Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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Missing a gobbler: It happened today, and it will probably happen again

I missed a turkey today. Yeah, I know, it happens. But as usual, I’m pretty much inconsolable.

Yes, it has happened before – I’ve been in the game long enough to have missed gobblers in five states, lacking only an Osceola for a Grand Slam of misses. And it will happen again. But I’d rather miss a shot at a big buck than ruin a spring morning by blowing it at the moment of truth.

There was nothing unusual about this miss. It was pretty much the standard misjudging of the distance; the longbeard ducked behind an old hickory tree and when he finally emerged he had angled away from me and stretched the yardage a bit. By then, however, my brain had given me the green light and I was unable to shake that thought and I took the shot.

My almost immediate Facebook confession led to a host of responses, including several by fellow turkey hunters who had done the same thing that very morning. Among the day’s misses was one from a longtime friend in the Adirondacks, who later connected on a longbeard at another spot.

I managed to salvage the morning by uniting with a hunting buddy and calling in a longbeard to his gun; it was a great hunt and a fun time being together in the turkey woods again because it happens so rarely these days. He’s typically hunting with his son – who killed a longbeard earlier that morning – while I’m out with Paula.

I suppose if turkeys gobbled all year long and we hunted them year ‘round we’d become a bit more comfortable with the excitement level and adrenaline rush brought on by a thunderous gobble from an approaching longbeard. But they don’t, and we can’t, so we try to deal with the high-tension situation as best we can. But you really can’t prepare for it beyond patterning your gun, watching your movement, keeping your head down and following through on the shot.

But that excitement is the very reason we arise in the middle of the night and head out into the turkey woods. Without that, chances are we’d sleep in and, when we did have a shot at a longbeard, we would casually execute the shot without a lot of heart thumping.

I can’t imagine a turkey hunt without that. It’s been that way with me for over 40 years, and chances are I still have a few misses left in me. I hate to think about that, but I’ve come to understand it.

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