When I Lost My Eye

When I Lost My Eye
Chip Gross was shot while turkey hunting 26 years ago. (Courtesy Chip Gross)

Anniversary of being shot comes with call for safety in turkey woods

This year will mark my 26th anniversary, but the specific date — May 5, 1986 — is not one I care to remember. It was the day I was shot in the turkey woods.

It felt and sounded like a firecracker exploding in my left ear. I was knocked down, but not unconscious, and my mind immediately tried to figure out what was wrong — what was happening.

At first, I thought my shotgun had blown apart. I had been turkey hunting and carrying the 12-gauge on a sling over my shoulder and thought one of the three-inch magnum shells in the magazine had detonated for some unexplained reason.

But I had been carrying the gun over my right shoulder, so why were my left arm and the left side of my face stinging as if a thousand hornets were attacking? I remember sitting up and seeing my camouflaged shotgun lying intact on the ground. It was then that my mind registered the terrifying and unbelievable fact, “I’ve been shot!”


To make a long, painful story very short, another hunter had mistaken my hen calling and movement for a wild turkey and nailed me at 30 yards. I was hit with about 20 lead pellets, most of which I still carry in my body today. But the worst of my injuries was a shotshell pellet that penetrated my left eyeball, permanently blinding me in that eye. It took four years for me to feel comfortable enough to once again step back into the turkey woods, but I’ve hunted every year since.


Hunt Defensively


The following eight tips will help you hunt more defensively in the turkey woods. And besides making you a safer hunter, these suggestions will also make you more successful:

1. Never stalk a turkey – Trying to sneak up on a wild gobbler is a hunting method that could easily result in you being involved in a hunting accident. Always attempt to call a turkey to your location, never stalk.

2. Dress for success – Eliminate the colors red, white, and blue from your hunting clothing, the colors of a gobbler’s head. Wear complete camouflage when calling from a stationary position, including headnet and gloves. When moving through the woods, display some hunter orange.


3. Remain still – When approached by another hunter, don’t move, wave, or make a turkey sound to alert him/her of your presence. Instead, yell or speak in a loud voice. And always assume that any turkey sound you hear could be another hunter.

4. Don’t use a gobble call – Gobble calls are great for locating birds prior to the hunting season, but should be left at home once the turkey season begins. Duh.

5. Choose a safe calling position – Whenever possible, select a large tree or rock to sit against when calling. The object will not only break up your outline from an approaching gobbler, but will protect your back from an approaching hunter.


6. Positively identify your target – In most states, only bearded birds are allowed to be harvested during the spring turkey hunting season. Make sure you see a beard before pulling the trigger, and never shoot at a sound or movement.

7. Know your range – Pattern your shotgun prior to the turkey hunting season using the same ammunition with which you plan to hunt. Numbers 4, 5, 6, or 7½ size shot are good choices. Know your gun’s effective range, and keep in mind that most turkeys are killed at 30 yards or less.

8. Where to aim – Always aim at a turkey’s neck and head. Wild gobblers are large, heavy, big-boned birds that are seldom killed by a body shot.

Hunting the wild turkey — America’s greatest game bird — should be a fun, exhilarating, rejuvenating time in the spring woodlands. Don’t let it be marred by tragedy. you are the victim or the shooter in a turkey hunting accident, your life will be changed forever. Mine was.

Recommended for You

When all else fails, here's what these pros tie on. Bass

MLF Pros: What's Your Go-To Lure?

G&F Online Staff - May 20, 2019

When all else fails, here's what these pros tie on.

Adam Heggenstaller takes over after 14 years with NRA Publications. News

Game & Fish Magazine Names New Editorial Director

G&F Online Staff - May 23, 2019

Adam Heggenstaller takes over after 14 years with NRA Publications.

Brush-style bowfishing arrow rest and kits designed for simplicity and reliability. Bows

New TRUGLO Bowfishing EZ•Rest

May 23, 2019

Brush-style bowfishing arrow rest and kits designed for simplicity and reliability.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

As KVD tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead, innovative Humminbird products and cutting-edge technology like that found in the new Mega 360 Imaging sonar are major reasons contributing to his unparalleled success.

13 Fishing Omen Black Baitcasting Rod

13 Fishing Omen Black Baitcasting Rod

Multiple time FLW Costa winner Jessi Mizell is no stranger to catching big Florida bass on a popping frog. As he tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead, with the new 13 Fishing Omen Black baitcasting rod, the job just got easier.

Costa and Captains for Clean Water

Costa and Captains for Clean Water

With the company's heavy involvement in initiatives like Kick the Plastic and Captains for Clean Water campaigns, Costa's Amanda Sabin tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead all about the sunglass maker's unwavering commitment to help the freshwater and saltwater environment.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Celebrate the start of summer with great food for your backyard BBQ or picnic with these outdoor recipes. Wild Game

10 Memorial Day Recipes for Your Outdoor BBQ

OutdoorChannel.com Staff

Celebrate the start of summer with great food for your backyard BBQ or picnic with these...

Fishing for nighttime crappie gets you out of the summer heat and puts more fish in the cooler.

By Other Freshwater

6 Tips for Nighttime Crappie

Keith Sutton - June 19, 2017

Fishing for nighttime crappie gets you out of the summer heat and puts more fish in the...

Here are the 10 most common reel performance problems and how to fix them. Reels

10 Most Common Reel Performance Problems

Anietra Hamper

Here are the 10 most common reel performance problems and how to fix them.

See More Stories

More Stories

Once considered a denizen of the Western wilds, the coyote has learned to adapt to human Stories

Coyotes In Suburbia

Stephen D. Carpenteri - November 30, 2016

Once considered a denizen of the Western wilds, the coyote has learned to adapt to human

Predator hunters living in more open areas are in a unique position to enjoy coyote hunting at its Stories

Guns & Loads for Long-Range Coyote Hunting

Stephen D. Carpenteri - December 13, 2015

Predator hunters living in more open areas are in a unique position to enjoy coyote hunting at...

We Coyote hunters spend a lot of time ringing the dog's dinner bell when we call. But we are Stories

Call Our Complex Coyotes

Brad Fitzpatrick - July 13, 2017

We Coyote hunters spend a lot of time ringing the dog's dinner bell when we call. But we are

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×