Getting a tom with a shotgun can be hard enough but when you decide to do it with your bow, the hunt becomes harder. In this article I address three common questions regarding hunting wild turkeys with a bow and arrow:
1. What is the best type of broadhead for bowhunting turkeys?
Broadhead choice is a matter of preference and individual performance. My preference is mechanical. They are easy to tune and they fly smoothly like field tips. I prefer a 3-blade head that make a Wide cut, such as the 2” Whitetail Special from Grim Reaper Broadheads. Another benefit of a “mechanical” is the blades expansion of your broadhead usually causes it to stay with the turkey.
If your gobbler runs or flies after the shot, they rarely leave a good blood trail. The ideal shot is to accurately place an arrow that penetrates at least one wing butt, if not both, and hits the vitals. Done right, this results in a quick kill and also a bird that is unable to fly.
To me the best broadhead is the one you can confidently shoot into a gobblers smallish, vital area consistently. The last thing you want to wonder about is your arrow flight when a Longbeard is spitting and drumming 20 yards away.
2. When hunting for turkeys with a bow, your setup is critical. I often get the question regarding which is better, hunting from a blind or from the ground? In my opinion, both are effective options. The real question is what type of “turkey chaser” are you and what is the situation.
If you’re bowhunting wild turkeys for the first time, you will quickly learn how impressive the wild turkey is at picking up movement. It wasn’t until I toted a bow in the turkey woods that I actually appreciated the eyesight of wild turkeys.
The first spring I hunted turkeys with a bow, I quickly spooked 8-10 gobblers. It takes practice getting your hunting setup right on a wild turkey. With a bow, I need them a gobbler 20-30 yards to feel confident that I can shoot such a small target. I think your setup is critical.
Blind or ground?
I have used both. For me, if I know where a gobbler likes to hang out and strut and can setup a blind without him seeing me, then a ground blind is a great option. What is interesting about turkeys and blinds is, in my experience, turkeys are more “forgiving” than whitetail deer in a quick set up scenario. I am the type of turkey hunter that likes to “run and gun.” Sitting for long periods in a ground blind is not my idea of fun. Every person is different, and for me, I enjoy walking the woods and trying to strike a “hot” bird.
Therefore, I prefer the ground setup mainly because of my style of turkey hunting. Again though, if I have a bird roosted and I know where he likes to strut, I jump at the opportunity to be sitting in a blind at daylight in hopes he would come to my calling and decoys placed 15 yards in front of my blind.
Hunting from the ground, as I have already mentioned, is very difficult for many reasons. You need the gobbler to get in that 20-30 yard range. You cannot draw your bow until they do. This requires attention to detail on your camouflage, your setup, and your decision on when to actually draw. My choice is the Mossy Oak Obsession pattern. It blends into the Spring woods the best.
3. My goal is putting as many factors in my favor as I can. I setup on my knees with my left shoulder facing towards the direction I think the bird is going to come. I find a bush or tree that allows me to have good visibility in front of me while being completely blocked on my sides and back. As if coming to full draw on a gobbler is not hard enough, add a few hens or a subordinate gobbler or two, and the challenge increases dramatically.
Finding the right time to draw is the biggest challenge when hunting without a blind. If you love bowhunting, you will love bowhunting for turkeys.
The most common mistakes that bowhunters make is not being patient and not learning the softer calls that are necessary to get that gobbler in to 10-20 yards. I admit that I’m one of the more aggressive callers. I cannot help it. I love the interaction.
Something runs through my body every time I hear a tom respond to my calling. There is just something about hearing a tom gobble that keeps me coming back again and again.
Cuts, cackles, kee kees, excited yelps, are all great and can really get a gobler fired up. But it is the soft clucks and purrs that will bring that tom in those last few critical yards that are needed with a bow.
What I will say is hunting with a bow does require a turkey hunter to be more patient than the typical run and gun shotgun hunter. A successful bowhunt requires you to let the gobbler come to you and once spotted, coax him in with yelps, purrs and clucks.
Best of luck bowhunting turkeys this spring!