Are long distance shots a good thing?

From Old

Are long distance shots a good thing, or a bad thing for turkey hunting?
« on: February 18, 2015, 08:42:58 PM »

I know on another forum that I am on for deer hunting there are some people who mention taking longer shots at deer with their bow (Long being past 30-40 yards.). While doing some research to try to get better at turkey hunting, I have noticed talk of 60-70+ yard shots. Now, I know enough to know that, in the past, 30 or so was the max on a turkey. Since then, shotguns, chokes, ammo, etc… have evolved and been improved. Do you think it is going to help or hurt turkey hunting in the long run if people keep trying to stretch out their maximum range on a turkey? I, personally, enjoy being close the deer, or in this case turkey, without them knowing I am there. It seems to be what makes it exciting for me. I just feel that if you want to take a long shot on an animal, you may as well be using a rifle (Not legal for turkey where I hunt anyways.).

So, what do you guys and gals think? Keep trying to extend the range, or keep it close?

Here is my answer:


Here I go again, sounding like one of those dried up old school turds.  I’m not.  I just sound like one, because I can still remember.

Back when I started turkey hunting in the early 80’s, nobody talked about 3.5″ shells, hevi-shot, screw-in chokes and all that other stuff.  I can still remember the advice I got:

1) You got a trap gun?  Good, use that.
2) Anything with a full or modified (!) choke will work
3)  Get some #4 high brass.  If that does not print well, try something between #2 and #6

The way I was told to figure out what your maximum shooting distance was as follows:

1) Set up Dixie cups on a stick. 8 should be enough
2) Start at 10 yards. Shoot a round at a dixie cup.
3) Back up 5 yards and shoot the next cup
4) Repeat
5) The last cup that has 2 pellets through represents your maximum shooting distance.

Anything past 20 yards was worthy of  being a turkey gun.   My Dad’s Model 12 trap gun did it quite well, so that is what I took on my first turkey trip.  I bought 2 boxes of #4 Remington Nitro Buffered Magnums for $8 bucks apiece. I still have some of them left.

So if you are looking for how turkey hunting was meant to be before the ammo companies, shotgun companies, magazine publishers, cable networks,  and the marketing companies started turning turkey hunting into a cargo cult, there you have it.

Oh, by the way, I left out the main culprit:  us. We kept going to the store and looking for that special edge. We did not have the time to go out scouting every day.  We could only hunt a few days a year back then.  We wanted that extra few yards, and we were willing to pay for it.

Now, do you really want the truth about how much gun you need?  It’s easy. Nobody likes it. I can truthfully say it is my least favorite contribution to the sport– less appreciated than my cover scent gum for deer hunters.

The Working Comfort Zone

If you bother to wade through it, you will see that I am trying to get folks to actually focus on the shots they have made, or would have taken as a benchmark for making decisions about shotguns, loads, chokes, and whatever for turkey.  I got a lot of flak from folks, telling me I was trying to tell them how far to shoot.  Quite the contrary, I was trying to get to folks to focus on their own history, rather than what a magazine had told them.  I was trying to  say that although we may spend the season getting ready for 60 yard shots, we may only ever take 25 yard shots.  My other point was to actually sit down and do the ciphering, because we  grossly inflate the need for distance.  Our own pride and the marketing folks have taught us that.

Me?  If you had asked me before I did the figuring, I would have estimated my “Working Comfort Zone” was 25 yards.  I hunt in a place that is filled with cedar thickets and the ground is hilly and uneven.  A turkey can easily be 40 yards away and be invisible due to a fold in the terrain or 10 yards away and still be hidden by an oak.  Yep 25 was my number.

14 yards–that was my Working Comfort Zone. I was stunned when I did it for myself.    Please don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying I meant it that way.  I’m not saying you should limit your shots to 14 yards. What I am saying is that everyone thinks about getting out to some long distance, when most hunters actually shoot their birds at much closer ranges.  Sure I’ve taken birds out to 40 yards and beyond.  The point of all this is usually I do not get a chance to shoot until they are much closer.

money they blew on ammo and chokes back during sighting in.

I’m looking back now on 30-some years of turkey hunting in several states.  I’m thinking of all the turkeys I’ve shot at, or put my gun to.  You can throw out the 65 yard panic shot I took in 2005, or the 80 yard shot I took at the gobbler back in 2011, because I misjudged the distance.  There are probably a couple more there that I’d like to take mulligans on if I thought this out more completely.   I can think of one honest bird taken at exactly 40 yards, and a couple at 30, and all the rest have been climbing up my legs. I don’t  mean this as a boast .   I don’t think I’m that good of a caller. That’s just how it is.

