March 29, 2012
Bowhunting turkey isn't the parlor trick many believe. Heck, I've shot 60 gobblers with my bow to this point, and know absolutely I'll be shooting another in a couple weeks when Idaho's spring season opens. I'm not even close to being a champion turkey caller, or the best shot around, or even a very patient man when it comes right down to it. In other words, basic skills get the job done, with the right gear and approach.
FIND SOME BIRDS!
Most importantly you need a decent place to hunt. Not the lease where birds get shot up on opening morning, or the farm where your entire family and five cousins belabor turkeys. You need a place that receives light hunting pressure, either an exclusive piece of private ground, somewhere far from population centers or even isolated ground requiring some hiking. You need multiple opportunities in this business. You need birds that aren't totally educated.
BUY A POP-UP BLIND
Pop-up ground blinds are the single aspect in this program that tips odds in your favor. Turkeys live by their eyes. Eliminate that and shooting a turkey can seem almost easy. Positioning for the shot, and especially drawing your bow can be accomplished at your leisure, without detection by a gobbler's sharp eyes.
USE THE RIGHT BROADHEAD
If you're going to bowhunt turkeys you'd better have the right broadhead for the job. This means the most aggressive cutting diameters available. In nearly all cases I choose mechanicals with cutting diameters from 1 1/2 to 2 inches (favorites including NAP's
Gobbler Getter (pictured) — 1 1/2 -inch with blunted, bone-smashing tip -- and Rocket Aerohead's
Hammerhead and Rage
with 2-inch cuts). In states where mechanical broadheads aren't legal, G5 Outdoor's
Striker Magnum with 1 1/2 -inch fixed-blade cutting diameter gets the job done.
Wide-cutting designs increase your margin of error; a single blade reaching over to cut a lung or artery, punching big enough holes that even a thigh or gut shot becomes lethal. They also slow penetration, imparting shock and often leaving the arrow in the bird to slow escape by air or land.
TAKE ONLY CLOSE SHOTS
Turkey's vitals (heart/lung area) are the size of a baseball. Of course head/neck, spine and thighs all constitute lethal hits on these relatively fragile birds, but you always aim for the middle, and there are seemingly more feathers than bird when under pressure. This is where pop-ups come in. Receiving 5-yard shots isn't uncommon, so be patient and wait until you can be sure — be that 20 yards, or 40.
LEARN BASIC TURKEY TALK
That's all you really need to lure mature gobblers into range. Keep it simple and call only as often as you need to keep a bird interested and moving your way. No more, no less. Decoys can help bring in wary gobblers, but I've not found them mandatory in most areas I hunt.
The rest is all about persistence and faith. You can't kill a bow turkey if you take your shotgun. So put the shotgun away and make it happen with a bow this season. It's just not as difficult as you likely believe!