The Case of the Lucky Gun

I try hard not to believe in superstition, or lucky guns, lucky socks, hats, shirts, whatever, but sometimes I wonder. A number of years ago I got a new turkey gun, a Mossberg 835 Grand Slam, and immediately my fortunes took a 180-degree turn for the better. Where I had been a stumbling idiot in the turkey woods in previous seasons, all of a sudden I was avian cholera in camo. Long-spurred public-land turkeys practically lined up for the privilege of letting me shoot them with my new 835. I went on a five-year roll.

So, it was with a little concern this year that I left that old faithful Mossberg at home in favor of a new Remington 870. On paper (both patterning paper and metaphorical paper), the 870 was the better gun. But was I dooming my streak of punched tags?

After getting a Mossberg 835 Grand Slam for turkey hunting, the author enjoyed a five-year run of gimme turkey hunts. Then he changed guns.

Day after day, I carried the 870 through my most frustrating season in years. A freakish wet spring put most of my river bottom hunting grounds under water. The few high, dry spots were crawling with hunters. Cold weather and hunting pressure screwed up the gobbling cycle. The couple of times I got on birds, I unerringly sat a few feet away from the right spot.

Then came my final day to hunt. I agonized in front of the gun cabinet. Did I need to take my 835 to save the season? No such thing as lucky guns, I told myself, and reached for the 870. About 9:15 a.m. a 22-pound tom came 200 yards on a string, gobbling to every one of my calls. At 25 yards we saw one another. He stepped behind a tree to think things over, then turned to sneak away. I had to shoot fast at a quick glimpse of its head among the foliage. A single golden BB to the back of the skull laid the turkey out flat.

I told this story to editor Mike Toth, who said, “Of course there are lucky guns. You must have been keeping the 870 in the cabinet next to the 835, and the luck rubbed off.”