He stood only 45 yards away in a small clearing where he had spent the entire morning strutting and gobbling. Shooting hours for the day were coming to a close and I knew the time was now or never. I let out a soft yelp and as he raised his head I squeezed the trigger.
“Larry Long Spurs” was my arch nemesis during the 2005 and 2006 spring season and I hunted him almost every chance I could get. He didn’t always roost on our farm, and he wouldn’t gobble every morning, but on this particular hunt I had been lucky enough to roost him the night before. I was waiting for him the next morning when I heard his first gobble ring out breaking the morning silence. Being a novice turkey hunter in those days I made a few mistakes that I paid dearly for. The first mistake was my original setup. I had setup too far back and had to use the entire morning to crawl within range.
The second mistake, a mistake that to this day upsets me; I didn’t test my gear before heading into the woods. In those days I weighed 120 pounds soaking wet but I wouldn’t allow anyone, especially my friends, to think I was too small for a 3 ½” turkey load. I was a little man with way too much gun power, so there was nothing pleasant about shooting my turkey gun at anything other than turkeys! That is where I went wrong. I let the fear of getting kicked by the gun prevent me from patterning my gun. I had found a cheap box of shells in a catalog and bought them to use on turkeys. When I hit the woods to hunt a turkey I wanted more than any other bird before, I had no idea how my shotgun patterned. BIG MISTAKE!
As turkeys scattered and I gathered myself from the initial shock of the gun blast, I jumped to my feet and ran to the opening where he had been standing. I found nothing: no Larry Long Spurs, no feathers, and no more faith in my shooting ability. I had blown the only chance I would get at him and all I could do was wonder what went wrong. Returning to our cabin I decided to shoot my shotgun and see what kind of pattern I was shooting. I can summarize my findings by saying that at 45 yards a beach ball would have had a good chance of survival.
Today, not a season goes by that I don’t take the time to pattern my shotgun. All fear of being kicked into submission is gone now that I use the Caldwell Stable Table and Lead Sled. No more are the days of leaning against a tree and hoping I could get the results I wanted before shooting more than a few times. Patterning my shotgun went from being a dreaded activity, to an enjoyable time in preparation of the upcoming season. Top that off with Winchester Double X turkey ammo and now I have complete faith in my gear every hunt.
It’s that time of year to get out and pattern those shotguns! Don’t make the same mistakes I did! Always remember to be safe and good luck turkey hunting!
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