Hiking on public land where there are turkey hunters sounds like a recipe for disaster. I don't even like to hunt on public land where there are turkey hunters.
As for the 9mm, he probably just figured you had no intention of taking a shot at a turkey with the handgun. First chore would be getting the turkey close enough. Second chore would be hitting it in a vital area with one shot. Both are relatively tall orders. Still, both are certainly do-able.
Gun control should just be about hitting your target.