Since today’s crossbows have twice the minimum kinetic energy needed for Cape buffalo, when it comes to broadhead size, bigger is better. Turkeys have a very small kill zone and a strutting bird is more than half feathers. In addition, turkeys rarely stand still and may twist and turn as they approach a decoy. Even at close range, you want as much margin of error as possible, and the larger the head the greater the margin of error.
Jumbo heads fly accurately, yet you need exactly the right turkey behavior.
Jumbo Turkey Broadheads
The above turkey picture doesn’t show one of the four favored shot placements on a turkey, yet if you hit the mark, the turkey dies instantly. When I began hunting turkeys with a bow nearly 20 years ago, I worried that these jumbo heads would not fly well. They do. For them to be effective, the turkey must have its head high and its neck stretched. I shot a big gobbler at 15 yards with a crossbow but when the blades of the large head hit the wing butt, the arrow bounced off. The turkey looked stunned and then walked off as I tried desperately to recock the bow.
The Tominator is a giant expandable head.
Expandable Broadhead Options
Expandable broadheads have the advantage of flying like target points yet still delivering huge wound channels. The Tominator has over three inches of cutting surface and is my personal favorite. Hybrid heads that offer cut-on-contact blades and two or more additional blades that deploy are excellent because they still fly well (test first) and deliver maximum tissue damage.
Here are the four traditional aiming spots on a gobbler.
Where to Aim?
Turkey hunters should have the four placements committed to memory and don’t forget my favorite, the base of the neck. A good way to help hone shot placement skills is to look at pictures online or in a magazine and pick out the exact aiming point. “Aim small, miss small” has never been more relevant than with turkey hunting.
Expandable broadheads fly consistently for great accuracy.
Fixed or Mechanical?
Both are lethal if you hit the kill zone exactly. The trick is to maximize tissue damage in case your arrow is off by an inch or two. Remember, a wounded turkey may fly away and leave no blood trail. If the bird runs, it will hide in tall weeds or thick vegetation making it very difficult to find. I believe that large, hybrid, mechanicals offer the greatest advantage. Heads like the Grim Reaper Hybrid have two cutting blades and additional blades that deploy on impact, giving a large 4-blade wound.
Be sure your fixed heads fly like target points.
Fixed Blade Accuracy
The larger the diameter of a fixed blade head, the more likely it is to wind plane and deviate from the striking point of a field point, the reason that most hunting heads max out at 1 1/4 inches. The heads shown above fly like my target points and will create a three-blade would channel. If I shoot for the neck, these heads give me a better margin of error than an expandable that only provides a large cutting diameter after it strikes the turkey. If you hunt from a blind, use a tripod rest and your arrows should hit exactly where you aim.
Feathers make up more than half the size of a strutting tom.
This image should be a part of every bowhunting article because it dramatizes the small size of a turkey’s kill zone. If you use expandable broadheads, the body shot may be your best bet, while a fixed head increases success on a neck shot. Notice that a non-strutting turkey is a much better target because you don’t have to guess where the vitals are. Should a gobbler become suspicious and begin to walk away, an arrow in the middle of its back will down it instantly.
Practicing on a life-like target is critical for consistent success.
Realistic Practice is a Must
A paper or foam bull’s eye has little relevance to a wild turkey. Serious turkey hunters should invest in a 3-D decoy or use Morrell’s Back-to-Back targets that offer a broadhead-friendly kill zone of a turkey on one side and a whitetail deer on the other. Literally the best of both worlds. You owe it to yourself and the game you pursue to pop up a blind and go through the full practice regimen. Shoot through a small window, use a tripod, and set your target at various angles. When several mature gobblers fall for your ruse and approach decoys at a stone-throwing distance, your heart will beat out of your chest. Practice doesn’t make perfect, realistic practice does.
Plan for success.
Prepare for Success
The blind was up before the season, rain fell that morning, I had all my gear stored in the blind, and made a silent entry. My Gearhead bow was dead on and a gobbler came to my jake decoy where a neck shot dispatched it instantly. The broadhead you choose is important, but only a part of the total plan. If you are serious about ambushing a gobbler, scout now, get permission, and post a blind. Spring gobblers are not easy, but your extensive preparation can punch the tag. Good luck.