Column: Turkey shoot déjà vu

October 24, 2013 

You might recall my entry in this space about this time last year, one that boasted of my ridiculous track record at the N.C. State Fair turkey shoot.

I bragged about how I went two-for-three a few years back, and then returned to a state of triumph last year after leaving the fairgrounds empty-handed in 2011 – voluntarily, in the best interest of my bank account.

Last year, my dad and I each shot one time and in the same shoot. Once all the smoke had settled, it was determined I had won. A slap in my dad’s face – if I hadn’t won, he would have.

This year’s results were freakishly similar, but how they came to be was a sight different.

If you don’t remember, here’s a little background information for those unfamiliar with the turkey shoot:

Targets, not live turkeys, are fired upon at the turkey shoot. Shooters line up at separate bays and take shots at separate targets that are typically positioned about 25 yards away. Shotgun shells can house hundreds of pellets that spread wider the further they travel after a shotgun is fired.

The shooter who lands one of the pellets closest to the cross hairs of their target wins, but you have to hit the target - preferably blow up the middle of the target - to have the best chance to land a pellet in the dead center. It’s a perfect mix of luck and skill.

The winner of the State Fair turkey shoot, put on by the Raleigh Jaycees, gets their choice of a frozen turkey or a turkey shoot T-shirt. We always opt for the turkey, leaving even more bragging room for the winner as they supply the bird for the entire family to feast on at an upcoming holiday meal.

The weather was nice on Monday and I had a good vibe as we approached the shooting range, anxious to see if fate would call my target number once more, maybe twice. Things looked even better when my dad and I began to scope out the competition prior to our first shoot.

There was a good mix of age and gender in the field, and plenty of the others looked more likely to be holding a computer mouse than a 20-gauge shotgun. Then I was sure we’d hit the jackpot when a turkey shoot official asked if anyone was a first-time gun shooter in need of assistance, and about half of the other 12 competitors raised their hands.

We took our shots – me on the far left No. 1 target and my dad on No. 2 – and discussed. I was pleased with my execution and so was my dad.

We watched as officials gathered the targets from end-to-end, meeting in the middle. We knew I had a good chance after the target collector placed mine on top of my dad’s and it remained on top of his stack by the time he met the other collector in the middle of the range.

Both of us had centered the target. But, lo and behold, a lady who had never fired a shotgun before was named the winner.

We tried a second time against a similar crowd, and found similar results – both peppering the heart of the target but not landing the closest pellet to the cross hairs. A teen who had never shot before bought two targets in the same round and claimed the victory.

We figured maybe the third time would be a charm and agreed it would be our last attempt since we would have paid a total of $24 for one turkey by that point. This time, however, every person in the field was wearing either farm boots or a camouflage jacket. Our odds were getting worse.

We took our shots. I admitted to my dad I had pulled up a bit on my third attempt. He said he thought he had blasted the middle like he had on the first two shots. But when the officials sorted through the targets, they held up lucky No. 7, the one I had fired at.

A little further inspection showed our initial suspicions were accurate. My dad should have won – he squared the target and was the second-closest to the cross hairs. I had hit largely high and left but had a couple stray pellets near the center, one of which put a turkey in my freezer.

We witnessed the most unlikely winners claim the prize twice before I won on an off-target shot against a bunch that could have been pictured in Field and Stream Magazine. That would be my luck.

Moody: 919-829-4806 or

Eastern Wake News is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service