In the world of turkey hunting, there are primarily two groups of individuals: those who prefer to use a stick and string and those who prefer to use shotguns. Now, there is a crossover between these two groups, but there are some hunters who are strongly passionate about their weapon of choice. While it is true that modern day bows are far from primitive, it takes more effort to use effectively than a shotgun.
When it comes to bow hunting turkeys, things are quite different than using a shotgun. First, it can be difficult to draw a bow on a turkey unless you are in a concealed blind. Gobblers have incredibly excellent eyesight, so it is almost impossible to sneak anything past them. The placement of a shot is crucial since there isn’t a shot pattern involved with a single arrow. In the event that the mark is missed by an archer, it’s tricky to get another shot before you’re busted. These issues aren’t present when you are using a shotgun.
Regardless of these challenges, though, there are many hunters that will still opt to hunter gobblers with a bow. Why, you may ask? Some may choose to do because of the additional challenges that it presents. After all, if you are able to successfully beat a turkey on its own turkey with a bow, you should give yourself a pat on the back.
Now, if you decide to go this route, you should equip yourself with some turkey bow hunting techniques to ensure you are ready for what lies ahead of you.
Basic Turkey Hunting Gear
The great news about turkey hunting gear is that most of it will ultimately be the same regardless of whether you hunt with a bow or a shotgun. You will need quality camouflage clothing, turkey calls, turkey decoys, as well as a backpack with some essential items like your licenses, a knife, etc.
For bow hunting turkeys, you will need some specific items. For instance, you will obviously need a bow that you are comfortable using and accurate with. Make sure that you practiced during the offseason so that you are ready to go when the season opens.
Durable arrows are also necessary that are equipped with your preferred broadhead type. The type of broadhead will be based on your own preference. Some prefer the guillotine style, while others opt for the fixed-blade style. One example of the fixed-blade broadhead is the G5 Strike, which is all-steel and has replaceable blades in case it gets buried in the ground or swipes a tree. Regardless of the broadheads that you choose, make sure you’re accurate with them. Take the time for some field tests with some cardboard or paper so that you’re familiar with the way it works.
The primary distinction between hunting turkeys with a bow and a shotgun is proper shot placement. Most individuals are not familiar with the best place to shoot a turkey with a bow, resulting in missed shots or maimed birds. With a shotgun, you aim for the neck and head, but with a bow, you aim for the body. By aiming for the bird’s vitals, there is an increased percentage for a more ethical kill. The arrow will inhibit the turkey’s ability to run or fly off, assuming the arrow remains in the bird, minimizing the risk of losing it. A properly placed shot is going to eliminate that chance more than anything else.
Methods and Setups
Once you have the hunting gear that you need, you need to take your bow hunting tactics into consideration. You will start similar to the way you would if you were going shotgun hunting—with preseason scouting. Any time that you spent out in the woods scouting during the late winter until the day the season opens will help you see the bigger picture. You will take this time to learn where the turkeys spend the majority of their time, and you will locate the ideal spot for you to set up a blind.
It is technically possible to kill a turkey with a bow without using a blind, though it is definitely not likely. Drawing a bow requires significantly more movement than you think, and if you’re out in the open, turkeys are going to notice. To improve your odds, you will want to set up a ground blind in your preferred destination a week or two before opening day. If it is private land, make sure to brush the blind in well and allow time for animals to get used to it. If it is public land, you’ll need to risk leaving it there or risk spooking the turkeys—one or the other. Within the security of your blind, you’ll be able to move a lot more, making it possible to take your children with you or film your hunt. With a concealed blind, you can aggressively use a pot call or box call and face it in different directions in response to gobbles from turkeys in the area. There is no need to keep it hidden in your lap. This suggestion alone can make turkey bow hunting easier.
Another good method for bow hunting is focused on the actual setup. When hunting from a blind, you aren’t very mobile. Therefore, you need to ensure that your decoys bring the turkeys right where you want them. If you are bow hunting, the decoys should be set up within about 10 to 15 yards from your blind. If the turkeys come all the way in, you’ll have a chip shot. If they hang further out, then depending on your maximum ethical range and the conditions, you may still be able to get the shot in. In addition, your decoys should be faced quartering away from your blind and looking in the way that you expect the turkeys to enter the field or the lane that you are hunting. When the gobblers look past the decoys, you want to ensure that they do not see your blind. As the gobblers come closer, they will flank the decoys, providing you with a broadside shot.
In the event that you miss your shot, do not panic. Make sure that your G5 Headloc Quiver is right next to you or attached to your box and get another arrow nocked. As long as you remain concealed in the blind and still, there is a good chance you will get another opportunity to take a shot before the turkey wises up. That’s the beauty of turkey bow hunting!
You should now be able to understand the differences between turkey bow hunting and shotgun. There are slightly different variations in the setup and tactics. However, once you have been able to bag a turkey with a stick and string, we are almost positive you’ll be hooked and won’t want to go back to the shotgun. If nothing else, there won’t be any pellets to pick out of your dinner!
If you would like to learn more about the gear that you need or would like to talk shop, contact us at Full Draw Archery in Huntsville.