Turkey Hunting: How to Tag a Gobbler You Just Missed

By author of Turkey Blog with Steve Hickoff

If You Missed a Turkey, Try Again

You’ve called a strutting spring gobbler into range, aimed at his fist-sized head and fired. 

© John Hafner photo

Problem is, the bird flopped then got up like a boxer in the ring with some fight left in him, and is running, or worse: flying off. It’s your move, now or never.

Most of the time, it’s best to call a wild turkey into range, and squeeze off a shot aimed at the standing bird’s head and neck. You’ve tried that. You’ve failed.

Though it’s not the best way to anchor a spring gobbler, there are situations when taking a turkey on the run or wing are the only options, especially after missed chances, or worse yet, when that bird is wounded.

Shooting running or flying turkeys is almost always a Plan-B option. Some ways to do it right:

  1. You missed the first time. The gobbler is running away. Calmly find the target again. Pull the trigger. Dead bird.
  2. Chances are you’re sitting if you’ve called a gobbler into range. If it flushes, maneuver your body for stability the best you can to make that shot. Stand up if the crippled bird is laboring off then drop it. If you are standing, shoot that flushing turkey as you might other upland birds, but avoid body shots.
  3. When a gobbler flushes, you’ve got just seconds to deliver the payload. Shoulder the shotgun smoothly but swiftly, stock to cheek. Keep your head down. Track that big bird. Find the neck and head in your sight picture — better yet, the wild black eye — and hit your intended target with a steady action.
  4. Right-handed wingshooters often hold their left index finger along the shotgun’s forend to point at the target as they shoulder the firearm. (Southpaws reverse this.) Practice this when shooting sporting clays or other flying upland birds, and you’ll be ready if the moment presents itself while turkey hunting.

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