John's Journal...

Turkey Hunting with Bo Pitman of White Oak Plantation

Why Your Gun Doesn’t Shoot Straight

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Bo Pitman can’t remember when he hasn’t hunted turkeys. For more than 20 years, he’s guided and hunted turkeys at White Oak Plantation near Tuskegee, Alabama, a 30,000-acre-plus hunting lodge that has some of the best turkey hunting in the nation. From March 14th to the end of April, Pitman’s in the woods of White Oak hunting turkeys every day. With stands of hardwood timber, pine plantations and fields dispersed throughout the property, White Oak’s ideal habitat for the Eastern wild turkey. Each season, 30 to 50 hunters bag from 35 to 55 turkeys off this property. I don’t know any other place in the nation with more gobbling Eastern turkeys than White Oak. This week, we’ll ask Pittman what’s required to take a longbeard, and what we need to know to increase our odds for taking gobblers this spring.Click to enlarge

I have some hunters who take their shotguns out of the boxes they’ve bought them in and get ready to go hunting. They think that because they’ve bought those shotguns brand new, that they will shoot straight and take turkeys for them. But all shotguns coming right out of the box don’t necessarily shoot straight. This is the reason why every guide wants to go with his hunter and see him pattern his shotgun on a turkey target. Once the hunter patterns his shotgun on a turkey-head target, the hunter and the guide both know how close and/or how far away that hunter can take a shot at a turkey with a reasonable expectation of taking that gobbler. Some shotguns will shoot a really-tight pattern, but that pattern may not be right in the center of where they’re aiming with the bead on the end of the shotgun. I prefer that a hunter not bring a brand-new shotgun on his turkey hunt with me. I’d rather he bClick to enlargering a shotgun he’s hunted with for several seasons that he’s comfortable with, so he knows that when he pulls the trigger with the shells he normally shoots for turkey hunting, the gun and those shells will produce the pattern he needs to take the turkey home with him. Then he won’t stand there in disgust and watch the turkey either run or fly off.

Regardless of how many turkeys we hear gobble, how many turkeys we get to come to us, and how close we’re able to get to the turkey before the hunter takes the shot, if that hunter doesn’t have a comfortable cushion to sit on and a gun he’s comClick to enlargefortable enough with that he can make an accurate shot, then everything else we do on the hunt won’t produce a gobbler for that hunter. Now I’m not saying that you won’t miss a turkey. I’ve seen legendary turkey hunters miss turkeys. I’ve seen and guided some of the greatest turkey hunters in the nation, and they’ve missed turkeys, not because of any fault of the hunter or his equipment. They’ve just missed. Sometimes, even when you do everything right, you’ll miss a turkey. It happens. But what I want to do, and what I want my hunter to do is everything humanly possible to prevent missing a turkey. When you miss a turkey, the only one that feels good about that miss is usually the turkey. This is the reason I try to do an equipment check with my hunters before we go hunting. I want to do everything in my power to help that turkey hunter get the turkey he’s come to White Oak to take.

For more information on hunting at White Oak Plantation, call (334) 727-9258, or visit, or email

Tomorrow: Stingy Calling

Check back each day this week for more about "Turkey Hunting with Bo Pitman of White Oak Plantation"

Day 1: The Cussing Gobbler
Day 2: Understanding Turkey Time
Day 3: Stuff You’ve Gotta Have
Day 4: Why Your Gun Doesn’t Shoot Straight
Day 5: Stingy Calling



Entry 392, Day 4