I  have  watched a few come from over 200 yards out across the field, and I took them at 15 yards, but I’ve had probably a dozen or more poke their heads out inside 10 yards and it was the first I had seen or heard of them.  If you take the entire body of my turkey hunting career. I could have taken all but one bird with my original rig, my Dad’s 12 GA trap gun and high brass #4’s.   90 % could have been taken with a modified choke and #6 squirrel loads.

For a beginner, I would be hesitant to do any real work towards a shotgun that shot more than 40 yards, until I had demonstrable proof I needed such a gun. My son is turning 17 during Opening Week.  He has an Rem 870 Trap and shoots 2 3/4″ and never felt the need for anything bigger.   His last gobbler was nearly pecking at his boot laces when he shot.

It is a rare circumstance when I have a shot at a gobbler hung up at 50 yards, let alone 60 or 70.  That’s not to say I don’t have hunting venues that would afford that kind of shot.  The thing of it is, for most hunters, for most turkeys that get hunted,  ranges past 40 yards are moot.  Either the terrain does not allow it, or the cover does not allow it, or the gobbler is coming in and will keep coming in.   I see guys every year that are touting their long range guns in March, but in May all their kill photos include details  like “. . .took his head off at 10 yards,” “Blew him away at 20 yards,”  etc.   I wonder if they’re disappointed they didn’t kill them farther out for all the




I got hacked, but I’m back

Some miscreant hacked my sites yesterday afternoon, loading malware on 4 of them. My Internet Service Provider saw the hack and shut down the sites and sent me an email. The problem was, I did not see the email and went about my life blithely unaware. I knew the sites were down, but I figured it was a problem affecting everyone.

It was not until I was going to bed that I decided to call Fatcow, the ISP, and ask when they would be back up. Fatcow said it was on my end, and offered me a few alternatives. The easiest was to spring for a subscription to SiteLock, and wait 24 hours.

SiteLock scanned all my sites and removed whatever malware it found. Fatcow let me back into the pool a little while ago, and everything is going along swimmingly. All in all, I’m up a good 12 hours earlier than I was promised.

My apologies for the down time, but the activity here has been the lowest in 6 months the past week anyway. That usually happens as folks put away their deer rifles and go play in the snow before breaking out the shotgun for turkey.


Venison Jerky

This is the time of year where I get to making a serious batches of venison jerky. When I do it, I do it in a big way– about 10 lbs at a time. I figure it is about time I let someone in on my method. This is absolutely the easiest recipe I’ve seen.

First off, I like to use left over roasts and steaks. If I have anything left over from a previous year, this is a great way to use it up. Start off by partially thawing the package. A partially frozen hunk of meat is much easier to cut. I cut strips, slabs, medallions, whatever, about 1/8″ thick. I found an inexpensive meat slicer about 10 years ago, and it revolutionized my jerky making. I think I saw the same model online for $45.

For about 12 lbs of jerky I use one 16 oz bottle of Dales Steak Seasoning or Kroger’s as a marinade. They’re the same thing– same bottle, different label. As I’m cutting, every time a pull a handful of meat off the platter and put it in the tub, I’m sprinkling it with some as I go.

Next, come the dry components. The easiest is to get a big container of Montreal Steak Seasoning and sprinkle it to taste. I could not find a big restaurant size, so I went out looking for a recipe on the Internet. Several sources were all in agreement:

1 spoon of Kosher salt
2 spoons of coarse ground black pepper
2 spoons Paprika
1 spoon Garlic powder
1 spoon Onion powder
1 spoon Coriander
1 spoon red pepper flakes
1 spoon Dill

I ground everything to a powder except the pepper. I like the red pepper flakes showing up on my jerky. A store-bought Montreal Seasoning is all coarsely ground ingredients. I used tablespoons of these ingredients and ended up with what I would call a hot jerky. If I’d used teaspoons, it would have been very mild. If I was using store-bought Montreal Seasoning, I probably would have used 2 oz. This batch used 4 oz of equivalent. The reason being that most of the folks I’ll be sharing this with like hot jerky.

