The author thinks it is, but ultimately it’s a question only you can answer.
I recently read a headline joyously proclaiming that “50 is the new 40!”
“Cool!” I thought while wondering how a discussion about turkey shooting yardages had found its way into a weekly news magazine.
Of course, the article wasn’t about turkeys, but rather how the 21st century approach to aging is that in mind, body and spirit, you’re only as old as you feel, or something like that. While I certainly hope that’s true, and as much as I’ve already tired of the “this is the new that” cliché, I can’t help but apply it to turkey hunting by asking, seriously: Is 50 yards the new 40 yards?
First, a disclaimer: I don’t think it does our sport or our reputation as hunters any good to encourage long-distance shots at turkeys. But what’s long distance? I don’t know, and that’s the point of asking the question. It’s not a simple one to answer because, as a friend often replies when I ask him what I think is a simple question: “Well, there are two ways of looking at that.” Which is his way of avoiding answering me.
But in this case, there really ARE two ways of looking at it: First, what are your self-imposed ethics regarding shooting distances? And second, what kind of performance is your gun and ammo capable of?
As I write this, there is quite a spirited debate raging about appropriate shooting distances in the Shooting portion of the Message Board on www.turkeyandturkeyhunting.com. While it makes for interesting reading, there can never be closure. One group approaches it from an ethical viewpoint and the other approaches from the hardware viewpoint.
There are gun-choke-load combinations that absolutely will kill a turkey at 70 yards. That’s fact. Therefore, the only question remaining is: Just because you CAN kill a turkey at 50 (or 60 or 70) yards, should you?
40? Says Who?
I think we would all agree that the closer you bring a turkey before pulling the trigger, the more exciting and rewarding the experience is. But that doesn’t have anything to do with ethics. That’s a personal choice. The ethical part comes into play when you try to stretch the limits of the capabilities of your shooting gear.
Somewhere along the line 40 yards became the ethical standard. You figured out how to call a turkey inside of that distance before you considered taking the shot. That’s probably because up until about a decade ago when manufacturers started supplying truly excellent turkey choke tubes and superior ammo (meaning shells that were designed for turkey-killing performance, and not simply stuffed with extra powder and pellets) it was tough to consistently get good patterns much beyond that distance.