keep the shots close and make sure you pattern the gun and have them shoot it before hunting. Good luck.
 

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You could kill them all day long with #7.5 or #8 shot with small game loads pushing 1200fps out of that 20 gauge, if you keep your max range at 25 yards.
 

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I bought my 7 year old a Mossberg bantam 20ga for christmas.It thumps him a little but he keeps shooting it and never complains.I'll pattern some 3 inchers before the season and load them when we hunt.If he gets a shot,he won't care about the recoil.

I know at least two guys who's sons killed birds with a 410.It's a 20 yard and under proposition.I personally feel better with a 20 ga and just waited til he was able to handle one.

I really wouldn't feel comfortable letting a young kid fling a broadhead at a turkey.The vitals are extremely small and shot placement is critical.
 

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I would say the crossbow may be a better option than the 410. I shoot a 410 somtimes squirel hunting with full choke and 20Y max really would be effective. I patterened mine at 25y on a beer can and hardly put 7-10 pellets on it. I say the cross bow easily has a 40 yard range on a turkey and he will have a much bigger target. I took my fall turkey this year with my crossbow from 45 yards with a peep sight and it just flopped a bit.
 

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Killing turkeys with an arrow can be tricky...they look bigger than they are...and the kill zone isnt huge...not to mention they dont stop moving for very long...

Could be frustrating for a youth...maybe not...i dont know...


Shotguns are easy to shoot...easier to hit their head/neck with a shotgun than a couple inch spot with an arrow imo...


I doubt he will notice the recoil from a 20ga when he rolls his turkey..if he knows how to shoot and wont end up with a busted face...

Like was said a good recoil pad will likely help too...

If the 410 patterns it will work too...
 

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Dce..i got my boy a super bantam 20 ga when he was 8 its camo with stock extensions for when he gets bigger..put a undertaker choke on it...and shoot 3 in magnum blend he.. ..shot..its a 35 yrd killer..hes killed 2 so far.he will be 12 in may
 

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in my opinion, i would choose the crossbow because you lengthen your kill range compared to a .410 shotgun. someone correct me if i am wrong, but the effective range for a turkey with a .410 would be 20 yards (not impossible to do with decoys and a good caller, but you will have to consider a fidgety 9 year old) the effective range with a new crossbow is pushing 40 yards. and they are not hard to shoot, and no recoil. you wouldnt want a new hunter's first shot to be non-lethal because of a lack of gun.. my personal suggestions would be go with the crossbow or set up your twenty gauge with a recoil pad and have him shoot it a few times at paper targets.
 

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bassbucks69 said:
in my opinion, i would choose the crossbow because you lengthen your kill range compared to a .410 shotgun. someone correct me if i am wrong, but the effective range for a turkey with a .410 would be 20 yards (not impossible to do with decoys and a good caller, but you will have to consider a fidgety 9 year old) the effective range with a new crossbow is pushing 40 yards. and they are not hard to shoot, and no recoil. you wouldnt want a new hunter's first shot to be non-lethal because of a lack of gun.. my personal suggestions would be go with the crossbow or set up your twenty gauge with a recoil pad and have him shoot it a few times at paper targets.
The only issue with a crossbow is your kill zone is about the size of a softball, so the effective range is probably not much different than the .410. I would go with whatever weapon your son feels confident in. They will all kill a turkey. Whatever one he feels the most comfortable with is probably the one he will shoot accurately which is the key with any weapon. Good Luck
 

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There's no way I'd let a mentored kid shoot at a turkey at 40 yards with a crossbow.The effective range with a .410 and a crossbow would essentially be the same.
 

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cspot said:
The only issue with a crossbow is your kill zone is about the size of a softball, so the effective range is probably not much different than the .410. I would go with whatever weapon your son feels confident in. They will all kill a turkey. Whatever one he feels the most comfortable with is probably the one he will shoot accurately which is the key with any weapon. Good Luck
I would agree with this. Past 20-25 yards, both begin to have drawbacks. The 410 becuase of power and the crossbow becuase of trajectory amd the size of the target. Ranging the turkey becomes very important past twenty yards and 2 inches off results in a very wounded turkey.
 

