Shooting Turkeys On The Wing

You’ve called that strutting gobbler into range, aimed at his fist-sized noggin’, and fired. Problem is, that bird flopped then got up like a boxer in the ring with some fight left in him, and is flying off. It’s your move, now or never. That knockout punch you threw failed to deliver.

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 wing is the only option, especially after missed chances, or worse yet, when that bird is wounded. Shooting flying turkeys is almost always a Plan B option. Still there are ways to do it right.

Speed Rules: 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, its wild black eye—and hit that intended target with a steady action.

Point It Out: 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.

Shooting Positions: Chances are you're sitting if you've called a gobbler into range. As 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.

React, Don't Think: Mount the shotgun. Find the target. Pull the trigger. Now tag that gobbler.

One turkey hunter to another now: Have you Strut Zoners ever shot a flying turkey?

—Steve Hickoff