Two Turkeys With One Shell, and an Arrow...Sort of...
Hardcore turkey hunters will probably not appreciate my method of turkey hunting or the fact that I took young birds. But with only one bird to my credit life to date at the time of the hunt, I was thrilled to take any turkeys that I could legally harvest, so here is the story of how I took two birds with one shell…well and an arrow, but that hardly counts.
The opening weekday of the fall season saw me with my granddad’s shotgun and the same box of shells that had earned me my first turkey this past spring. Fall turkey hunting coincides with archery for deer in the northern zone. And since my commute carries me through a portion of northern zone in Saratoga County, I was carrying my bow as well as the shotgun.
I passed a flock of turkeys. Two or three large hens and at least eight young birds from the spring hatching picked grass off the shoulder of the road. I turned into the first intersection and took my bow out of the case and lay an arrow at hand and drove slowly back toward the flock. I eased the car off the road and as close to them as I dared. When I stepped out the birds began to walk unhurriedly away. Stepping clear of the car I reached for my bow and followed across the grassy field. When I got within 30 yards, I let fly my first arrow at game. It was a clean miss at 30 yards and the flock began to trot for the tree line.
I might have been able to get off another arrow before they disappeared, but trotting back to the car, I reached for the shotgun instead. I laid the bow down, broke the action and pushed two of the big green shells into the cavernous 12 gauge. Snapping the action closed, I quick timed after the birds as they began to get into cover on the far end of the open field. I was able to close the distance by ten yards because they were all trying to use the same path to get into the brush. They were literally running into each other and bouncing off the thick low bushes. The birds in back needed to wait for those in front to clear the entry into the undergrowth before they could get under cover. As I closed the distance the flock began to break up and the larger birds pushed in or found their way around the bottleneck. When it was clear that I was fast running out of time to get a shot at any of them in the open, I thumbed the safety forward and brought the gun to shoulder. With only two birds in the open and two tails fast disappearing I fired the right hand barrel with the forward trigger. The shot knocked the two young birds in the rear flat. One was stone cold dead with a pellet through the brain. The other flopped as I approached holding the second barrel in reserve in case he regained his feet. Instead I snapped on the safety, took the bird by the feet and clubbed it into quiet oblivion with a handy stick.
Even though I liked the bow’s ability to fire silently, it simply can’t compare with the effectiveness of the shotgun. I was again impressed with the 12 gauge’s ability to definitively settle the accounts, this time scoring two birds with one shell at +/- 30 yards.
When I got home, my son helped me dress out the pair of +/- 10 lb birds. We were so eager to get started that we forgot to weigh them or take pictures. He watched me dress out the first and did most of the second himself. I was impressed with the 9 year old’s willingness to get his hands dirty. Both birds had been hit in their near side leg but those were not lethal wounds. The first bird down was brain shot with a single pellet through the skull. The second bird had a single pellet pass through his back just under the spine and come to rest in the skin of the far side. This was the only piece of bright copper shot recovered from both birds. I wonder if that was a lethal wound or if the bird was just knocked down from the shock of impact and might have later recovered. I brought the birds to my in-laws for roasting. My father in law was beyond the state of health where he will hunt again, but we enjoyed the taste of wild turkey with potatoes and late green beans harvested from my garden that morning.
On a recent morning I counted eight birds grazing along within yards of the spot that I took their fellows from. I’m already looking forward to returning to that meadow next spring.
I’m eager to take the next bird, but I may give the shotgun a rest as I would still like to take my next bird with either my bow or with my smooth bore flintlock. It would be the first game taken with either of those and now that the old gun has three birds to its credit in my hands it seems only fair let another have a turn. I just might pack it along for back up though. The flintlock is after all, a single shot and I just may need a quick follow up shot again.