John's Journal...


How I Play The Game of Turkey Hunting with Black Powder - Rules #1-3

Click to enlargeEDITOR'S NOTE: When hunting with my black-powder shotgun, I always wait until the bird comes in 10 to 12 yards closer to me than I do if I hunt with a conventional shotgun. My killing ground becomes 10 to 20 yards. I've chosen to play the game of hunting turkeys with black powder this way because I've bagged enough gobblers that I don't need to shoot every tom I spot. I consider playing the game fairly more important than bagging a bird. The rules I set up for hunting a tom with black powder help to stack the odds even more heavily in the turkey's favor.

Click to enlargeIf you want to have fun hunting black-powder turkeys, set the rules by which you'll play. Each hunter can establish his own set of rules based on his hunting skills and experience. Here are my seven rules.

Rule #1: I Don't Have To Kill A Turkey Today:
This rule frees me from the pressure of having to make a shot. Too often a hunter adopts the philosophy, "If the turkey gets in close, I must take the shot." When you play by that rule, you'll often rush the shot and miss the bird. But if you plan ahead and decide you can hunt today and not take a tom, you'll relieve the pressure on yourself to take the shot and still enjoy a day afield.

Click to enlargeRule #2: I Won't Take A Shot If The Bird Remains Outside My 18-Yard Killing Circle:
When I sit down to call a turkey, I look at the surrounding trees and bushes 18 yards from my stand. I mentally draw a line from one tree to the next to make a half-circle 18 yards from my stand. If the turkey crosses the line, I'll take the shot. If he doesn't cross the line, the tom wins the day. I've had longbeards come within 19 yards that I could have killed. However, because they didn't cross the line, they won the game that day.

Rule #3: I'll Only Take A Clean Shot:
A gobbler may stand within my killing zone but have his neck and head behind a small bush. More than likely, I can shoot through the bush and take the turkey. But if I don't have a clean shot to the head and neck area, I let the bird walk. I turkey hunt because I want to make the tom come to a spot where I can bag him. I may or may not pull the trigger. Click to enlargeThe decision rests on the rules I have for myself and the bird. I've taken plenty of turkeys in my lifetime. I never take an iffy shot because I know of no more sickening feeling than to miss or cripple a bird.

To learn more about turkey hunting, call Night Hawk Publications, (205) 967-3830 or write 4112 Camp Horner Road, Birmingham, AL 35243 to order John E. Phillips' three turkey-hunting books, "Turkey Hunting Tactics," "The Master's Secrets to Turkey Hunting" and "Outdoor Life's Complete Book of Turkey Hunting." You can visit to read book excerpts.


Check back each day this week for more about GETTING LUCKY ON TURKEYS WITH BLACK POWDER

Day 1: The Enjoyment and Challenge of Hunting Turkeys with Black Powder
Day 2: How to Solve Black-Powder Turkey-Hunting Problems
Day 3: How I Play The Game of Turkey Hunting with Black Powder - Rules #1-3
Day 4: How I Play The Game - Rules #4-7
Day 5: What To Do When All Else Fails



Entry 294, Day 3