Once everything is put together, I started massaging the meat every half hour for 2 hours. I kept turning it over, separating the big clumps, and making sure the marinade was well distributed. Longer is better, but you have to watch your time. I will explain that in a bit. The meat stays cold if this is done at room temperature. My hands were freezing. Again let me remind you to start with partially frozen cuts. This ensures both easy cutting as well as no spoilage.

I use jerky trays meant for an oven. They cost about $35 for 3 trays and a drip pan. For this batch I used all six wire mesh trays and still had two trays worth of jerky left over. After I loaded the trays, I popped them in the oven, set the oven for the lowest possible setting and then left the door just slightly open.

The process of making a 12 lb batch of jerky is laborious. I started at 10 AM with wrapped frozen cuts and put the trays in the oven at 3:30 in the afternoon. It was 9PM, when I finally turned the oven off and shut the door.

As I mentioned earlier, timing is everything. At 9PM, the jerky was still a few hours away from being perfect. I turned the oven off, because if I had let it go until morning I would have had cinders. I like leather-like jerky– still a bit pliable. This morning, I got up at 5 AM and pulled off most of the top two trays, added the remainder of what I had prepared and put the oven back on. The trick here is not waiting until lunch time to start your jerky making. It would be even better if I had cut my meat on Saturday and let it marinade overnight. However, my schedule would not allow it.

February and March are my favorite jerky making months. I like it cold outside, because then I can store the meat in the garage while it is marinading. It is 10 F right now and snowing. The last thing you want to do is wait until August and try to do a big batch. I have never had a batch go bad, but I used to work at a frozen cheeseburger factory. The raw side of the plant was kept at 40F.


The Shaman Goes Concealed

KYHillChick and I completed our CCI training last weekend. We used Woodhill Training out of Miamitown. I cannot say enough good things about Tom and Chris. They were excellent trainers.

I think one of the most helpful things I can say about the CCW training we received was that most of it was about how to avoid using a weapon. I have spent most of my 50-some years on this planet trying my best to avoid getting into trouble. I was always the big gawky kid who stuck out like a sore thumb. By the time I went to college, I had learned to stay as invisible as possible and avoid problems on the street. A lot of what was taught in this class agreed with what I have learned. It is far better to avoid the situation altogether than to fight your way out.

I learned a few things from the practical range I will share with you. I do not mean to crow about my handgun expertise, I do not claim any great prowess, but I did extremely well on the practical side of the course. However, the instructor beat me up on a few things:

1) I was shooting a Ruger P-90 in 45 ACP. It is a big hand cannon, but I have Johnny Bench hands, so it fits me. It is a Chevrolet kind of pistol. I have always had good service from it. The instructor was on me, because even at rapid fire, I was able to keep them in a pie-plate group. His point was that I was being too precise, and too much of a target shooter. I needed to open up more.
2) From condition 2, the trigger on the P90 is a good weight for self defense as a DA. I doubt I would ever fire the weapon unintentionally. However, succeeding rounds from my P90 are very easy to pull off. The instructor warned me about that. I’m planning on a DA-only revolver Ruger LCR for concealment in the summertime. It has a nice trigger, but it is still 10 lbs or so– you have to really WANT to make that trigger work. The P90 has a light touch.
3) The instructor caught me canting my pistol off to the left side between shots. Yes it’s a habit. In practicing, I was always worried about two things– practicing my target acquisition and also looking to see where the shot had gone. It is a hard thing to turn off. Shoot, Cant, Acquire, Shoot, Cant, Acquire– he told me to rid myself of that habit as soon as possible, otherwise I will do it if I have to shoot someone for real.

It all boils down to needing a lot more practice, even though I am a good accurate handgun shooter.

I’ve a target shooter’s mind and that will require considerable rearrangement. Angie, in the big scheme of things, did almost as good as me with her GP-100. She kept them all on the silhouette. She did not have any major defects in her shooting. She has had a lot less practice, so she had far fewer bad habits.

Some thoughts on CCW in general: First and foremost, do it. Second, find someone who is going to do more than just read the law to you. Chris and Tom at Woodhill went above and beyond, and frankly they could have gone another 12 hours, and I would still be fascinated. A lot of CCW-trained folks I’ve talked to describe their CCW course as a boring formality. Angie and I were stressed and challenged. We had to grow a little to make it through. This is not something you want to bargain shop. I’ve been a shooter and a hunter for most of my adult life, and I came away from this with a lot of new ideas.


