Turkey Shoot

Turkey Shoot

Do they ever have turkey shoots where you live? They do here occasionally-but back in the day they had them more often.

A turkey shoot isn’t really a turkey shoot-you don’t shoot at a real turkey. Its more of a shooting contest to see who is the best shot. Participants shoot at a target from a set distance and the best shot wins a turkey.

The Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English has this entry for turkey shoot:

turkey shoot noun A Marksmanship competition, the winner of which is awarded a turkey as a prize. 1972 Cooper NC Mt Folklore 36 Beef and turkey shoots and rooster fights were great recreational events. 1997 Montgomery Coll. = turkey (and ham) shoots were common…beef shoots were usually conducted with rifles, while modern turkey shoots usually are conducted with shot guns. The rules and methods of scoring are also different (Ellis).

Pap's school picture


When Pap was a boy, one of his friends, Kenny Fleming, was the best shot around. Papaw Wade (pap’s daddy) heard there was going to be a turkey shoot over at Chester Dockery’s and he sent Pap and Kenny to enter it.

Pap was about 13 and Kenny was about 16 years old. Pap and Kenny’s families both lived in Pine Log. Pap and Kenny walked through the gap of the mountain and on down the way till they reached Chester’s house in Smyrna.

Now there were some serious shooters that entered the turkey shoot at Chester’s. Pap said once Kenny starting shooting they kept narrowing the target down smaller and smaller trying to find something Kenny couldn’t hit. They went from shooting at 22 hulls to shooting at straight pins.

Kenny won the turkey shoot but in those days-there wasn’t a turkey in the whole area. Pap said the best he could remember Kenny went home with a rooster.

Pap said Chester held turkey shoots most every weekend in those days. I asked him if Kenny ever went again, Pap said “No Kenny was too bashful to go back.”


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  • Reply
    sheldon mcneely
    June 1, 2015 at 12:44 am

    Turkey shooting would be fun! Before you give this a try, make sure you’ve taught about shooting in gun shooting ranges like in

  • Reply
    November 24, 2013 at 5:35 am

    I always loved guns and -at one time – I was a good shot. But, one day there was an accident and the love of guns was taken from me. No…no body was harmed but, we were never the same. Still have my guns although its been a hundred years (it seems) since they were fired.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 23, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    I used to be a pretty good shot with a rifle but if anybody was watching, I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. I used to have a little .22 Mossberg Semi-Automatic carbine that I would hold like a pistol at arms length and shoot walnuts out of a tree. Anymore I have trouble just seeing the walnuts.
    I also could shoot the fire out of a cigarette in my sister Freda’s mouth with a pistol firing from the hip. Lest you think I am a total fool, it was one of those toy guns that shoots rubber suction cup darts.
    That was a long long time ago. Freda died in 2002 from lung cancer.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    November 23, 2013 at 10:15 am

    There used to be a “shurky toot” every weekend from the first of November thru Christmas at an American Legend post not far from here..Thinking about it, I don’t remember seeing the sign advertising it this year.
    With more interest in guns, one would think there would be more “shoots”! The problem is getting the ammo, I suppose!
    Not to be an avid hunter, my husband loves him a “shurky toot”!
    He has won a couple of turkeys thru the years…an has not entered many competitions. He was an excellent marksman in the air force as well.
    Thanks Tipper, loved this post!
    PS…So funny you mentioned turkeys today…I have been fiddling/drawing/painting around with a little Turkey card for Thanksgiving the last couple of days…!
    PS..The “shurky toot” wording came from a friend in high school that could never get the words in the right order! LOL Everysince, I have had to really think “turky shoot” in order to keep from sayin’ “shurky toot”…I’d love to see that friend again…~~sigh~~~

  • Reply
    November 23, 2013 at 10:02 am

    Bradley, for a minute I thought you were talking about me! But, I never lived in Forsyth County. I hosted a concealed carry class her on the farm with eight male participants. Shooting a target was part of the required course. I bet some of the guys are still talking about the best shooter of the bunch-the girl with the blonde ponytail!
    Miss Cindy, most of the guys in Washington remind me of Bill.

  • Reply
    R L Bennett
    November 23, 2013 at 9:31 am

    Some of my favorite times with my dad was at turkey shoots around thanksgiving . Shooting at the x with the only gun we own a 16 g Remington which will soon be passed down to the 5 th grearation . I wish there were still turkey shoots to take my grandson too.
    Also , when I was in collage there was a animal rights protest by peta one of the girls there told me ” do you know that at turkey shoots they tie a turkey out in a field and shot it. I asked where she heard this she said the professor who set up the protest told her . I tried to explain but it hard to talk to stupid people

  • Reply
    November 23, 2013 at 9:30 am

    As a matter of fact, Tipper, The Mountain Woman and I are going to a Turkey Shoot this very day! We use a shotgun and shoot at paper targets; the target with the hoke closest to the X in the center wins the round.
    I wish I had one of those Remington Nylon 66s today; I actually, truly could shoot .22 hulls off a fence-post with one..

