In my opinion, the most exciting thing about springtime in Missouri is turkey season; sure there are mushrooms to pick in the woods, fish to catch in the ponds and rivers, and arrowheads to find in the ditches -- but nothing quite compares with being in the woods with our big Eastern tom turkeys during the mating season in April and May. For me, it’s a time to hunt, as well as an opportunity to get some exercise and spend time with family and friends.
The hunting is never the same from one day to the next; I’ve used box calls, mouth calls and sometimes no call at all. I’ve hunted from ground blinds and deer stands, but mostly just on foot. I’ve called them in, chased them down, ambushed them and headed them off at the pass. I’ve shot them on the ground, in the air and on tree limbs -- every legal way you can shoot a turkey, I’ve done it. I’ve hunted in the rain, in the snow and on some of the most beautiful and pleasant spring mornings on earth.
Some days it’s only me, getting into the woods just after 5:00 a.m. and waking up the gobblers; then going in tight and hoping luck is on my side. But most of the time family and friends are involved; and that just makes it more special. As the mornings go on, it’s true hunting, moving and calling, then moving and calling again, and again; till the morning is gone or my time or energy runs out.
Now turkey hunting wouldn’t be the same without my favorite shotgun – for hunting turkeys. You’ve heard the old adage: “Beware the man with one gun, he may know how to use it.” Let me assure you I’ve never supported that idea, and like a different gun for almost every occasion.
My favorite shotgun for Turkeys is an old Winchester Model 12, 12 gauge, made in 1940. Half of the original finish has been worn off this old gun, but it has a nice bore and a 30” full choke, solid rib barrel. It’s balanced well, has a good trigger pull, patterns like a swarm of honey bees and hits right where you point it. Yes, I have missed a couple of turkeys – by pulling the shot, but this old Model 12 has never let me down.