For many people, hunting is a fall sport that wraps up in November or December. Some hunters stretch the hunting time of year into January and beyond by hunting waterfowl.
But whether you finish your hunts in late fall or late winter, all hunters know that bummer realization that your next hunt is more than half a year away.
But wait! Many states have spring turkey seasons that offer you a hunting fix to help tide you over till fall rolls around again.
However, lots of hunters who might be great at chasing big game do not know much about turkey hunting. Whether you are new to turkey hunting or new to hunting them with a compound bow this article should have something for you.
If you are switching from big game animals to turkeys, one thing you want to make sure you do is to buy specific broadheads for your turkey hunts.
There was a time when hunters were forced to use the same broadheads for both and the results left a lot to be desired on the turkey side of things.
Today, there are many different broadhead choices designed specifically for turkeys. Most of the best options are mechanical broadheads, so if you hunt in a state where those are not allowed, your options will be narrowed down significantly.
However, there are still several quality products available if you search for fixed-blade turkey broadheads.
After considering the legal limitations, the next element to account for is where you plan to hit your turkey. There are a lot of broadheads available that are designed to be used for head and neck shots.
Perhaps the most popular and prominent example of this is the Gobbler Guillotine by Arrowdynamic Solutions.
If you plan to shoot them in the body, there are a host of choices designed to do the job well.
The basic ideas behind broadheads intended for use on turkeys are cut big holes, slow down the arrow on impact so it does not pass through, and impair the movement of the turkey so it does not take off and die unrecovered.
Most of your favorite broadhead manufacturers make turkey broadheads.
Notes on Shot Placement
As alluded to in the broadhead selection process, your two main choices for shot placement are:
- or body/vitals.
A head or neck shot is a pretty straightforward target since turkeys spend quite a lot of time with their heads high. In most cases, the shot is either a clean miss or a clean kill.
If possible, let the turkey come to a stop before attempting this shot, as a turkey head can move quite a lot while they are walking or strutting.
The best angle at the vitals is a broadside shot on a relaxed (not strutting) bird. You want to aim for the point where the wings connect to the body, which is also roughly at the top of the legs.
This shot should take out its vitals as well as break one or both wings. If you use a broadhead intended for the job, it should also stop the arrow in the bird and prevent it from flying.
If you shoot the turkey head on you want to aim a few inches below the base of the neck to hit the vitals.
When is a Turkey in Range?
For many experienced bow shooters, there is going to be a pretty big disparity between how far you can accurately shoot and how close you want to get a turkey before taking your shot.
Even if you can hit your archery target at 100 yards, you want to take shots at turkeys inside of 30 yards.
One of the tricky things about shooting and recovering turkeys is they can fly. If you hit a turkey with a less than ideal shot, they can be very difficult to recover. Getting them close is the best way to assure your arrow hits them hard in a good spot.
How to Get Them into Range
Now that we know what to shoot them with, where to shoot them and how close to get them before shooting them, it is time to move onto the easy part: getting them close enough to shoot.
As I am sure you have guessed, most of the time that is not actually the easy part. In fact, finding and attracting turkeys consistently is a book’s worth of instruction.
However, there are a handful of quick tips that can get you moving in the right direction. Just like all other types of hunting, making note of each encounter and experience and learning from them will greatly increase your success rate over time.
Sit or Stalk
The two most popular turkey tactics are to either take a stand and try to call birds into you or cover some ground, find the turkeys and then move in on them.
Some hunters move close and then call the turkeys to them and others will try to stalk within effective bow range.
A Place to Hide
Ground blinds are a pretty popular choice for turkeys because you are calling them from a realistic height and a bow shot from the same level as the turkey is a little more ideal than a high angle shot from a tree stand.
You can also build a natural hide out of local vegetation.
Decoys are often very effective when paired with calling because the combo really plays on their spring mating instincts.
Depending on what kind of calling you do and how birds are reacting, you can use a single Tom or Jake, a single hen or a mating pair.
There are a ton of resources out there about calling turkeys and a lot of options for calls- there are locator calls, shaker calls, push button calls, diaphragm calls, slate calls, box calls and more.
The basic ideas of the calls are to locate and draw in mating-ready birds. Box calls and push button calls are two of the easiest ways to get started calling turkeys.
There is a good chance as you get into turkey hunting it will become far more than just a hunt that helps fill the void between two big game years. Turkey hunting, especially with a bow, offers its own unique challenge and thrill.
Hopefully, this article gets you started in the right direction and through some experience and continual learning, you discover the joy of turkey hunting with a bow.