A jake; See gun barrel; Inch the barrel left and shoot for the head-neck
|A jake and a gun barrel ready for alignment and tagging.|
They shoot gobblers with what appears to be calmness. I know some hunters who hunt a dozen states every spring, and they have plenty of time and experience to hone their skills to avoid moving at the wrong time or to make some of the other mistakes made when gobblers close the gap between out-of-range and time-to-shoot.
Folks, in about two weeks, Michigan's first turkey season will open to hunters with the necessary permit. Two weeks doesn't leave too much time to begin thinking about calling in and shooting a nice gobbler. It may be time to tighten up your nerves before the opener.
Unless you're a well-seasoned pro, most hunters lose their coolI've had gobblers almost trip over my feet, brush against my elbow, and stand within three feet of my shotgun barrel and gobble in my face.
Are my nerves better than yours? I can't answer that question, but when I hear a bird approach, stop to spit and drum, I know any movement or noise on my part would end this hunt fast. Once a bird came very close to me along a fence, and was near enough for me to grab had I been dumb enough to try.
Most people who grab supposedly dead long-spur gobblers off the ground by the feet when the bird is still flopping usually only make that mistake once. A bird with good spurs will rake deep cuts in your hand, and most require a visit to the hospital.
I was ready for that sneaky bird, and once he put a couple of trees between us, and stopped to fan out and display, I knew this hunt would end with a big and dead gobbler over my shoulder.
He gobbled once near the decoy, and when the decoy didn't respond, he lifted his head to look around, and I shot him. Is this coolness under pressure or just a matter of experience?
Perhaps a measurable bit of bothTo my humble way of thinking, it is more experience than ice water in my veins. So far this season I haven't had the chance to test my mettle against a wise or gobbler because my season starts April 30.
There have been many times when a bird may circle. Your eyes can only track a bird just so far to the right or left and you lose sight of him. Just because you can't see the bird doesn't mean he or one of his chums can't see you. Grit your teeth and hang tight.
These are times when so-called "nerves of steel" come in mighty handy. My hearing helps make up for my poor vision, and I can hear turkeys walking behind me and that helps me know their exact location. The trick then is to remain absolutely motionless, and wait for the bird to circle around in front of the shotgun. Sometimes they do and other times they don't. It's a part of the hunt we can't control.
Think of yourself as a statue: immobile, rigid and incapable of movement or sound. Trust me, it's tough to do when a gobbler gets right behind you and rocks your head and hat with a tremendous gobble. Expect that to happen, and be prepared for it. If a gobble doesn't come, that's great, but it's smart to be ready to avoid jumping.
I guided a young lady one time, and saw some birds cross into our woods behind us. I told her the birds may walk down the edge of the field near her, and to be prepared.
They did and she didn't. The birds were 10 yards away when she went "Eek! There are some turkeys," in her loudest voice. It took them about 10 seconds to put 200 yards between us, and she never got a shot.
She blew her only chance by screamingImagine a gobbler in search of a hen. Your shotgun should be up to your shoulder and balanced across your knees long before the gobbler gets close enough for a shot. The stock should be against your cheek, you eye lined up over the front bead, red-dot sight or scope. Once the bird is in the right spot, pinch off a push-button safety between thumb and forefinger, ease the finger up to the trigger, aim and shoot.
It's sometimes amazing how motionless and quiet you can make yourself if you concentrate hard enough on it. Just take the occasional deep breath, ease it out softy, try not to hyperventilate, and enjoy the experience for what it is: an exceptional opportunity to achieve absolute calmness before the shot.
Then, if you shoot straight and a big longbeard lays on the ground 25 yards away, feel free to let loose with a silent scream of wonder and joy. An audible scream will probably spook other nearby birds out of the county and ruin any chance for someone else to score.
Turkeys often will stand and look when a shot goes off or they may run 20 yards, stop and turn around to look at their fallen friend. Occasionally they will take off and fly far out of sight before landing.
A loud scream will send them wildly on their way. So learn to conquer your nerves, and it's surprising how easy turkey hunting can be ... once in a while.