by Cole Daniels
Turkey hunting is a humbling sport. Most hunters end the season shaking their heads and talking about next season. The challenge is part of what makes turkey hunting so addictive. While some guys look for ways to make their hunt easier, others look for even more of a challenge. Archery turkey hunting may fit the bill. Hunting turkeys with a bow adds an element of difficulty without creating an impossible situation.
When hunting turkeys with a shotgun, I prefer to sit against a tree. However, a shotgun doesn’t require a draw and no further concealment is required. It would be a good bet that 95% of archery turkey kills are made from a ground blind. Granted, quite a few fall birds are taken from tree stands by deer hunters who just couldn’t pass up a shot on a gobbler. For effective archery turkey hunting, a ground blind is a necessity. A blind will cover your movement and allow you to draw a bow without detection. When preparing for the season, practice shooting from your knees. Before hunting, practice shooting out of the blind. A shot may look clean out of the sight, yet the arrow could be deflected by blind material. Also, the best camo in a ground blind is black clothing.
There are a few differences in archery hunting as opposed to shotgun hunting. With new advances in chokes and shell technology, a 50 yard shot isn’t out of the question for many shotgun turkey hunters. With a small target area, 30 yards is reaching out there for archery hunters. Set your decoys a bit closer than you would for shotgun hunting and be sure to have plenty of shooting lanes. Some shotgun hunters love to run-and-gun, myself included. However, with ground blinds and archery equipment moving around is pretty difficult. This makes scouting far more important for archery hunts.
The vitals on a wild turkey are immensely smaller than a whitetail. The target area is only about the size of an orange. Shot timing is critical. Taking a shot at a moving bird is most likely going to end in disgust. If the turkey stops broadside, aim for where the wing meets connects to the body. The heart and lungs are right up along the spine. If the bird is facing you, the base of the neck is a great shot. Firing an arrow at a deer facing away from you is a no-no, but it’s not a bad shot on a turkey. If the gobbler is in full strut and fanning, aim right for the rectum and thank him for the bullseye as you hit your release.
After The Shot
Once the arrow connects, pandemonium ensues. If your shot is on the money, the bird will often flip over on it’s back and make the retrieving pretty easy. But sometimes no matter how good you hit them, turkeys will make a retreat. Get a good mark on your bird as it heads into cover. If you see your turkey go down, have another arrow ready. Like deer, sometimes they will lay down but get up again if they are pressured. If your shot wasn’t well placed, give the bird a few hours before trailing it. Gut shot turkeys will typically die soon after the shot.
Hunting turkeys with archery equipment is a great way to make your hunts more enjoyable and improve your skills as an archer. A turkey is a turkey, but hunting them with bow and arrow creates an experience unmatched by the shotgun.
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