Hunt Turkeys, Not Turkey Hunters
In recent weeks I have talked about turkey hunting as the spring season gets closer. I have also talked about selecting a shotgun, in case you don’t already have one. And last weekend I went to the area I hope to hunt this spring and did some scouting, so it’s all coming together for the season that opens on April 13th this year. It’s now almost the end of February, and I want to revisit this topic.
Regarding shotgun selection, I bought a nice new shotgun last weekend (the wait time for background checks has been cut from 7 days to a half an hour). It is a Mossberg 535 which is a waterfowl/turkey combo gun that came with two easily interchangeable barrels. This is really nice because the turkey barrel is 22” with a 1 ½” choke, which will deliver a turkey load accurately out to 40 yards. The barrel also has luminescent sights which capture the faintest bit of light and give a clear site to your target. The waterfowl barrel is 28” and came with all the chokes I might need. While anyone of my other shotguns would have been fine for turkey hunting, I wanted to try a shotgun with a full camo pattern, and Mossberg partnered with Mossy Oak camo patterns and did a really nice job on this gun.
As with all Mossbergs that I have owned, this one is a fine piece of equipment at an affordable price. I haven’t shot it yet, but working the pump action and shouldering the gun is all very smooth. I added a shoulder sling to this gun, which will come in handy for hiking in the woods or out to a duck blind. I can’t wait to get out and shoot this gun, it just feels nice.
As I have written about before, scouting is one of the keys to success for harvesting a turkey, and I will go out scouting a few more times before the season starts. It is important to learn the terrain of where you will be hunting, including finding the essential pieces of habitat, like a water source within a quarter mile, sufficient vegetation for food, and signs of the birds themselves. It really helps to check your state’s wildlife management website for information about turkey hunting to find harvest statistics, public land boundaries, and a wealth of other information. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife website is excellent for providing information in my state.
The last thing I want to talk about today is safety. Nationally, of about three million turkey hunters, one hundred are injured each year by being shot by another hunter. This is mostly due to the fact that turkey hunters are heavily camouflaged, but that is really no excuse. The truth is that you have to always be sure of your shot, no matter what you are hunting or even when target shooting. It never ceases to amaze me to hear stories about people who shoot other people because they didn’t see them, or heard a sound and pointed and shot. There is absolutely no excuse for that. Know your target, know what is behind it, and don’t shoot unless you are sure that you won’t hit anything you shouldn’t. It’s that simple.
I was nearly shot once while fishing on a mountain stream by someone firing a semi-automatic gun from a mountain side. I don’t know what they were shooting at, but they weren’t paying attention to where their bullets were going, and two bullets whizzed by my head and hit the water fifteen feet behind me. I could hear the buzz of the bullets going through the air and instinctively turned my head away, like that would have helped. That’s when I saw the ripples in the water where the bullets hit, it wasn’t a pleasant feeling, and they almost hit my dog. I yelled some expletives at the top of my lungs, and there were no more shots after that.
The point is when you are firing a gun, a bow, or a crossbow, always know where your bullets or arrows may end up. If you see daylight behind a target, don’t shoot at it, because that means you can’t see where your projectile will land if it misses.
More to come on turkey hunting!