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Steve Comus – GUN TALK

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Dickinson Commando XX3T Turkey Shotgun

Gobble, Gobble
Where do you aim at a poised gobbler?

This is the peak of the spring turkey season, which means there is still time to bag a big gobbler.

Sometimes I get questions from other hunters that are important for them, but which I have forgotten to include in the discussion. This came to mind recently when I was prepping a young lady for her first turkey hunt. We had talked about the need to put multiple pellets in the head at distance when she replied: “But where do I aim?” Great question.

AIMING POINT FOR a wild turkey is shown here on a Birchwood Casey target as a dot on the neck about midway between the head and body of the bird. The Dickinson turkey gun is ready to put the pattern right where it needs to be.

First, it is necessary to establish exactly where the gun is shooting. It needs to be shooting to the point of aim. Playing Kentucky windage with a shotgun pellet swarm can get dicey in a hurry.

Her gun was shooting where she was looking, so the answer was simple: The aiming point needs to be on the neck midway between the head and the body. That assures that the most pellets will hit the head/neck area because the pattern will be equally above and below the aiming point. Depending on the size of the pattern at distance, such an aiming point also might catch the lungs or heart, as well. Generally speaking, any pellets to the main body of the turkey probably won’t do a lot of damage at distance, however.

As we went through the normal drill of what to do and what not to do, it became obvious that there was more interest in some of my off-the-cuff observations than other things.

For example, don’t sit on or near an anthill. Or, when there is enough light, be aware of any snakes in the area. One time, I had one crawl across the toe of my boot as I sat like a statue while a reluctant Tom was trying to decide whether to come to the call.

Situational awareness is more important in turkey hunting than in most other forms of hunting because the birds are so keenly aware of their surroundings. That means a lot more than just not making any unnecessary moves when set up. It is tremendously more important when moving from one spot to another.

For example, there may be no action at the spot of a setup, yet there is some evidence that there are some birds, say, 100 yards or so over a slight ridge to the right.

It is tempting to B-line toward that area to set up again, but that often blows everything, because it is not uncommon for there to be other birds between the initial setup and where the distant birds seem to be. In such instances, and they are common, the impatient hunter busts the close birds, who, in turn, bust the more distant ones, blowing everything.

Wild turkeys aren’t smart, but they are, extremely cautious and aware. Consider how many eyes and ears there are in a single flock. It only takes one eye or one ear to detect danger, and the jig’s up.

Common sense is important in turkey hunting. That and a little luck go a long way. Be deliberate. Be slow. Be successful.

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Steve Comus is a nationally recognized hunting editor with Safari Club International and a former WON Guns and Hunting Editor. His column appears every other week in WON and he can be reached at

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