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Take Your Best Shot to Tag that Tom

As turkey hunters, we owe it to the sport to make solid, ethical choices throughout the hunt. A wild turkey is a tough animal to bring down, so you've got to pick your shots carefully.

Tag that Tom

  • Resting your gun on a knee before the gobbler comes into view is a good practice.

  • Wait until the gobbler steps behind a tree before making your move.

  • A gobbler's head and neck is the best target for shotgunners. Avoid taking body shots on gobblers. Their heavily muscled breasts protect them from other gobblers' spurs and are tough to penetrate.

  • A strutting gobbler has a blind spot directly behind him that will cover any moves you need to make. Just be sure other birds won't catch you in the act.

  • Wait until a strutting bird raises his head and take the higher-percentage shot.

The first step in taking a good, killing shot is to know your gun's capabilities.Pattern your favorite turkey gun and find the best load. It should be able to put at least eight or 10 pellets in the vitals at 40 yards.When the opportunity presents itself, aim for the gobbler's head and neck – a shot that can be tricky at best. A gobbler's vital area – the skull and spinal chord – is small. Comparable to a golf club, it's 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 on turkeys at all costs. Their breasts are heavily muscled and tough to penetrate with even the heaviest turkey load. Also, don't shoot a bird in full strut. His neck will be contracted, and you will have a much smaller target. Here's a tip if you want a bird to raise his head: Give a loud cluck with a mouth call to get him to snap to attention.

Once the gobbler steps inside gun range your margin for error gets really narrow. Your adrenaline is pumping and your excitement meter is pegged off the chart. It's an easy time to make a mistake, but the most important 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 at the ready before the bird even comes into range. If need be, adjust your final aim when the bird can't see you make the move – use trees or the terrain to cover your movements.

Picture your setup from the bird's perspective. A gobbler's vision must be blocked for you to get away with any kind of movement. Move at the wrong time and the game's over. Wait to move your gun after his head goes behind a tree. Remember, the obstruction has to be nearer to the bird.

If a strutting bird comes in from your blind side, here's another trick. Wait until the bird turns away and his fan blocks his view. Cheek the gun, wait for him to turn around or come out of strut and then fire.

Keep these tips in mind: You'll be a successful hunter and a contributor to the ethics of turkey hunting.




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