I fully repent my ideas on open carry. I have not open carried in public in many years, but I never felt obliged to hide it. I realize that is wrong, given current situations. I do not want to make myself a target. I do not want to cause consternation with those around me. I understand now.

 The Woodhill Practice Range

It is going to sound a little funky, but one of the reasons I took so long getting a CCW was a lack of confidence. It wasn’t that I wouldn’t be able to use a gun to defend myself, or that I would be too eager. The problem for me was not trusting myself to decide an ambiguous situation. The instructors must have picked up on that, because the scenarios they picked for me played on that. In the first instance, Chris came at me without a rubber knife and just left his hands out to the side. My first reaction was that he was trying to come in for a bear hug and I should shoot, then I realized he was just taunting me. I did not fire and I finally gave up and walked off on him. The second time through Chris came at me fast and pulled a knife in just the last few steps. I reacted properly and emptied the magazine.


More on Indiana Deer Rifle Changes

I have some more info on the proposed rule changes that would let Indiana deer hunters use most centerfire rifles starting in 2015.

Pointer, a buddy from has sent me some links. See below:

Here’s the news article:…ed756f6074.html

Here’s a link the Natural Resource Commision website:

Here’s a link to the actual proposed rule change. This does not just deal with rifles, it’s all rules.

From what I understand, the rule change is still up in the air. You can still comment on it:

Comment on Rule

Get going. Let them know what you think. From what I read, the deadline for making the decision to move ahead on this change is in March.


Turkey Opener

Hmmmm. Let’s see if I have this right.


The time is adjusted for Brooksville, KY. You Pendleton County boys might have to add a minute.


Down and Out– Sick for 2 weeks.

Dang. It’s been two weeks. I wish I could say I’ve been up to something, but I really haven’t. Mostly, I’ve been in a daze. Angus brought home a bug from high school. KYHillChick and I have had it. It’s one of those nasty viruses that kind of come and go.

I had a bit of a start when I went to the Turkey and Turkey Hunting Forum. It was all but dead. I knew it was in a bad way when they did not even finish off last year’s gobbler contest, but wow! That used to be a hopping place. It still could be. They stopped publishing the magazine over a year ago, but the forum had been going pretty well despite it. I’ll invite y’all to sign up and give me a howdy. Here’s the link:

This goes along with Quaker Boy removing their forum last year.  That used to be a nice place. Oh well (sigh).

That being said, I would like to introduce y’all to another turkey forum that is considerably more active.

This is a really good forum, especially if you are into custom calls. I’ve already ordered one from one of the craftsmen– more on that after it arrives. If you make calls or want a really nice one made for you, I would recommend this place. They also have a variety of folks on there– rookies to master turkey hunters.

The Shaman Goes Concealed

KYHillChick and I bought each other a Conceal Carry class for Christmas, and we are scheduled to take it in early February. To be honest, there is not all that much need for it in our lives yet. However, it was one of those things that needed to be done before it became an issue. ‘HillChick retired from her desk job after 23 years and is working as a massage therapist now. She is getting out more. Me? I have had no qualms about carrying in the open when the rare need arose, but I realized a few things:

1) As I age, I’m probably starting to look less threatening to people. Eventually being old farts are going to make both of us targets.
2) Although where we live during the week is cool, the places we shop are going downhill.
3) Conceal Carry certification removes a lot of haziness out of carrying firearms in a vehicle.
4) The ongoing coyote problem at the farm has got us carrying more than we ever have.

Bottom line: I don’t want to slip up sometime, grab the family and drive to Falmouth for a milkshake and commit a firearms violation, because I forgot to leave the piece back at the house. I nearly did that this year when I went to town to get a new battery for the lawnmower.

Lately, I’ve been listening to these guys:

They have a Sunday night show on 55KRC here in Cincinnati. I never get to listen to the show live, but I found the podcasts fascinating.

Rather than pull the trigger on new firearms, I figured we would see if KYHillChick and I can get by with what we have until we get settled into it. I bought her a stainless GP-100 in 357 Mag 8 years ago. She bought me a Ruger P90 in 45 Auto about the same time. Everyone poo-poos shoulder holsters, but I have one of these odd bodies that seem to go with shoulder holsters. You can get away with a lot if you are a walking landform. Sure enough, the P90 with an extended mag just disappears under my normal casual attire. I could probably hide a 12 GA Pump in there too, and still have room for 3 day’s provisions. Sometimes being big is good.