Decision Time: The Borrowed Gun

In this interactive feature, Editor Brian Lovett shares a scenario from his 20+ years of turkey hunting, asking "What would you do?"
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Ben Sobieck
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Decision Time: The Borrowed Gun

Postby Ben Sobieck » March 22nd, 2011, 11:00 am

In "Decision Time," Editor Brian Lovett will share a scenario from his 20-plus years hunting turkeys. Each hinges on a critical decision. Post what choice you would have made, and then see how things actually turned out.

The Borrowed Gun

Beware the borrowed gun. I heard those words early in my turkey hunting career, and they still ring true. However, because of need or industry obligation, you'll eventually end up using a loaner shotgun.

I was in that situation two springs ago in Nebraska. Sure, I'd lugged my trusty 870 700-some miles from my Wisconsin home, but when I arrived at camp, my host requested that I use a shotgun from one of the hunt sponsors. What could I say?

After patterning the gun, I determined that it threw a decent pattern but shot high. I'd just have to aim low. The next morning, I toted the borrowed gun to the woods.

Sure enough, soon after lunch, I struck two pepper-hot gobblers near a cottonwood ridge. I sat quickly, yelped once more and readied the borrowed gun. Within seconds, a gobbler charged into view at 30 steps and periscoped his head high.

Bam. Miss.

No matter. The lead bird ducked behind a deadfall at the shot, but the noise startled the trailing gobbler, which took a step forward and held its head high.

Bam. Miss No. 2.

Uh-oh. I was two-thirds of the way to blowing a dream hunt, and both gobblers were turning to run away. I had obviously shot over their heads, but by how much? In the next millisecond, I had to decide whether to take a third shot at the fleeing birds or swallow my losses and get a new gun.

What would you do? Post your choice below, then click here to see how things really turned out.

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RE: Decision Time: The Borrowed Gun

Postby WillowRidgeCalls » March 22nd, 2011, 1:40 pm

Well Ben I'd have to swallow my pride and eat the two misses, instead of risking a wounded bird by taking the 3rd shot at a moving bird with a gun that didn't shoot where I was aiming.

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RE: Decision Time: The Borrowed Gun

Postby Fan Club » March 22nd, 2011, 1:55 pm

I'd have to agree with Scott. Two misses at birds standing still is bad enough, but the third would be a at running bird no less. Although that's a tough decision to make in an instant, we owe it to the majestic birds we hunt to harvest them in a sure, ethical manner. No third shot.
"The joy of living is his, who has the heart to demand it." Teddy Roosevelt

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RE: Decision Time: The Borrowed Gun

Postby kygobbler » March 22nd, 2011, 9:51 pm

Knowing myself I would say aim lower, control your breathing, and if you got a clear shot nail 'em. Although several people on here will disagree with me on that but yeah if I got one more round it aint going to waste.
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RE: Decision Time: The Borrowed Gun

Postby Dale L. » March 23rd, 2011, 3:24 am

I would probably hold a little lower and try the third shot.

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RE: Decision Time: The Borrowed Gun

Postby retranger » March 23rd, 2011, 3:38 am

When I first started hunting an old turkey hunter told me,,,,,never shoot at a running bird and don't shoot a bird that is in display,,,,,,, With no experience I did shoot at a running bird ,,,TWO DIFFERENT TIMES,,,,,missed both times!!!![>:] Its not the end of the world and more turkeys around for another time. We learn from experience,,,hopefully. Keep the third shot for next time. [;)] Good luck on the next one.[:)]
What works for me may not work for you and what works today may not work tomorrow
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mark hay
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RE: Decision Time: The Borrowed Gun

Postby mark hay » March 23rd, 2011, 10:28 am

Boy ,,I  have to strain to even imagine going on a hunt without my own gun . But , I ''THINK'' I understand your position .
 Let 'em walk .

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RE: Decision Time: The Borrowed Gun

Postby Everyday Hunter » March 24th, 2011, 6:28 am

I tend to agree with most of the posters -- it was time to swallow hard and save that last shell. But I had a sneaking suspicion that wasn't what Brian did. I noticed that he said "both gobblers were turning to run away." In other words, they weren't running yet.

When I read the Conclusion, I realized that each situation is a situation unto itself. Since the trailing gobbler "started to sprint away," it wasn't up to speed yet so Brian took the shot. If the birds had been running flat out, neither would likely have been "still within easy range." He also must have had a good sense of where to hold for the last shot.

I'd say experience was the big difference-maker here -- experience with various shotguns, and experience seeing turkey behavior after a miss. A rookie probably should hold his fire.

When [url=""]"The Everyday Hunter"[/url] isn't hunting, he's thinking about hunting, talking about hunting, dreaming about hunting, writing about hunting, or wishing he were hunting.

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RE: Decision Time: The Borrowed Gun

Postby Fan Club » March 27th, 2011, 4:13 am

Great to see you here again Steve!
Good discussion. Shots at running gobblers are extremely low percentage and not advised- with one exception- if the bird is running straight away from you. When a gobbler is running broadside or at and angle, his head will be bobbing back and forth in about an 18" arc usually resulting in a miss. On a straight away shot his head will stay in a consistent line with your sights just moving slightly closer and farther away.
I absolutely despise using a gun other than my own. That situation cost me that largest whitetail buck of my life back in 1990. Short version: My Dad talked me into using his gun because it had a scope and mine didn't. Unbeknownst to me, he had dropped the gun on the scope and it was off by almost three feet. I missed a 12 or 14 point standing still at 35 yards. Arrrrgggggg !!!! I could kill that deer in my sleep with my gun. The gun sponsor situation is a bad one to be in and it sucks.
"The joy of living is his, who has the heart to demand it." Teddy Roosevelt

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RE: Decision Time: The Borrowed Gun

Postby TRapper » March 27th, 2011, 8:48 am

i don't like chasing a running wounded turkey, i am 6'9" tall and 375 pounds, once i get started down a hill, i don't stop fast enough to change directions. better to let those turkeys live to see another barrel of a gun someday
Joshua "TRapper" Jones
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