Things to consider when a tom steps into range
by Jay Langston
As turkey hunters, we owe it to this great sport to make solid ethical choices throughout the hunt. A wild turkey is a tough animal to bring down, so youíve got to pick your shot carefully.
Getting into proper position and being prepared for a shot is a key element of success. Once Iíve picked a tree for my setup-preferably one wider than my shoulders and taller than my head, for safetyís sake-I typically sit with my left knee pointed in the direction from where I expect the bird to approach. I sit with both knees raised and place the gun to my shoulder and the fore-end on my left knee.
When an opportunity for a shot inside 40 yards presents itself, you should aim for the gobblerís head and neck, which can be tricky at best. A gobblerís vital area-the skull and spinal cord-is pretty small. Itís easy to visualize if you compare it to a golf club, about the size of a 5-iron.
When aiming at a gobbler, wait until his neck is fully extended for the best shot. Avoid body shots at all costs. A gobblerís breast is heavily muscled and tough to penetrate with even the heaviest turkey load.
Once that gobbler steps inside gun range, your margin for error gets very narrow. Your adrenaline is pumping and your excitement meter is pegged off the chart. Nowís the time to settle down and concentrate on closing the deal.
One of the toughest things to learn is when to make your final adjustments to take a shot on a gobbler. First, have your gun in the ready before the bird even comes into range. Then, adjust your final aim when the bird canít see you make that move.
Picture your setup from the birdís perspective; his vision must be blocked for you to get away with any kind of movement. Wait to move your gun until his head goes behind a tree.
If a strutting bird comes in from your blind side, hereís another trick: Wait until he turns away and his fan blocks his view. Cheek the gun and wait for him to turn around or come out of strut, and then take the shot.
Keep these tips in mind and youíll up your chances for success when itís time to pull the trigger on a long-bearded gobbler.