With hearing that can pinpoint the source of a noise from 100 yards away and eyesight that rivals the power of the finest Austrian spotting scopes, wild turkeys make for one of the most challenging hunts in America. If you’re thinking about trading your shotgun for a bow to make this pursuit even tougher, here are a few things you’ll want to consider.
**Going Blind **
While shotgun hunters can simply pull a trigger to finish the hunt, it takes more movement to draw a bow. For this reason, one of the best accessories a bowhunter can bring into the field is a portable ground blind. Today’s blinds are compact and lightweight and come with pop-up supports that allow for lightning-fast setups.
Makeshift blinds of leaves and limbs will work, too, but they aren’t portable and don’t allow easy shooting in any direction. A turkey hunter will often have to change setups several times to get in position for a shot.
Don’t Stand For This
Shots on gobblers are almost always taken from a seated or kneeling position. Unfortunately, few bowhunters practice shooting from these positions. Sitting and kneeling shots require the use of different muscles from standing shots and require different shot balance. When preparing for turkey season, make sure to practice shooting from the blind as well as from the positions you’re likely to shoot from during a hunt.
Three’s a Charm
Decoys are a must for a bowhunter working turkeys. I’ve found that a three-decoy layout-two hens and a jake-works best.
[pagebreak] The setup is simple: Place the jake facing slightly toward the blind with a hen set low to the ground at a right angle to him. Put the other hen parallel to the jake a few feet away, all of them roughly 15 yards from the blind. This will raise the ire of a mature tom that figures a younger male is stealing his hens. When a tom challenges the jake, he will usually go into strut and turn to face the fake challenger, putting him in the perfect position for a clear shot at the base of his tailfeathers.
There is much debate about which broadhead is best for turkeys. Basically, there are two choices: fixed-blade or mechanical (open-on-impact) broadheads. In my experience, mechanicals are better. Today’s bows send arrows downrange at blistering speeds. While hyper speeds are advantageous in the deer woods, they present a problem where turkeys are concerned.
Fixed-blade heads will typically pass through the bird, allowing him to get airborne. These gobblers will eventually expire in a distant treetop or thick brush, but finding one is near impossible. The key to shooting a turkey with an arrow is to immobilize the gobbler so he can’t fly or run.
For this, mechanicals offer two advantages. First, they use more energy to deploy their blades, which limits arrow penetration. Second, since more surface area strikes the target, more energy is transferred, creating more trauma to the turkey and hindering any potential escape.