“Only four misses this morning,” was the text I received from a turkey-guide buddy one April morning. “But we killed a bird,” was the follow-up.
After dark I spoke with him on the phone, and he ended up with seven misses and two filled tags for his three clients. That season he had clients kill 51 birds with 52 misses. The season prior he had 68 clients put birds on the ground, with a total of 28 misses.
Why so many misses? I believe it comes down to today's specialized turkey shotguns and loads.
Super-magnum, 3½-inch loads, extra, extra full chokes and shotguns designed to deliver power, not thwart recoil, make it difficult for hunters to stay on the gun.
Sacrifice form and you'll miss, especially with shotguns shooting such tight patterns as today's turkey guns.
How can you overcome misses?
Practice helps, but these guns pack such a punch not many people want to shoot them very many times.
The best remedy I've found is to equip the shotgun with a reflex sight.
A 1x, red-dot, reflex sight ensures you'll stay on the gun and maintain follow through.
I know several turkey guides throughout the West who now have such guns ready and insist their clients shoot them. Upon reaching camp they'll have the client take a couple practice shots on a turkey target, then they are confident and ready. Their miss-to-kill ratios have improved, which ultimately saves them time and money.
Outfitting your own shotgun with a reflex sight is easy. Be sure to get a rail that's low profile so your cheek stays tight to the comb when shooting; if not, the recoil can numb the mouth. I know, I've done it.
Also, look for a reflex sight that has a small red dot, preferably one you can adjust the size. This will keep the dot from covering up the head of an approaching tom, especially if taking a shot at 40 yards or more. My sight of choice is the Trijicon RMR, something I've taken many turkeys with around the country.
Be sure to sight in the reflex sight as you would a rifle.
Get a solid shooting bench and a Caldwell Lead Sled and you'll be able to shoot several rounds through the gun. Test at least three turkey loads to see which one patterns best in your shotgun.
After doing all this, you'll be rewarded with more hits as long as you maintain good shooting form.