Do everything right, and avoid Mr. Murphy, and you can shoot a bird
|Hunt wild turkeys long enough and you're gonna make a blunder or two. That's bankable. |
photo Dave Richey ©2012
My list of hunting mistakes with game, especially turkeys, is endless. Years ago, while hunting in a heavy rain with a muzzleloader, I forgot to cover the muzzle. I set my front-loader against a tree with the powder and shot charge in the barrel but the shotgun wasn't primed.
I set out my decoy, retreated to my chosen spot, and primed the muzzleloading shotgun. A large number of gobblers and hens came, and milled around in a tight circle near the decoy, and I couldn't shoot for fear of killing more than one bird. They eventually left, and I called again.
Make certain to learn the exact location of a roosted longbeardA lone gobbler a half-mile away answered, and I sweet talked him with a soft yelp and some hen jabber with a push-pull call. He came running up. I saw him first at 30 yards, and then he dropped into a little dip in the ground, and popped up again at 20 yards and stopped. The shotgun was up, and when I pulled the trigger, the primer went off with a pop. The powder did not.
I'd forgotten to put a balloon or anything else over the muzzle to keep my powder dry. The Pyrodex was a black semi-liquid. It was a lesson well learned and never forgotten.
I took a guy out one day, late in the season, and spotted a jake 150 yards away. This guy wanted to shoot a gobbler, and beard length didn't matter. It took 30 minutes to bring the jake within 80 yards, and the guy was aiming at the bird.
"He's too far away," I whispered. "Don't shoot yet. Let him get to within 35 yards." He said the bird was only 35 yards away, aimed and shot.
The young gobbler hauled tail feathers into the woods. The man maintained the bird was only 35 yards away until I asked him to give me a prominent landmark where the bird had been standing. He said the bird was right near that little bush that stood three feet high.
He was urged to pace it off in approximately 36-inch steps as I walked beside him counting the paces. I got 80 steps and he got 77 steps, and then he realized the mistake he had made. It was the last gobbler we saw that day.
Pay attention to distance and don't take long shotsThis didn't happen to me but to a friend. He knew, within 50 yards of where a gobbler had roosted the night before. He snuck in the next morning, and stopped well short of the roosting area to wait for the first gobbles of the morning. The sun came up and all was silent.
He gave a very soft tree yelp or two but nothing responded. He stuck with it, and finally with a great deal of impatience, he uncorked a loud yelp on his box call and something happened. A big gobbler bailed out of the tree he was sitting under, and it flew 75 yards, hit the ground a'runnin', and that was it. He had set up directly under the gobbler and missed his big chance.
Two friends, on their first gobbler hunt, went looking before dusk and spotted several dark birds on the ground. Just before dark they flew up into a tree. These guys knew about roosting birds and were happy.
Be positive roosted birds are wild turkeysThey returned the next morning well before dawn, set up about 100 yards away, and waited for the day to wake up. Tweety birds tweeted, crows cawed, and they yelped on box calls. They could see several dark forms in the trees, and called again and again.
Eventually the birds flew down, and went to where the hunters had seen them the previous night. No amount of calling seemed to work, so one of them slowly eased his binoculars from his backpack, and with infinite patience, eased them up to his face and studied the birds.
The birds they had roosted the night before were not real turkeys. They were turkey vultures, and they were feeding on carrion on the ground. They admitted it, and took their share of ribbing.
There is only one sure thing when turkey hunting. Murphy's Law always applies, and simply stated: If anything can go wrong, it will. Keep Mr. Murphy in mind, try to outguess him, and sometimes the gobblers react as you plan and the hunt is a success.
Of course, when we mess up, it's still good for a laugh even when we don't feel much like laughing at our silly mistakes. Trust me on this: if you hunt wild turkeys long enough, you too will make a blunder or two.