Turkeys are by far one of the more challenging animals to hunt. Because of this and the fact that most states have only a 30% success rate, on average, it makes sense that turkey hunters will want to figure out any advantage they can and make use of it.
As a general rule, hunters use a shotgun, muzzleloader, or crossbow/bow. However, some people like to think outside the box/color outside the lines.
With that being said, one question that is often asked by turkey hunters is whether you can hunt turkeys with a .22 rifle.
Unfortunately, there is not a straightforward answer. Instead, the answer is relatively complicated, as there are many things that must be taken into consideration before using a .22 to hunt turkeys.
A .22 can most definitely help you with your turkey harvesting success, but here is some information you need to know before you simply take your .22 out to shoot the feathered birds.
Is It Legal to Hunt Turkeys with a .22?
When it comes to the legality of hunting turkeys with a .22, things can get a little tricky. All states do not allow the use of a rifle for hunting turkeys (not including muzzleloaders, by the way). In fact, there are only about 10 U.S. states that will allow a .22 during turkey season.
These states are:
- West Virginia
Keep in mind some states will only allow air rifles (not included above), while others only permit the use of a rifle during part of turkey hunting season, which as we know, spans three different seasons.
With the law varying so much from one state to the next, it would be in your best interest to phone the Department of Natural Resources or the Game and Fish Commission in the area where you wish to turkey hunt with a .22.
This is to ensure that you don’t commit a “crime” and take the risk of losing out the rest of the season. Plus, laws are constantly changing, so while it may be legal to hunt with a .22 one year, it may be illegal the next.
Is It Practical to Hunt Turkeys with a .22?
Many people use shotguns to hunt turkeys, but once you use a .22, you will learn there is such satisfaction in it that you won’t want to turn back.
Hunting with a rifle allows you to have more precision than with a shotgun, and it allows you to take the bird cleanly. You also won’t need to worry about picking shotgun pellets out of the meat, which is something many hunters don’t like to do.
However, there are some reasons why you may want to think twice about using a .22 during turkey hunting season.
For instance, if you fail to shoot the bird in the most appropriate spot, he may be able to fly off. Alternatively, you may seriously wound the turkey and be unable to find him, which is simply inhumane.
When using a .22 to hunt, you need to realize that the rounds can travel further than the rounds of a shotgun. Therefore, you must be a bit more conscious of what is in the background.
Ultimately, despite the potential risks of using a .22, using a rifle means you can shoot a turkey at 100+ yards away with a much higher success rate overall.
Where to Shoot Turkeys with a .22
If you are going to hunt turkeys with a .22, then it is imperative you know that shot placement is key. You ultimately get one chance to take down a turkey with a .22, so you want to make sure that you hit him in the perfect spot. Otherwise, using a rifle may seem unethical in ways.
If you are aiming at a turkey that is facing you directly, you should focus on putting the bullet just below where the beard would be—the area where the neck starts to get wider.
The path of the bullet should intersect with the backbone of the bird.
Alternatively, you could aim for the head, but due to the fact that turkeys rarely stand still, it is going to be difficult to get a clean shot to the head.
Now, if you are aiming at a bird broadside, the wing butt is where you should shoot for. From the rear, you should focus on shooting the area where the horizontal crosshairs are at the wing butt and the vertical hair is separating the turkey in the middle.
By focusing on these locations for your shots, there will be very little, if any, meat spoiled. In addition, there is a high chance the bird will go down immediately.
Best .22 for Hunting Turkeys
There are several different types of .22 rifles available on the market. However, some may be better equipped at hunting turkeys.
Produced by Remington, this .22 rifle has significant velocity, especially when compared to other .22s like the Hornet. It also offers impeccable bullet concentricity, which may just be part of the reason that this rifle is so accurate in its shots.
Produced by Winchester, this .22 offers a great hunting experience overall. While it may not be the top of the line when it comes to speed, it offers impeccable accuracy with almost zero recoil. If you can send a bullet out of the 22 Hornet to a strategic location on the bird, you will be able to put him down quickly.
A couple of other options to consider include the Savage Mark II (great for newbies and those on a budget), Ruger Precision Rimfire, and CZ 457 Varmint Precision Trainer.
After receiving all of the aforementioned information, and if you are in one of the few states that allow turkey hunting with a .22 or plan to travel to one of these states, what will you do?
If you have struggled shooting down turkeys in the past, using a .22 may allow you to increase your accuracy. It may also allow you to become the hunter that you have wanted to become.
However, it is important to take in all of the information given in this article, including the various risks like legality and danger, before making your final decision.