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7 Tips for Pattern Perfection
Every year, millions of hunters flock to the hardwoods, bottomlands, rolling hills, pine forests and numerous other landscapes in pursuit of the wild turkey. And, every year, some of them walk out of the hunt with a hollow feeling of disgust, because they missed their turkey.
Though there’s nothing these folks can do about the past, they can do something to keep from missing their shot in the future. Being prepared, knowing their firearms, and spending a little time on the shooting range can, and will, remedy shooting problems that have humbled many turkey hunters.
Knowing how your shotgun patterns is only part of the equation to having a successful turkey hunt. But it is a very important part. Practicing the shot before the hunt will leave you confident with your shooting abilities, and you’ll be able to focus on other important parts of the hunt.
Try these helpful hints from NWTF experts to help make sure the next time the opportunity presents itself, you walk out of the woods with a turkey over your shoulder.
By Nancy Rodriguez
Cough, snort, wheeze! Cough, snort, wheeze! With every track my boots leave in the snow, I find myself using my very own custom call to locate my quarry. You may think I am somewhere in the Midwest hunting whitetail deer, but I am far from it. I’m actually high in the mountains of Nevada, hunting elk. My very own custom call is not tucked in my pocket or hanging around my neck. It’s in fact my body’s lungs and nose that are making these calls. My custom wheeze and cough are thanks to a bout of bronchitis and my custom snort is a congested nose caused by a sinus infection. Some might say I shouldn’t be out hunting right now. I should be home sitting by the fire with a humidifier plugged in, eating oranges. But, does that sound like something a Prois chick would do? No way! It’s elk season!
I continue to trudge through the golden grass and glistening snow covered mountains in search of the majestic wapiti. With my rifle slung over my shoulder and my backpack weighing me down, I glass every nook and cranny for the distinct tan colored body with the dark chocolate neck. As I slowly climb to a high vantage point, my nose is completely plugged and my lungs burn. I giggle to myself at the advice my doctor gave me right before we left for this hunting trip, “You need to take these antibiotics, use this inhaler, drink plenty of liquids, and above all rest!” He must have sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher, because obviously I didn’t comprehend a word he said. Prois chicks can be rebels after all!
With my heart pounding in my head, I am grateful to have finally made it to my vantage point. I drop my pack and plop on the ground. I endlessly hack into my Prois neck gaiter and realize it not only keeps my neck warm, but it also works as a great handkerchief. Through watery eyes, I glass the distant hillsides. Suddenly, out of extremely thin mountain air, I spot them. Unmistakable brown dots of bedded elk are scattered amongst the patches of snow. I spot about 40 of them and my blood starts coursing through my veins. Joe looks at me and asks, “Are you up for this? They’re pretty far away.” I blow my red rimmed nose and reply “Heck ya! That’s what we’re here for!” And so the stalk begins. The elk are a couple miles away, and I know this hike is going to be grueling for me. Up and down the massive ridges we go. Cough, snort, wheeze…Repeat! My body becomes weaker, but I trudge on. The mountain wind is becoming fickle and starts swirling about. I pray it doesn’t blow my stalk. As we start to get close enough for a shot, I grab my range finder to check the distance. My nose is so plugged; I feel claustrophobic. I bring a tissue to my face and realize I have snotcicles hanging from my nose. With these custom beauties, I am sure I could give Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber a run for his money! I giggle again at what I must look like right now. But, I have more important things at hand and I need to get a bit closer for a shot. As I start to close the distance, it happens. A huge gust of wind smacks me in the back and I know my funky human scent is about to alert the elk that something’s not right. Poof! They are up and off to the next ridge in the blink of an eye. Cough, snort, wheeeeeze!
That night we camp under the starry sky in below freezing temperatures. I have so many layers of fleece on that I can barely bend my arms and legs. My Prois Sherpa beanie is pulled down over my eyes and my neck gaiter is covering my mouth. With a Breathe Right strip over my red chapped nose, I shimmy down into my 3 sleeping bags. No joke…3! As I drift off into my Nyquil, Theraflu, and cough drop induced slumber, the elbowing begins. Joe is trying to stop his precious wife from turning into a mighty snoring Ogre, but he doesn’t have a chance against the cold medicine coma! The beast lying next to him is some sort of Michelin man fleece troll, wrapped up like a goose down burrito. A weird strip of plastic lies across her nose and grizzly bear size snores are coming out of her mouth. He stares at the fleece monster lying next to him and wonders where has his wife gone? He doesn’t have a spare room to move to, or a couch he can crash on in the living room. He is trapped next to the beast! It’s going to be a long night for him…poor guy.