  • Reply
    steve in tn
    November 23, 2013 at 9:13 am

    when i was young i saw a man at a 4h show throw an asprin in the air and hit it with a red rider bb gun…the bb…not the gun.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    November 23, 2013 at 9:10 am

    My dad had a little 16 gauge shotgun that he won many turkey’s and ham’s with. I remember he would let friends use it when he couldn’t go to a shoot. I don’t know how many people tried to buy that gun from him but he held on to it until he gave up going to the shoots. I have been to a few and they still have several a year around here. I have seen guys bring out guns that cost a lot of money only to be beat by some good ol boy with his beat up old shotgun.

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph.D.
    November 23, 2013 at 8:59 am

    Tipper: A gun was a forbidden object in our house. Mama would not tolerate the boys bringing in a gun. And the girls (six of us!) would have never been keen about firing a gun.
    But this activity must still be popular over here in Tennessee as folks are always shooting at the firing range which is located close to our tennis courts. The sound of the firing of the guns makes you concentrate more on your tennis ‘shots’- well at least I try to concentrate on hitting the ball to a target on the court!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    November 23, 2013 at 8:00 am

    Though not as common as they once were Turkey Shoots still occur in Swain County. In the early seventies these were a social event used by many civic organizations to raise revenue. My first firearm I purchased and still have is a H&R Model 158 “Topper” 12 ga. shotgun that is choked tighter than your hatband. This gun has brought home many a bird and/or ham. Todays gun phobia society, though not as common here in Appalachia has decreased the number of shoots along with some shooters building shotguns for the sole purpose of shooting tight patterns has changed the sport from one where anyone could bring their trusty smoke-pole and have a chance to win their Thanksgiving Bird to one where those willing to invest & have a gunsmith build a shotgun or rifle which gives them an unfair advantage are at a distinct advantage which has decreased the popularity of and the social event atmosphere of these events. Some folks have tried to tighten their on chokes to the point where they have created a hazard as these shade-tree modifications will sometimes cause the barrels to burst, possibly injuring the shooter or bystanders.

  • Reply
    November 23, 2013 at 7:52 am

    That sounds like a good way to practice using a weapon. At least I could use that type of practice and the incentive. I’m sure that the turkeys ran as fast as they could so they couldn’t be the reward.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 23, 2013 at 7:38 am

    I like to do target practice with the Deer Hunter every now and then. I am pleased to say that I can hit the can at 30 yards….some of the time. LOL
    I used to have a friend named Bill, he’s dead now. Bill was always talking anti gun. I’d just laugh at him and say a gun in an inanimate object, it can’t do anything on it’s own. We decided to do some target practice with the Deer Hunter once. We drove up to the house in Bill’s big green car and started to get our guns out. I thought Bill had one pistol. Well, let me tell you I was shocked when Bill just kept bringing guns out of the trunk of that car. He had about eight guns when he finally got them all out of that trunk!
    I said to him, “your a hypocrite, Bill, always talking against guns when there you own all those guns!” He just laughed

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    November 23, 2013 at 7:31 am

    Turkey shoots used to be popular here too. Not so much any more though, but times are changing and people are enjoying more and more from simpler times.

  • Reply
    November 23, 2013 at 5:49 am

    Tipper – You telling about Pap and his friend Kenny reminded of a shooter I once saw. Never went to a turkey shoot but I once a person that was a terrific shot. Once we were delivering Cokes in Forsyth county -to our west- and we came upon this girl shooting a riffle. She was using a semi-automatic Remington .22 (you know that old type that had the nylon stock). Well, she was shooting again and again rather fast without stopping. This was a used car lot in the country and they had those sticks with a little triangular plastic flag attached to one end and they stood them up on every fence post around the lot for decoration. The sticks were smaller than a pencil in diameter. They were about the length of a basketball court – give or take a little – away. I finally asked her what she was shooting at and she laughed and said, “Awh, I was shooting at those sticks with the flags. I am trying to get back in practice, I used too be pretty good!” She asked me If I wanted to shoot the riffle I told her lord no, I couldn’t hit the bank much less one of those sticks. She just laughed and kept firing. I kept thinking to myself, well you ain’t hit one yet. Then she set the gun down and walked to the sticks and I went with her. Those little sticks were full of holes from top to bottom. The bullet would go through without breaking the sticks. I finally shot the gun and missed totally. She laughed and said, to always shoot fast without waiting too long to aim. If you wait too long you will tremble more and more and miss. I still remember the way she would shoot. She would raise the barrel of the gun straight up and then bring it down quickly and immediately fire as she came down on the target. The biggest thing that got me was I thought she was missing the sticks all that time. Incidentally, she had the prettiest blonde ponytail.

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