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This situation sounds like a fun day is in order to determine which weapon your son is better equipped to use.
And by 'Fun Day' I mean take both weapons out and set up different scenarios and let you son take a shot with both weapons, that way your decision on which weapon to take will be easier.
For example, set up two 20yd targets, one being the regular shotgun patterning target for the.410 and the other target being a circle the size of a softball, use the softball target for the crossbow and explain the different targets for each weapon.
 

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My almost 9 year old son will be using a .410 this Spring. He is very comfortable with the firearm, and we are limiting the shooting to no more than 20 yards. In addition, we'll be setting out the decoys to hopefully draw in a turkey to within .410 range. In my experience with decoys, most birds killed have been in the 15 - 20 yard range... a lethal range for a well placed payload from a .410

Lots of good advice to glean from previous posts... Good luck this Spring and stay safe
 

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You've received a lot of good advice here. As others have said, don't rule out the 20 gauge before determining if you can reduce the recoil. You don't need magnum loads. You may find that a better recoil pad will help. Ask a competent gunsmith what else you can do to mitigate the recoil.

As far as the .410 goes, I plan on trying to get a gobbler with the pipsqueak shotgun, but I've been hunting turkeys for over 40 years and some people caution even me against it. I agree with others that the .410 can do the job, but I wouldn't put it into the hands of a first-time hunter.

Your goal should not be to get your son a gobbler. Your goal is to give him the best turkey hunting experience you can. You want to give him the experience of calling a gobbler in close, of learning from watching the gobbler, of bonding with him in the hunting experience, and of bonding him to the idea of hunting. Anything else -- including killing the gobbler -- is gravy.

A .410 will require precise shot placement. That's language we usually use for rifles, but shooting at a called-in gobbler is more like rifle shooting than shotgun shooting. You must hit the head with enough pellets having enough penetration to kill the big bird.

A crossbow can do the job with a body shot out to 40 yards or more in the hands of a competent shooter. In the hands of a 9 year old, that range is reduced simply because of the shooter's lack of experience under live target conditions and his lack of experience in shooting at varying shooting positions and angles. I'd figure the range for a crossbow on a live target in the hands of a 9 year old is 20 yards -- about the same as with a .410 in the same hands.

I think the 20-gauge is still your first option. You have plenty of time to figure out how to mitigate recoil, and what load to use. Examine the stats on energy with various size pellets at various ranges, and don't try to stretch the range on a live gobbler.

Also, build up to the 20-gauge. Start with a .22. Transition to a .410. Then have him shoot something like a .223 or a .243 rifle. Help him to understand the principles of recoil -- it's more than the opposite reaction to a bullet or load coming out of the barrel, but start there. When you move on to the 20 gauge, wrap yourself around himi at the bench so that your larger body and stronger arms and hands can control more of the recoil so his little body doesn't have to. Take him shooting at least once a week, twice if possible, and he'll be ready when the time comes.

The point to teach him is that recoil is nothing to be afraid of, that all of us have a limit to the recoil we can take. Make sure he's wearing ear protection even when shooting a .22 rimfire.

Don't give up yet on the 20 gauge. With almost 2 months to go I think the boy can be ready to shoot that, and to shoot it well.

Steve.
 

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I agree.My seven year old isn't a big kid and target loads from a very light 20 ga don't bother him a bit.The gun fits him well and that makes a huge difference.Before the season starts,he'll have put at least 100-200 rounds through that gun.I'll put a 3 in magnum or a 2 3/4 heavishot load in it when it's time to hunt and he won't even notice the difference if he gets a shot.I'll still limit him to 25-30 yards max,regardless of how well the gun patterns with a turkey load.If he get's one that would be great but he'll no doubt feel the adrenaline rush when we work some birds and that's all I'm striving for.
 
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