Missing Turkeys Revisited

Whether this hunter hits or misses, he wins! Photo courtesy Howard Communications

I once penned a column for turkey hunters about how to miss a turkey. That may seem an odd thing to want to do until you consider turkey season is a beautiful time of the year to be out in the field. The mornings are brisk, the trees are greening, the air is filled with springtime freshness and sounds of far-off tom-gobbles. But the season is fleeting – less than a month with scant few weekends available.

Couple this with a one turkey per season limit in these parts. The few states allowing hunters to harvest a second bird are considered liberal.

Hunting turkeys isn’t a pastime; for most, it’s an addiction. The turkey-chasers I know go into “full strut” as the days start getting longer in late winter. They start looking at catalogs for the latest turkey fashions and plotting strategies that will take them hither and yon across the country to places reputed to be overrun with turkeys. Or places with special kinds of turkeys. There is an extra-special variant in Florida that lives only in places infested with rattlesnakes. Grab that catalog and sift through the pages for light weight, yet snake proof, turkey garb.

It has to be a supreme let down for one short pull of a shotgun trigger to turn a person from a turkey hunter into a turkey toter. What stylishly-shirted turkey buff isn’t grinning ear to ear as he or she hefts that big ol’ long-beard to carry it out to civilization?

I’ll tell you. The one who suddenly realizes the season is over! No more spring sunrises in the turkey woods. No more deft yelping on the turkey call. Nothing to look forward to until the winter solstice once again brings ever-lengthening days and the pre-season turkey hunter catalogs start appearing in mailboxes.

One boom of the gun and it’s all over. That’s why I explained how a hunter can and should relish lobbing only poorly placed shots at turkeys – especially early on in the season. It extends the fun.

I detailed in that long-archived essay, how to shoot too soon, or too far. I listed ways to make easy shots nearly impossible. I did the math explaining how a light screen of brush can easily deflect almost all the carefully counted pellets loaded in the high-test, camo-coated turkey loads being used. I researched and categorized a variety of hunter-tested methods of missing that not-so-important shot.

If you are a beginning turkey hunter and think this wisdom would be helpful to you, drop me a line. I’ll send you a reprint.

However, if you are a turkey-taker yet to adopt my theory that poor marksmanship is a skill to develop, Browning has come up with the ideal shotgun for you. It has to be great! It’s called the Ultimate Turkey Shotgun.

This new shotgun comes with Mossy Oak Break-Up Country camo in 24″ or 26″ barrel lengths. The sights are the Marble Arms Bullseye rear sight and fiber-optic front sight. A short Picatinny rail allows mounting of red dot optics. I don’t even know what all that means, but if I were dead set on making my next turkey season a short one, I’d want a gun having just those accouterments.

Plus it’s a double barrel. Done, right, turkey hunters only need one shot. After all, the birds aren’t flying past at high speeds. Mostly they are just standing there motionless, hoping there isn’t a fiber optic front sight pointed at them. It’s akin to shooting a sitting duck.

The good thing about a double barrel is having one of the two barrels choked tight to make those impossibly long shots possible. The other barrel can be fitted with the “spreader” choke tube “for those times when the turkeys come to the call within feet instead of yards” – this last quote coming straight off the Browning company press release.

So, erstwhile turkey afficionados, make your choice. Hit or miss, do it right or wrong, you win either way.

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Mike Schoonveld
Mike Schoonveld grew up hunting and fishing in rural Northwest Indiana. In 1986 he piggy-backed a career as an outdoor writer onto his already long tenure as a wildlife biologist with the Indiana DNR. Now retired from his DNR position, Schoonveld is a U.S. Coast Guard licensed boat captain, operates Brother Nature Charters on Lake Michigan and spends much of his time trailering his boat to fishing hotspots around Indiana and the Midwest. Mike can be reached through his website www.brother-nature.com or visit Mike's Outdoor World Blog at www.bronature.com

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