The next day, I wake up feeling refreshed and well rested. I stretch, remove the plastic strip from my nose, and actually feel better than I have in days. I look at Joe who can hardly open his eyes and wonder if he slept okay? As I jump out of my burrito and throw on my head to toe Prois camo, I am ready to hunt! I stare at Joe as he peels open his eyes and looks at me. For some reason I don’t think he’s nearly as refreshed as I am. I resemble a happy dog anxiously waiting for their owner to grab the leash for their daily walk. If I could, I’d be wagging my tail with excitement! Come on, come on, let’s gooooo!!!!!
We get into elk over the next few days, but unfortunately I never connect. It really didn’t matter, because we had an awesome time climbing the mountains and enjoying the beauty of the great outdoors. There is nothing better for your mind, body, spirit, and immune system than becoming one with nature. I have truly found the best medicine on the market…Hunting!
After having the time of our lives this past fall at Double B Outfitters on our ladies Prois Whitetail hunt the crazy ladies of Prois once again descended on the sleepy and utterly unprepared town Ozona for another incredible hunt. This was by far my favorite guided hunt to date. My trusty guide Blake Osteen was happy to hike with me for miles daily in pursuit of thunder chickens. I enjoy an active spot and stalk style of hunting so Blake was the perfect match for me. He is an excellent caller and I learned so much about turkey hunting from him.
Prior to this hunt I had yet to bag a turkey although I had hunted the last 4 years although only for a weekend at a time and nowhere that had the density of birds that Double B Outfitters boasts. While hunting with Double B Outfitters I heard and saw more turkeys than I had in all my previous hunts combined. Furthermore my calling was enough to make the bravest Tom turn tail and run. Luckily I got a lot of practice calling in this hunt much to the chagrin of everyone trying to relax at the lodge. On future hunts I will be driven a least a mile out from the lodge before I am allowed to use a diaphragm call.
On the second day of the hunt we were hiking while Blake was calling periodically and suddenly we heard a gobble extremely close to us. We had to post up right where we were when we realized we were covered by two groups of Toms. One group was coming in from behind us and one group was on the hill above and in front of us. We dropped down to a seated position, Blake handed me a shooting stick, and I got in the best position I could given the circumstances. Suddenly I saw the colorful heads of two different Toms on the hill and began to shake and breathe hard in my excitement. I started to draw up my shotgun but Blake whispered words of reassurance and told me to stay still and wait as he couldn’t see the birds well enough yet. The Toms were milling about and gobbling behind some brush and an occasional glimpse of their bright blue, red, and white heads was all I could see. The group that was coming in from behind us gobbled loudly and was converging on us at that same time. Blake spotted a good Tom and my opportunity for a shot and told me to shoot when I was ready. I drew up as my heart was beating a million miles an hour and shot. Blake told me I missed as three Toms from the group that approached behind us took flight over my left shoulder. Without thinking I swung, shot, and dropped a Tom mid-flight. I couldn’t believe it as I saw the Tom I shot at drop from the air like a ton of bricks. I leapt up with shot gun in hand and ran to the Tom lying on the ground. Blake approached the scene and was excitedly laughing and grinning ear to ear at my shot and frenzied run up to my Tom.
Instinct took over for my last shot and I could not believe that I had my first Tom on the ground. The flood of emotions including elation, gratitude, and excitement I felt in that moment was overwhelming. It was such and incredible hunt. Blake had never guided someone that had shot a turkey in the air and was so excited for me and surprised that I had turned and shot at the flying birds before he had a chance to say anything to me. He was still looking toward the bird I had shot at to make sure it was a clear miss when he turned as I shot and saw my Tom falling from the air.
Although the Tom I shot was smaller than the first bird I missed, I wouldn’t change a moment. That hunt built my confidence and I was much calmer when I shot my second Tom, an older Tom that was later nicknamed Rocky as he was a fighter and was missing tail feathers and his wings were all beat up from strutting and fighting. That was a more ideal scenario where I was posted up in a good spot and the Toms came in right where we expected them to.
Not only was the hunting incredible at Double B Outfitters but the group of ladies that attended were fantastic. We laughed until our sides ached, and shared many delicious meals at the lodge lovingly prepared by Kendra and Linda. The lodge was comfortable and well appointed, the weather was perfect, and a fantastic time was had by all. The guides were superb and we made memories together that will last a lifetime. We cannot wait to go back there for our next Prois and Double B Outfitters hunt in Ozona TX.
It’s turkey time and the NWTF never lets us down with great tips from the pros! Not sure when to use the decoys you have? With the help from Montana Decoy Co. we bring you three decoy set-ups, corresponding to the phases of the rut, to help you take down a turkey this spring season.
Learn Pre-Breeding, Peak-Breading and Post-Breeding Decoy set-up methods!
Prois staffer, Kelly Cohen, took a beautiful gobbler this weekend! Chalk another one up to the ladies of Prois Hunting Apparel.
“Got out to do a little turkey hunting and it was a successful morning!!!! This is probably the prettiest turkey I’ve ever taken. You can bet this will be a full mount on my wall.”