Bourjaily on Lucky Guns

I try hard not to believe in superstition, or lucky guns, lucky socks, hats, shirts, whatever, but sometimes I wonder. Five 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 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 my old faithful Mossberg at home in favor of a new 870. On paper (both patterning paper and metaphorical paper) the 870 was the better gun. But, was I dooming my streak of punched tags?

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 crawled 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.

A week ago Monday was 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 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 the head among the foliage. A single golden BB to the back of the skull laid the turkey out flat.

I told this story to Excecutive 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.” Is Toth right? Who out there believes in lucky guns and who among you is fortunate enough to own one?