Chip Gross

Closing the Deal

How to avoid mistakes when turkey moves within range

More opportunities for taking a wild turkey are muffed by hunters during the last critical few moments before pulling the trigger than at any other time during a hunt. In most cases, a poor last-second decision is due to inexperience, a serious case of nerves, or both. That said, the following tips will help you avoid the mistakes many hunters make when a turkey is approaching those last few yards.

Don’t move, Don’t move, Don’t Move!

Very few wild animals have the keen eyesight of a wild turkey, and if you think you can quick-draw one, you can’t. Believe me, I’ve tried. Several times. I once had three jakes surprise me on opening morning of the Ohio turkey hunting season, walking up to within 10 feet of me at first light, my shotgun still in my lap.

“No problem,” I thought, my chest heaving with excitement. “Surely I can kill at least one of these three.” I gripped my shotgun tightly, then counted to three in my head. “One, two, three, go!”

Jerking the shotgun from my lap to my shoulder, all three jakes went from zero to 60 in less than a second — or so it seemed. Needless to say, I shot a large hole in the air behind the head of one of them, but never touched a feather. Live and learn.

To avoid such a scenario, have your shotgun up on your bended knee and pointed in the direction a gobbler is approaching before he comes into view. If you’re teaching a youngster or your spouse to turkey hunt, a camouflaged shooting stick may be helpful in supporting the gun.

Shooting too soon

Adult wild turkey gobblers across North America weigh an average of about 20 pounds and stand some three feet tall. If you’ve not turkey hunted much, such a large bird approaching through the woods can seem closer than he actually is, especially if he’s in strut.

Many gobblers are crippled and lost each year by hunters shooting too soon. Way too soon. The keys to avoiding such a mistake are knowing your shotgun’s effective range and how to accurately judge distance.

Most wild turkeys are killed at…

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