Editor's note: This story was written in conjunction with Kenny Long.

We have a love/hate relationship with our turkey shotguns — if they knock over a big gobbler on an improbable shot, we love them and take the credit. But if the gobbler runs off after what should have been an easy kill, it’s always the gun’s fault.

Now is the time to increase the odds that you’ll love your shotgun this season by spending a little quality time with it before you take it for long walks in the turkey woods starting next month.

I was musing over these thoughts, and talking to a friend in the Ozarks, Kenny Long, who had some interesting observations on choosing the proper turkey gun — and then tuning it for hunting turkey. 

His methods struck me as really practical for the average shooter/turkey hunter — so I asked to interview him and put some of his suggestions to paper. Hopefully this will help all you feather dusters, whether in the flatlands, the hill country or those traveling to the mountains, to collect birds this spring. I know his ideas definitely helped me design my next turkey gun. 

The following are Long’s thoughts on the ideal combination of shotguns and turkey loads. Here’s what he’s settled on — and how you can build your own personal gobbler gun:

Pump it up

“I’ve never considered anything other than a pump,” he said. “The main reason is silence in loading on the stand. I always slip two shells in the magazine before I leave the house so I won’t get to the turkey woods without ammo. I slide a shell out of the magazine and slip it into the chamber when I sit down, 45 minutes before sunrise, sometimes within a hundred yards of a roosting