John's Journal...

How to Miss a Turkey

Day 3: Misjudging Distance

Editor’s Note: You know two things about anyone who says he’s never missed a turkey - either he lies about everything, or he’s never hunted many turkeys. We all miss, and that’s one of the reasons I enjoy the “Truth” videos that Will Primos of Primos Calls does, because he also shows all the misses in these videos. A fact of life is that if you hunt turkeys long enough, you’ll miss your share of them.

Click for Larger ViewKnowing the distance to the turkey is critical for accurate shooting. If the tom’s farther away than expected, your pattern will be too open for a killing shot. If by chance pellets do hit the head and neck area, they may lack the velocity to penetrate and cause enough damage to kill the bird. On the other hand, if you think the bird is 30-yards away, but he’s actually 15-yards away, your pattern will open very little by the time it collides with the bird. Your shot, therefore, must be right on.

Shooting the Wrong Target

Click for Larger ViewWhen the novice sees his first bird strutting at 30 yards, sanity may take flight. The result is a belief that, “As big as that bird is and as close as he is, there’s no way I can miss. I’ll just point and squeeze the trigger. The turkey will fall-over dead.” This reasoning is the same kind of logic that makes novice quail hunters point and shoot amongst a covey of quail as they burst into the air. But as experienced bird hunters know, rarely does a covey shooter bag a bird, unless he aims at a specific one.

Even though a wild turkey is a large target, to kill the gobbler, you must shoot at a very-small target: the turkey’s head. If you shoot directly at the head, one half of the shot pattern will pass over it. Instead, shoot at the waddles on the turkey’s neck where the skin joins the feathers. Then, depending on the pattern and the distance, the entire shot pattern should cover the top of the turkey’s head to the base of the turkey’s neck. If you can get one pellet in the brain or in the spinal column, the bird should go down.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewTo learn more about how to hunt turkeys successfully, click here, or visit, and type in the name of John E. Phillips’ latest turkey-hunting book, “Turkey Hunting Tactics,” that’s now available from Kindle books and contains information on all aspects of turkey hunting, including: how to set up on turkeys; how to hunt turkeys; what equipment is best; what’s the differences in western and eastern turkey hunting and how that influences the way you hunt and more. Phillips’ other information-packed turkey books, also available on Kindle, include “The Turkey Hunter’s Bible” and “PhD Gobblers.”

Tomorrow: Not Seeing the Aiming Point Will Keep You from Bagging Your Turkey

Check back each day this week for more about "How to Miss a Turkey "

Day 1: You Will Miss Turkeys If You’re An Avid Turkey Hunter
Day 2: More Turkey Misses
Day 3: Misjudging Distance
Day 4: Not Seeing the Aiming Point Will Keep You from Bagging Your Turkey
Day 5: Arrowing A Gobbler Turkey

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Entry 661, Day 3