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Why is it pretty much universally considered ethical and sporting to shoot a turkey when it's standing on the ground, but almost nobody thinks it's ethical and sporting to shoot a pheasant, duck, or any other kind of game bird that I can think of whe

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  • Why is it pretty much universally considered ethical and sporting to shoot a turkey when it's standing on the ground, but almost nobody thinks it's ethical and sporting to shoot a pheasant, duck, or any other kind of game bird that I can think of whe

    Why is it pretty much universally considered ethical and sporting to shoot a turkey when it's standing on the ground, but almost nobody thinks it's ethical and sporting to shoot a pheasant, duck, or any other kind of game bird that I can think of when they're not flying?

  • #2
    I have never thought of that before but have always been taught that all game birds except turkey should be wing shot. Maybe it has to do with how hard a turkey is to kill on the ground, much less int he air?

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    • #3
      Originally posted by ozark_ghost View Post
      I have never thought of that before but have always been taught that all game birds except turkey should be wing shot. Maybe it has to do with how hard a turkey is to kill on the ground, much less int he air?
      Possibly. Turkeys can be shot on the wing though, as long as you use heavy loads and limit your shots to 30 yards or less. Even the biggest gobbler will drop like a stone if you hit him with a magnum load of 2s or 4s at close ranges.
      I think more likely it's just one of those customs that everyone is taught when they're learning to hunt and they just never stop and think about it after that. After all, other game birds are also easier to kill when not flying, so why not shoot them on the ground if that's your reason for shooting turkeys on the ground? For that reason I personally have no problem with people shooting pheasants, ducks, geese, etc. on the ground or water. It's just like a turkey, in my opinion.

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      • #4
        This is a great question. A hunter ed student in a class I was teaching asked the same question and the answer I gave at the time was that it came down to the philosophy behind fair chase: ensuring that the means and manner in which you harvest game is done in such a way to accord the game a reasonable chance of escape. This basic tenant of conservation allows us to hone our skills as hunters. It isn't illegal to shoot a pheasant on the ground, a duck on the water or a turkey on the roost, so why isn't it encouraged? Because neither of those methods of taking game tests our skills as hunters and quite simply is unfair to the game. I'd also add that it is our ethical duty to ensure a clean and quick kill. A duck on the water has its vitals below the water line. Anyone who has shot a cripple multiple times on the water knows how hard it is to kill a duck on the water. Likewise, it is cleanest to kill a turkey on the ground with a shot to the neck and head. Shooting a turkey on the wing is more likely to cripple and injure the bird than to kill it quickly. As for shooting a pheasant on the ground - which can result in a quick and clean kill - it's a matter of ensuring the game a chance to escape and to test our skill as a wingshooter against that happening.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by wainer View Post
          This is a great question. A hunter ed student in a class I was teaching asked the same question and the answer I gave at the time was that it came down to the philosophy behind fair chase: ensuring that the means and manner in which you harvest game is done in such a way to accord the game a reasonable chance of escape. This basic tenant of conservation allows us to hone our skills as hunters. It isn't illegal to shoot a pheasant on the ground, a duck on the water or a turkey on the roost, so why isn't it encouraged? Because neither of those methods of taking game tests our skills as hunters and quite simply is unfair to the game. I'd also add that it is our ethical duty to ensure a clean and quick kill. A duck on the water has its vitals below the water line. Anyone who has shot a cripple multiple times on the water knows how hard it is to kill a duck on the water. Likewise, it is cleanest to kill a turkey on the ground with a shot to the neck and head. Shooting a turkey on the wing is more likely to cripple and injure the bird than to kill it quickly. As for shooting a pheasant on the ground - which can result in a quick and clean kill - it's a matter of ensuring the game a chance to escape and to test our skill as a wingshooter against that happening.
          I guess it depends on whether you're hunting for sport, or to put food on the table. After all, if we truly cared about giving our quarry a chance to escape, we would spook them before taking the shot, wouldn't we? I don't know of anybody who says that we should only take shots at running deer, so why should we only take shots at flying game birds? And I don't buy the excuse that a duck on the water is harder to kill cleanly that a duck in the air. Every duck hunter has pulled feathers from flying ducks, but didn't drop them. How many of those birds later die?

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          • #6
            I would assume that the answer to this goes back a lot of years to the time when market hunting was allowed. I believe the conservation ethic and the idea of fair chase would be part of it. JMO

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            • #7
              The turkey has fantastic eye sight. Trying to kill one on the ground is really tough. The slightest movement could explode the flock out of your hunting area. Even in a ground blind they can see your movement from the light coming in from the back blind window.
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              • #8
                Phill Bourjaily addressed this subject on F&S on 11-1-2012

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