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OUTDOOR TRUTHS: "Heart-Shocking" Experience During Turkey Shoot

By Gary Miller

No matter how long you’ve been doing something, there is always a first. This truth goes for turkey hunting and it goes for me. Let me explain. I had decided at the last minute to go hunting that morning. I was about 30 minutes late but was still able to arrive before the hens flew off the roast.

My lateness however, made me guess as to where the turkeys might be. I guessed wrong. After about 45 minutes of calling and listening, I decided to move around the farm to see if I could entice a gobble from a listening tom. Finally after another 45 minutes, I heard one in the distance.

He was over two ridges and there was a lot of thick stuff between him and me. He was actually on the next farm over and probably making his way to a popular field. The decision I had to make was to either walk and climb directly toward the sound or to back off, drive my SUV around to the other farm, and try to get set up on him from there. I decided on the latter. The whole process took probably about 30 minutes.

When I pulled at the other farm, the owner was there working. I stopped and talked for a few minutes and then eased out to the location where I was hoping to run into my gobbler. The field that I was working was about five acres. It was fenced in with barbed wire but there was a small section (about two acres) that was fenced in again with one strand of barbed wire that had been electrified. The electric fence was to keep a young group of heifers from wandering too far off. Since the electric fence was only about two feet high, I had no problem in stepping over it to get where I was going.

When I finally made it to the end of the field, I proceeded to make some really loud calls with my box call. After a few aggressive calls, the tom gave up his location. He was just below me in the hollow. I quickly set up two decoys and stepped across the electric fence at a corner where the electric fence and the main fence came together. I sat down with my back to small tree that had grown up in the fence but after extending my gun, I was dangerously close to electric one. I had no choice but to sit tight. I made one more call and sure enough, that turkey that was once down in the hollow was now on the edge of my field. But since the hill rolled slightly, I couldn’t see him yet.

I eased my gun and propped it up on my knee. My eyes gazed back and forth, looking for a fan or a head, or something. But there was no sign yet. And then it happened. I tried to make a slight adjustment in my position and when I did my gun touched the electric wire! It started in my left arm and immediately shot through my right foot. I jumped, jerked, kicked the small tree like a mule, and after my self-administered defibrillation, I never heard or seen my bird again. I hope that experience is not only my first but my last. My heart won’t take it again.

Gary Miller can be reached via e-mail at

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