5 Excuses and the Truth: Why You Missed Turkeys This Season

By author of Turkey Blog with Steve Hickoff

It's no fun to whiff on birds and here's why you did

Missing turkeys is part of the game.

All veteran turkey hunters have been there, and if you haven't yet, brace yourself. It hurts. Memories of that strutter stepping up into range – and the 10 inches of swinging beard running off after you pull your shotgun's trigger – will haunt you in the middle of the night. The experience may make you obsessed with that particular turkey. You may feel the strong, overpowering need to redeem. Or to just go bass fishing to simply avoid the sting of defeat.

© John Hafner photo

Even then though, as your rod bends on that tail-dancing bucketmouth, the turkey you missed will creep into the edge of your thoughts. Will I lose this fish, too?

Turkey hunting buds may even avoid your bad-luck self. No, seriously, a turkey hunter in a slump due to missing a bird (or birds) is a mess. It's no fun for anybody. Here's why you missed that gobbler standing in range.

And the truth behind why might not make you feel better.

Click through this blog gallery to see how you can fix this problem for the next time.


Shotgun Patterning

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1 | Shotgun Patterning

Excuse: "I don't know how I missed that gobbler, it was standing right there."

The Truth: Failure to pattern your gun and load. You know how to load and shoot your shotgun, but haven't a clue as to how the shell you're using patterns on a turkey head and neck. To acquire this essential information, in addition to actually shooting a lot, read this:

How to Pattern Your Turkey Hunting Shotgun

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Target Panic

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2 | Target Panic

Excuse: "That big gobbler stepped into view so fast I missed."

The Truth: Target panic. A wild turkey gobbler in full strut at close range (under 40 steps) is an amazing thing. After watching your own turkey decoys in front of you – and the green fields around it for hours – the sight of the real thing might just take your breath away. That big red, white and blue head, with its beady, black eyes bearing down on you and your fakes, is truly wild and intense. You may just fall apart and turn to jelly. And miss.

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Bad Positioning

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3 | Bad Positioning

Excuse: "I was all twisted up like a pretzel and couldn't shoot right."

The Truth: Bad positioning causes many a miss. Turkeys can come in from behind, from the side and straight into your sights. You have got to be ready for all scenarios. You've pretty much got to envision possible shots before each one emerges in the field. Shooting from difficult positions, after patterning your shotgun under fixed conditions, may help.

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Gear Fails

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4 | Gear Fails

Excuse: "I pulled the trigger but the gun wouldn't go off."

The Truth: Gear failure happens to all of us. It's almost as painful as a miss to have a gobbler in range, fooled into that killing zone, only to have a trigger-pull fail you. It happens, just ask any veteran. The key is to keep your shotgun clean and ready for the hunt. This goes for turkey calls, decoy stakes, pop-up blind working parts and so on. Be ready. Don't miss out.

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Stuff Happens

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5 | Stuff Happens

Excuse: "I took my best shot and that turkey ran off into the next county."

The Truth: Turkey hunting is hard. It takes time, years of experience, a fair amount of suffering and steady effort. The wild turkey has an uncanny ability for escaping situations that seem like sure bets for a kill. Deal with it. Accept it. Now lighten up. 

Misses are part of the deal. There's even something memorable about those experiences, too. With time – and future gobblers you will kill cleanly added to the score – missing turkeys will become stories you share with others who have been there.

Don't turkey hunt with a shotgun? Check this out:

5 Reasons You're Missing Turkeys with a Bow

Go here for more Realtree turkey hunting. Follow us on Facebook.

Editor's note: This Realtree.com evergreen post was first published May 8, 2017.

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