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The downside of not knowing any better

On the weekend, I received a call from a friend of mine who just harvested his first wild turkey.

“How did the hunt go?” I asked. “Did it take long for you to call it in? Did it come to your decoys?”

“I didn’t call or use decoys,” he replied. “I just walked up to it and shot it.”

He then explained that he was hunting on a huge southern Ontario farm when he saw a wild turkey strutting about a kilometre away across the fields. Most people at this point would have closed the distance a little, and then set up and tried to call it in. My friend didn’t know any better, so he decided to simplify things by walking across an open field of knee-high grass, within full view of the turkey, get within gun range, and shoot it.

“Interesting,” I said. “How close did you get before you shot it?”

“Ten yards,” he replied.

“So, you walked 990 metres across an open field to a turkey that clearly saw you and then, when you got to 10 yards away, shot it?”

“Yes,” he said. “That seemed close enough.”

Before you get all upset with my friend for walking up to a bird in an open field and shooting it, let me just say two things: first he was certain it wasn’t a decoy because he was the only one with permission on the property and he watched it with his binoculars several times. Second, he didn’t know that turkeys aren’t supposed to let you do this. Ever.

For the record, I have now called in seven gobblers to within gun or bow range this season without once getting a single shot because of terrain or the direction they came in from. The last two came within 10 yards but I was using a recurve bow that time and there was too much brush in the way for a shot.  The good news is I did things right.

So to recap: my friend who is new to turkey hunting walked up to a turkey until he got to point blank range and then he shot it. Meanwhile, I, an experienced turkey hunter, have called in several birds within gun or bow range, and not yet got a shot.

After he showed me the photos of the bird he shot, I was considering giving him advice on how to shoot a bird, but somehow it didn’t seem like the right thing to do. I mean he is new at it and I don’t feel like I should blow his mind with the advanced tactics that I have used so far this year. He’s just not ready for them. But, by God, if he walks up to his second bird in the same way, I’ll tell him what he is doing wrong.

OK, 1,000 metres? Really. A mature and apparently healthy gobbler watched an armed man approach it directly in the open over a 1,000-metre field? He said he wasn’t even trying to be quiet.

Frankly, this is the kind of thing that makes a hunter who knows what he’s doing hate turkeys. Regardless, I’m truly happy for my friend and I’m glad he was able to take home a delicious game bird and good memories.

But in a way I also feel really sorry for him.

I mean, it must really suck not to know anything about turkey hunting.

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