A Clean Shot

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Published on: Apr. 2, 1999

Last revision: Nov. 2, 2010

vision. They use it to maximum benefit, and what spooks them is movement. Move at all when a turkey is in view and chances are hunting that bird for the day will be over. To be sure, camouflage helps break up a hunter's outline, and it's important to choose equipment and clothes that blend in with your background. But the real secret to fooling a turkey into close range is not to make any unnecessary movements.

Picking Position and the Shot When picking a position to work a turkey in close, choose a set-up that takes away a turkey's best defense-his eyes. You can do this by putting a slight rise or fall in the terrain, 25 or 30 yards away, between you and the turkey. Then whenever the turkey can be seen, he's in good range to kill. To help break up your outline and for safety, pick a tree to sit against that is wider than your shoulders.

As a turkey responds to your calls, have your shotgun on your knee pointing in the direction of the approaching bird. If the turkey is coming in fast and being noisy, mount the shotgun tight against your cheek and aim toward the spot where you think the bird will appear. Have your finger on the safety and keep a cool head-a hunter might pop over the ridge instead of a turkey.

If a turkey appears quietly, off from the direction you are pointing, wait until the bird's head is behind a tree or other obstruction before you move your shotgun. While aiming make putting calls with a diaphragm caller. This will make a turkey stop and stretch to look, giving maximum exposure to the bird's head and neck. Never take a shot with a screen of brush between you and the bird. Brush destroys shot patterns. Wait until your bird stands in the clear.

Where and How to Aim If your turkey gun has conventional shotgun sights--a front bead and no rear sight--you will have to make a special effort to keep your head down with your cheek tight against the stock. Under the excitement of aiming at a big gobbler, it's easy to look over the barrel with your cheek off the stock. Functioning as the rear sight, your eyes will be above the plane of your shotgun's barrel and will cause you to shoot high.

Your aiming point should be at the base of the neck where neck meets feathers. Don't aim directly at the head. If you do and the turkey, by chance, moves its head the moment you pull the trigger, you will probably miss. Moreover if you put the bead right on a turkey's head and you fail to get your cheek tight against the stock, your shot pattern will buzz right over the bird. Aim at the base of the turkey's neck. This helps prevent these problems.

And shoot your shotgun as if it were a rifle-this means aim carefully and squeeze the trigger. For practice, sit with your back against a tree in the same position you would be shooting from during turkey season, and spend time target shooting with a .22 caliber rifle. It's a great way to polish your marksmanship under hunting conditions.

Proper Attitude Here's the last ingredient for becoming a fine turkey shot: Don't put killing a turkey at the top of your hunting list. Have something else in first-place position-of being the best hunter you can be, enjoying the throaty ring of a gobbling tom at dawn or sensing the history and connections with nature that are a part of the hunt.

With these as your priorities you will be less tempted to take shots you shouldn't, and you will be more able to enjoy turkey hunting.

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