To me, its a turkey hunt, not a turkey shoot. I'm not waking up at crack of dawn to drive to the local gun club, lay down two dollars, and be given a chance to hit a small piece of paper with an X in the middle and win a block of cheese or a slab of bacon. I'm waking up to match wits with the greatest game bird of them all.
My Winchester 1300 will pattern well to 50 yards. I have confidence up through that distance because I did my research, invested the time and resources on the range, ensured my sights are accurate, and suffered the repeated recoil punishment my little 1300 happily hands out. That investment has produced a high level of confidence in my shooting set-up out to 50 yards.
Yet I have let gobblers walk away at distances between 40 and 50 yards, because for me, that same confidence does not transfer to the woods. Range confidence is not woods confidence, and here is why:
Too often small saplings go unnoticed in the heat of the moment. Too often brush is growing unnoticed between me and the gobbler. Too often wind conditions are not the same as the days on the range, and a load of shot is heavily influenced by wind as it approaches the end of its effective range. The end result of misjudging +/- 5 yards at 25 yards is still a tight pattern with lots of energy, but misjudging +/- 5 yards at 45 yards, with all the above woods-realistic variables taken into account, is a risk I'm not willing to take. And, as someone mentioned above, a turkey's vital area at 30 yards is a much larger target than it is at 45 yards.
I may win a few of those turkey shoots using my hunting set up (what's better than cheese and bacon?), but if its windy on the day of the local turkey shoot, and I'm shooting out towards my set-up's maximum range, well the only thing I go home feeling bad about is losing a couple bucks, not kicking myself for peppering a gobbler and watching him fly across the hollow.
Shooting that last ten yards of my effective range, especially when factoring in all the different variables found in the woods, simply pushes my ability to confidently get the job done way out onto the edge of the bell curve. To each their own, but long range isn't for me. I like to keep myself in the middle of the bell curve, even if it means watching that 45 yard bird walk off and I go home with tag not punched -- I was in the presence of the turkey, the greatest game bird of them all.
"So much of this business of hunting turkeys, you stupid it up right at the last.
You do everything right for an hour and a half, and then you sit down here
and there's nothing you can do about it, you made a mistake."
Tom Kelly, [i]Turkey Tales