Flintlock fall turkey


Aug 22, 2018
Fair Grove, MO

When I was a kid, and before I took up bowhunting, I used to take full advantage of Missouri's fall turkey season. This was back in the late 70's and early 80's when our bird population was beginning to explode. I toted around a short-barreled Rossi stagecoach model 20 gauge that my dad owned and a boxcar wouldn't hold all the game that he and I killed with that gun. As soon as I got home from school, and got my chores done, I would grab that shotgun, a handful of shells, and head to the woods. Weekends were the best because I could hunt all day if I wanted to. Squirrels were my primary target but I was always on the lookout for a flock of young turkeys. I would get them patterned for a few days and then I would set up an ambush. The breasts were a nice change from the wild red meat we normally ate and I always felt like I was making a real contribution to our family's wellbeing.

After I started slinging arrows, I became focused on bigger game and fall turkeys were relegated to a "target of opportunity" status. Occasionally, I would put the bow down and grab a smoothbore instead, but again, it was because I knew there were turkeys in the area.


I purchased a Pedersoli 20 gauge flintlock SxS, Little Debbie, this past August with the plan of using it to hunt Gould's turkeys in Mexico next spring. I've killed few squirrels with it but I was really hoping on testing it out on the game it was intended for. That opportunity presented itself yesterday evening.

Missouri has a new early firearms anterless deer season and it opened on Friday, 10/6, the day after I got back from my Alberta archery moose hunt. I hunted behind our house the next morning with my 62 rifle and while I saw no deer, I did see plenty of turkey sign, including watching 5 young birds feeding through the woods. I didn't get that excited about their presence until Monday evening when my wife and I were sitting on the porch and we heard a flock of birds go to roost in the trees less than 100 yards from where we were at. This performance was repeated Tuesday evening and I decided then that I had better do something about it. Having that many turkeys, that close to the house, made me start wondering if they were planning an invasion or something. Vowing to keep my family safe, I planned on taking the fight to them Wednesday after work. I was further encouraged to do this after my dad called me Tuesday morning to let me know that he had killed a bird.

I had told my next-door neighbor about the turkeys roosting close and he called me Wednesday morning around 8:30 to let me know that they were in his backyard. I work from home now, and I figured it could take care of itself for a little bit, so I quickly started gathering up my hunting paraphernalia to go try to bring one of those birds to the house. I was in the middle of putting my boots on when the phone started ringing. Work had reared its ugly head at the most inopportune time so I had to fall back onto my original plan of hunting that evening.

After work, and a few chores, I got my turkey stuff in a pile and loaded my smoothbore. I have yet to get to the range with Little Debbie for pattern work so I based what I was stuffing down the barrel on previous experience and hoped it would be good enough. I walked down the hill behind the house around 5 and got settled in at the base of a big white oak about 30 minutes later. If the turkeys followed their previous schedule, I should see them in an hour or so. The mosquitoes were out in full force so I was glad to have on my leafy suit as an extra layer for them to bite through. Squirrels bitched and moaned about squirrel things all around me, which only reinforced my belief that I was not denting their population much.

Around 6:15, I heard the telltale sounds of little turkey feet coming through the forest. I pulled the hammer back on the left barrel (modified choke) and started scanning the woods to my right. I knew they should be coming from the southeast across my neighbor's land and then walk diagonally until they were in front of me at 20 yards. My prediction was a little off, though, and they came in almost straight from the east and by the time I saw the first blue heads bobbing around they were almost on top of me. I picked out the one I could see the best, put the big brass bead on its head, and pulled the trigger. A cloud of blue smoke appeared, turkeys flew off in every direction, and I sat for a moment to hopefully hear one flopping around. I became a bit concerned when I didn't hear anything but replaced that feeling with relief when I stretched my neck and spotted my target on the ground, unmoving. The shot distance was 23 steps and the load was 75 grains 3F, 1 over powder card, 1/2" lubed fiber wad, 1 1/2 oz. #6 shot, and 1 over shot card.


The rest of the evening was just work. After giving thanks to the turkey's spirit, I loaded up the carcass and my gear and ascended the ridge. Leah, my wife, was quite happy with my acquisition because fried wild turkey breast is one of her favorites. She took a couple of photos and then I commenced to cleaning and cutting up the young hen. She weighed around 10-12 pounds and will look quite good on plate next to the mashed taters and gravy.



Sep 29, 2023
I enjoyed hearing about your hunting experiences during Missouri's fall turkey season. It must have been thrilling to hunt with Little Debbie and provide food for your family. Thanks for sharing your story, Darren!