Not so long ago I entered a small bore competition at Minneapolis Rifle Club. Only four people entered, and of those people one was me, and two were young boys who I’ve met before, and although they are keen and getting better they didn’t pose a challenge that day. The fourth was a young woman who looked like she knew what she was doing: an assessment that was confirmed by George who said she has competed at a national level, so I knew who I had to beat. As it turns out I didn’t beat her, but I got close enough to be happy and give her a run for her money. At the end of the 160 shot match I had a score of 1580-87X, only 5 points behind the winner and with 3 more Xs.
A few weeks earlier I entered the Minnesota State 300m 3P championship match. I actually thought I had a chance of not totally embarrassing myself (which isn’t to say I thought I could win), and went intending to gain some experience and have a good time. But unfortunately I made a bad decision at the outset and made my life very difficult. 300m 3P competitions are shot from standing, kneeling, and prone. In the high power competition I have been shooting lately the 3 positions are standing, sitting, and prone. So I have no experience shooting from the kneeling position, but I expected that I would have to and I planned to. However when I arrived I discovered that exceptions were being made for high power shooters and we would be allowed to shoot from the sitting position, and since that’s what I have experience doing, that’s what I did…but that was a mistake. When I shoot from the sitting position in high power, it is for a rapid fire string of 10 rounds shot in around a minute. In 300m competition the kneeling position involves 20 rounds slow fire. I don’t find the sitting position very comfortable (to say the least) but at least with high power it’s just for a couple of minutes. But when I sat down to shoot the string in this competition, I was in that position for what seemed like forever. Sitting was also the first position we shot from and it set the tone for the rest of the match, which is to say I came away with nothing to feel happy about, plus a few new aches and pains.
Sitting down was causing me more pain a little more recently, but this time it had a happier ending. I was taking part in the Minnesota spring turkey hunt, and because of work I only had three days to spend in the woods. I hunted all three days I had, and each day came with a new turkey hunting experience.
Day one (a Saturday) started with a beautiful dawn (picture above). I sat in the woods all day and didn’t shoot a turkey, I did experience a lot of pain from all the sitting I was doing, and towards the end of the day I actually saw a turkey! I hunted several days of the fall hunt last year and saw nothing, so I considered this a big win.
On my second day (Sunday) I got up extra early (4am I think) and set myself up near where I saw the turkey the day before. I didn’t see a turkey all day, but as the sun was coming up I got my first earful of turkey gobbling, and it was amazing. I attempted to call them in but I couldn’t tell if they were interested and they eventually moved out of earshot.
On day three (Tuesday) I entered the woods wearing a brand new turkey vest, the most attractive feature of which (and the reason I bought it on Monday evening) was a very thick cushion for sitting on. I sat in a different spot and as soon as the turkeys started gobbling I started calling right back on my slate. And this time it was working. Each time I called, a turkey gobbled back, and as the morning went on they got closer and closer until I could just make them out through the trees about 150 yards away. But they got no closer than that, eventually fading back into the woods. I probably should have played harder to get.
I sat in that spot for a while, flicking ticks off me whenever I saw them, getting bitten by mosquitoes, and seeing nothing. At one point I switched to the position I used on Sunday, but also saw nothing there. I moved back to the first spot and stayed there long enough to flick off a few more ticks, and even though the day was not over, I decided to call it quits. I returned to my truck and packed everything up, and I was just about to turn the key in the ignition when Ron (the landowner) came out of his house and called me over. He had just seen a group of birds pass through his garden and head to where he thought I was sitting. When he didn’t hear a shot he came out to investigate and found me sitting in my truck. On his encouragement I returned to my uncomfortable seat, set up my blind, and started calling again. The position of my blind was facing away from the direction Ron had seen the birds traveling in, so as I called I was looking over my shoulder in the direction I expected them to approach from. So imagine my surprise when I turn around to my front to see a female turkey walking towards me at about 75 yards, followed a little behind by a gobbler. The female passed my front and headed off to my left, the gobbler caught sight of my hen decoy however and headed towards it for a short while before changing his mind and returning to his pursuit of the real hen. But my decoy had done it’s job and got him close enough to me that as he passed to my front in pursuit of his lady he came within range of my gun, and that was the end of that.
Turkeys are really big by the way.
I think I shot a bit low and there was damage to one of the breasts and shot scattered throughout the body. I made the mistake of firing while the bird was strutting, which placed it’s head close to its body. But it dropped on the spot and died quick, and I’ll take that and meat damage over an injured animal any day.
When I got home I butchered the turkey, it weighed 23 pounds and barely fit in my fridge.
It’s now in pieces in the freezer and I’m looking forward to eating it.