Essential Outdoor Skill: Close a Gobbler

Photo by John & Vikki Trout/Windigo Images

Your heart races, your hands shake, and your pulse pounds. That gobbler is really coming in. Close the deal with this five-step checklist.

1. Tone it Down: Calling aggressively during his approach will spook a gobbler. Turkeys naturally talk softer and less when they're close to one another. If you keep pounding it out, the gobbler will get suspicious. Make soft purrs, rolls, and clucks on a mouth call, but use the call sparingly. Be coy.

2. Slow and Steady: A crafty gobbler will throw you a curve on his final approach. Be prepared to shift your gun position, and perhaps your entire body. Never quick-draw with a tom--you'll lose. Instead, shift slowwwly and steadily, and only when the bird is moving, or his head is behind a tree or tail fan.

3. Tuck In: Nestle right into your gun's stock. Most errant shots on turkeys fly high because the shooter failed to sight right down the barrel. It's tempting to try to peek to see the bird flop. Don't do it.

4. Double Aim: Haste creates misses. Take time to recheck your sighting plane before pulling the trigger. If you use two beads, make sure they're lined up and on the right spot. If you use a scope with a dot or crosshairs, make sure the aiming point is centered where you want it.

5. Secure Him: Do everything right and you'll pound that bird. Cycle in another shell and train your sights on him during the flopping. Once that's quieted, stand up, check your safety, and walk to the bird, ready to shoot again if necessary.