John's Journal...

15 Yards or Less 50 Yards or More: The Toughest Ranges for Turkeys

Why the Up-Close and Personal Shots Are the Easiest to Miss

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Knowing your distance fromthe turkey when you prepare to take the shot and resisting the urge to shoot when the bird is too close or too far away drastically will increase your odds for taking a tom each time you hunt. This week, we’ll see how 15 yards or less and 50 yards or more are the toughest ranges for taking toms.

Click to enlargeWhen your shot pattern leaves the end of the barrel directed at a turkey at close range,it has less distance in which to open-up while traveling to the target than if the bird is further away. Therefore, you’ll shoot avery, very tight pattern when the turkey’s standing close to you. Most turkey hunters choke-down their guns tight to have very-densepatterns at 30 or 40 yards.However, from 0 to 15 yards, these same hunters may not have more than a 3- to a 5-inch pattern. When you aim a small, tight pattern at a turkey’s head and neck area, you more than likely will miss the bird if...     
* he squats, leans forward or jumps;    
* you have your head up off the stock ever so slightly; or   Click to enlarge 
* you cant the gun.    
Being off a small amount when you aim usually won’t cause you to miss a bird at 30 to 35 yards because the pattern opens-out and covers a wider area at that distance than it will at 15 yards or less.Today when I shoot at a turkey from 15 yards or less, I aim my shotgun like I do my rifle.  Due to the closeness of the shot, I know I have avery-small kill zone. Therefore, I aim farther down the turkey’s neck and more toward his chest area. By leaving less margin for error, more times than not I will down the tom than when I aim at the base of his neck.

With Click to enlargemost 3-inch magnums, if you shoot lower on the turkey’s neck area and more toward the turkey’s body, you’ll have a greater chance of downing the bird than if you aim anywhere from the top of the tom’s head to his wattles. I’ve missed as many, if not more, gobblers because I’ve allowed a bird to come in too close to me before I’ve taken the shot than I have because a turkey has been too far from me. I believe nervous gobblers clucking and ducking at less than 15 yards make them the hardest targets to take. I easily can miss a turkey at this range. If you allow the bird to get in too close, shoot for a bigger target than just the head and the neck to drastically increase your odds for bagging that bird. I know some hunters who claim to outdraw turkeys at close range. These people may have gotten off their shots and downed their toms. But what they usually decline to tell you are the number of times they have quick-drawn on gobblers and missed. Turkey hunters remind me of gamblers. They always tell you when they win and rarely when they lose.

Tomorrow: When You Play With the Gobbler

Check back each day this week for more about "15 Yards or Less 50 Yards or More: The Toughest Ranges for Turkeys"

Day 1: That Turkey Out-Quicked Me
Day 2: What Happens Up Close
Day 3: Why the Up-Close and Personal Shots Are the Easiest to Miss
Day 4: When You Play With the Gobbler
Day 5: What Happens When You Take Long Shots


Entry 500, Day 3