As just about anyone who has ever hunted the
American wild turkey will tell you, it is one of the most
enjoyable and addictive of the hunting sports. Turkey Hunting is
much more than just sitting somewhere waiting for game to show
up. It involves the art of calling in the bird. When everything
is going right, it is a conversation between the hunter and the
long beard Tom. Most wild turkeys that have been hunted before
are very wary animals, and the hunter must convince the bird
that he is not a hunter at all, but rather a hen who is
interested in romantic activity. Another wonderful thing about
turkey hunting is that it takes place in the Spring, just as
plants are breaking dormancy and showing all the signs that
Winter is finally over, as opposed to hunting in the bitter cold
as is sometimes the case during deer season. Calling in a bird
requires very little in specialized equipment. Just a good call
and the knowledge of how to use it, along with a shotgun of
ample power, will get you started. However, as with most of the
hunting sports, using better equipment can increase your odds of
success, and only adds to the enjoyment of the sport.
Turkey hunting is unlike most shotgun sports in
that the gun is actually aimed like a rifle, instead of quickly
pointed as in dove or pheasant hunting. In fact, where it is
legal, hunting turkey with a rifle is the preferred method.
However, most states do not allow the use of a rifle for turkey
hunting. Most dedicated turkey guns come with provisions for the
mounting of optical sights, to increase the hunter’s ability
to pick out his target in thick woods or dense brush.
Savage has recently introduced a new bolt
action shotgun built specifically for those who pursue the wild
turkey. It is more like a rifle that shoots shotgun shells than
like a shotgun adapted for turkey hunting, in that it is a
bolt-action repeater with a two-shot box magazine, allowing a
total of three shots to be carried in the weapon. The new
Savage 210FT has a massive bolt that dwarfs that of a center
fire bolt-action rifle. The bolt in the 210FT weighs one pound
and seven ounces, and has a diameter of .993 inch, not including
the three full-length guide rails. The twenty-four inch barrel
is also substantial, looking more like a ten gauge than a
twelve. The oversize bolt handle lifts only sixty degrees
to easily clear a low-mounted scope sight. The heavy-duty
rotating bolt head carries two opposed extractors, and the 210FT
uses a fixed blade ejector that tosses the empty shell out with
authority or rolls it gently into your hand, depending upon how
forcefully the bolt is operated. The lightweight synthetic stock
is finished in a RealTree Advantage pattern, with the
barreled action and trigger guard finished in a matte blue. The
bolt is stainless steel. As can be seen in the photos, the camo
pattern is very effective in the hardwoods. The stock is
equipped with sling swivel studs, also finished in the RealTree
pattern, and the butt wears a welcome ventilated recoil pad.
The 210FT weighs in at just over seven and one-half pounds,
which is about right for a turkey gun. The trigger pull on the
test gun measured five and one-quarter pounds, and released
crisply. The manual safety on the 210FT is right on the top
tang, just as God intended. I detest the crossbolt safeties that
are on the trigger guards of most shotguns. The Savage
comes with one screw-in choke tube that measures .695 at the
muzzle. It will accept any standard screw-in choke tubes that
fit Winchester, Browning, or Mossberg twelve gauge
standard bore shotguns.
While the 210FT is equipped with open sights, I
decided to mount an optical sight, just as almost all purchasers
of the gun will do. I prefer an optical sight on my turkey guns.
Hunting in the deep woods, a good low-powered scope allows the
hunter to see through the brush and undergrowth to better judge
the size, sex, and age of the bird. The Savage is drilled and
tapped to accept any two-piece scope mount that will fit their
10 and 110 series bolt action rifles that are equipped with the AccuTrigger.
In other words, the round-top receiver rifles. Two Weaver
number 46 bases will work, but due to the length of the action,
they place the rings too far apart to fit many of the scopes
which are best suited to this weapon. Instead, I chose the
superb Leupold Quick Release bases and rings. This system
places the rings closer together than does the Weaver system,
and allows the quick and easy removal and replacement of the
scope without loss of zero.
In the Leupold rings I mounted a new scope from Mueller
Optics that is designed specifically for the turkey hunter.
While this Mueller 2 to 7 power scope would also be a good
choice on a big game rifle, its unique reticle makes it an
excellent choice for the turkey hunter. The reticle consists of
heavy crosshairs that lead to a center circle which covers
fifteen inches at forty yards when set on the scope’s
two-power setting. Inside the circle are fine crosshairs that
lead to a one minute center dot. With the turn of an
eleven-position rheostat dial atop the scope, the center dot can
be illuminated by battery power. This scope offers the
advantages of a low-powered variable scope, along with the
low-light advantage of a red dot sight, but unlike a standard
dot sight, if the battery runs down due to forgetting to turn it
off, you still have a very useable 2 to 7 scope atop the gun.
The windage and elevation adjustments are easily made without
the use of a coin or tools, and are graduated in one-quarter
In addition to various other turkey loads, I
tested out some of the new Winchester Xtended Range
Hi-Density shot loads specifically built for turkey hunting.
Hi-Density shot is ten percent heavier than lead shot of the
same size, and is more consistent and round. A look at the photo
of the shot shows very uniform size and shape of the individual
shot pellets. Winchester claims better patterns, deeper
penetration, and harder-hitting long range performance as
compared to lead. As can also be seen in the photos, the Xtended
Range ammo provided for some very good patterns from the Savage.
I tried a variety of choke tubes from Trulock,
Kicks, Comp-N-Choke, and Hastings ranging
from a tight .640 to a .700, but none bettered the
performance of the factory Savage tube while using the Xtended
Range shells. The patterns of the number five shot proved tight
enough that I would have no problem taking a shot on a Tom out
to sixty yards. The 210FT is chambered for all three-inch
shells, and the velocity of the Winchester ammo starts out at
1225 feet-per-second. For turkey hunting, I prefer a three inch
shell to a three and one-half inch, as my experience shows that
I usually get better patterns with the shorter shell. A turkey
is killed with three or four well-placed pellets. There is
nothing to be gained by throwing more shot downrange. In fact, I
often use a two and three-quarter inch shell, depending upon the
patterns thrown by a particular gun. Winchester offers this new
Xtended Range ammo in a variety of shells lengths and shot
sizes. A tight pattern from a hard-hitting load is all that is
needed, and the Savage bolt gun shooting the Xtended Range ammo
makes a lot of sense. With turkey season just a few days away, I
intend to try out this combination on a bird very shortly.
For more information on the extensive line of
Savage firearms, check them out on the web at: www.savagearms.com.
For a look at the entire line of Winchester
Xtended Range Hi-Density turkey loads, go to: www.winchester.com.
You can purchase the Mueller Turkey scope
directly from Mueller Optics at: www.muelleroptics.com.
For a look at the extensive line of Leupold
mounts and rings, go to: www.leupold.com.
To locate a dealer where you can
buy this gun, Click on the DEALER FINDER icon at:
Got something to say about this article? Want to agree (or
disagree) with it? Click the following link to go to the GUNBlast Feedback Page.