For most hunters it’s about the challenge and the reward of taking a trophy animal. Bowhunters are especially addicted to the challenge of the hunt. Bowhunting any type of game is challenging to say the least but bow hunting for big gobblers may be in a class all its own.
As turkey hunting has become increasingly popular over the past decade, so have more challenging ways of hunting them. No doubt a turkey’s biggest defense is its incredible eye sight. A turkey is vulnerable to predators and is pretty much scared of everything in the woods – therefore they’re constantly scanning their surroundings for danger.
Once you do get the opportunity at a turkey you better be a good shot because their vitals are about the size of a tennis ball. So it goes without saying that bowhunting turkeys can be extremely challenging. Following a few tips may help you be more successful in the turkey woods this coming season.
Blend into Your Surroundings
You need to start by wearing camouflage from head to toe but even that isn’t enough. The camouflage pattern you choose can also be critical. A turkey can spot when something is out of place or just doesn’t look right. The wrong camo pattern can get you busted fast. Cover cameras, shiny equipment on your bow, and anything that doesn’t blend in. When hunting from a ground blind wear black so you match the inside of the blind. Pay attention to detail when setting up and avoid camouflage mistakes at all costs.
Keep Movement to a Minimum
I’ll admit it’s nice not having to worry about scent control when hunting turkeys. It’s a welcome break from deer hunting in that sense but the birds certainly make up for their lack of smell with their site. It’s amazing what a turkey can pick up on that a deer wouldn’t. Keeping your movement to a minimum is a key factor in drawing turkey within bow range.
I like using a mouth call once they start to draw near to help keep my movement to a minimum. I also like to keep the windows up on a ground blind much higher than I would for deer hunting. This way once I see one coming to a shooting lane – I can crouch down a little in my chair and draw my bow undetected before they hit the bigger window opening in front of me.
Aim Small Miss Small
Most turkey hunters will call 20 yards their comfortable shooting distance on a big gobbler and even so you better be a good shot. I can’t say enough that shot placement on a turkey is the key. Practice shooting prior to the season is a given but even once you are dialed in, it’s still easy to blow the shot.
To help tip the odds in my favor, I like to use a bigger broad head. You should shoot a bigger head than you would for deer hunting. There are quite a few expandable broad heads on the market now with huge cutting diameters just for turkey hunting.
You should also be familiar with a turkey’s vitals. On a broadside shot you want to look at the turkey’s wing almost like the shoulder of a deer. A lot of turkey hunters want to aim below the wing but that is a mistake, you need to aim low and forward on the wing as if it were a shoulder. On a straight-on shot, you aim a 1/2 inch or so above the beard and on a rear shot you aim for the circle just below the first row of tail feathers.
You can also kill a turkey by shooting it in the head or neck. Lobbing a turkey’s head off with what looks like a pair of flying scissors isn’t easy – but it is a sure bet it will kill them. The down side is if you’re off just a little bit the turkey is gone.
If you can blend in well and get your bow drawn without being spotted you’re halfway there. Knowing where to aim on a turkey long before entering the woods is a must. Shot placement with a large cutting broad head will help you bag a big gobbler. Hunting turkeys with a bow is challenging but in my opinion – it’s also more rewarding. Practice these turkey hunting tips and give it a try for yourself this coming turkey season.