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Where to Shoot a Turkey with a Bow

by John Dudley   |  April 25th, 2016 0

When bowhunting turkeys, accurate shot placement is critical. Otherwise, you can count on an exhausting day trying to track down an animal that can not only take flight but sprint at speeds reaching 25 miles per hour.

Many people make the mistake of shooting turkeys on the broad part of the chest. However, this is not where the vitals are hiding. Rather, this is where the plump, juicy meat resides. A turkey’s vitals are tucked between the legs and towards the bottom half of the bird.

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A turkey’s vitals are tucked between the legs and towards the bottom half of the bird. Illustration by Mark Anderson

The best reference is always going to be to use the legs as your starting point for your left to right aim. Regardless of the angle, if there is a separation between the legs then split them with your pin. Then the height of the beard or broad part of the drumstick is your reference up and down.

Broadside Shots
Your goal here is to send your arrow through part of the drumstick, wing bone and vitals with one devastating impact. This prevents the bird from running or flying and makes for a quick recovery.

shot-placement-when-bowhunting-turkey

Your goal here is to send your arrow through part of the drumstick, wing bone and vitals. Illustration by Mark Anderson

If the bird is strutting broadside it can be tougher to see drumsticks. In that case, look for a noticeable band of feathers near the top of the wing and aim just on the top edge of it.

Frontal Shots
Your goal here is to split the legs and elevate your pin until you are at the height of the base of the beard. Make a good shot here and you are certain to have a short tracking job.

turkey-shot-placement-for-bowhunting

Your goal here is to split the legs and place your pin at the base of the beard. Illustration by Mark Anderson

Facing-Away Shots
For a rear-facing shot on a non-strutting bird, split the legs and elevate until you are just above where the wings fold together. Again, this is the height of the base of the beard. On strutting birds that are facing straight away from you, simply aim at the base of the tail fan where all the feathers meet for a devastating hit that will take out both legs and vitals.

turkey-shot-placement-guide

For a rear-facing shot on a non-strutting bird, split the legs and place the pin just above where the wings fold together. Illustration by Mark Anderson

Head and Neck Shots
Finally, it is worth mentioning the growing popularity of large-diameter, guillotine-style broadheads designed specifically for shooting turkeys in the head and/or neck. Regardless of your personal opinion about these shots, there is no denying they are extremely lethal and usually a “hit or miss” proposition that results in either an instantly dead bird or a clean miss.

bowhunting-turkeys
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Related posts:

  1. Bowhunting Shot Placement For Turkey
  2. BOWHUNTING’s Guide to Run and Gun Turkey Hunting
  3. Turkey vs. Windshield: Turkey Wins (Sort Of)
  4. How To Plan the Perfect DIY Turkey Hunt
  5. Introducing the Morrell Half Back Turkey Target
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