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Bowhunting for Turkeys: 3 Advantages to Using a Decapitating Broadhead

Aram von Benedikt Avatar

“Aww, them things will never fly straight!”

My buddy Jeff Charles (known around his Ohio hometown as “The Weapon” due to his unusually lethal presence among the local turkey population) voiced his mistrust of huge diameter turkey broadheads.

“Just give ‘em a try,” I urged.

A novice turkey hunter myself, I was intensely curious how they would perform. Not a week later, Jeff called me, excitement edging the matter-of-fact from his voice. He’d rustled up some “head choppers” as he called them, found that they flew accurately, and took them hunting. He was impressed with the results. Here’s why:

Advantage No. 1: Aim Small, Miss Small
The head/neck region of a gobbler offers a small, clearly defined, brightly colored target to shoot, as opposed to shooting at the vitals. Those are indistinct behind a rippling mass of feathers, and can be extremely challenging to strike with a lethal arrow.

Tip: To achieve good accuracy when shooting these monster broadheads from a compound bow, Jeff recommends full length (5 inch) fletching with aggressive helical, and a slightly stiffer shaft than you normally shoot. Trad bows are a bit easier to achieve good flight from (due to slower arrow speed), but here he advises shooting a minimum of 45 pounds draw weight, and using heavy front weighted shafts to give adequate energy/momentum.

decapitated turkey
A decapitated turkey. Aram von Benedikt

Advantage No. 2: Hit-or-Miss
Unlike shooting at the body with a conventional broadhead, head-shots with large diameter broadheads typically are either immediately lethal, or miss cleanly.

Tip: Poor hits can still happen, so choose your shots responsibly. Remember, turkeys can move their heads rapidly, so long shots are not recommended–Jeff considers 20 yards to be a good maximum range.

Advantage No. 3: Easy Recovery
If you’ve ever shot a tom and watched him fly away with your arrow, you’ll appreciate this one. Turkeys are notoriously frugal when it comes to leaving a blood trail, and with a decapitating broadhead you won’t spend time following a bird on hands and knees through brush and briers, squinting for pin-sized drops of blood.

Tip: When shooting a compound index your broadheads to clear your sight. Tune your bow/arrow/broadhead combination carefully. Practice on an old soft pillow hung in front of your target butt by the corners to avoid damaging those long slender blades. And make sure you baste that turkey properly when you put it in the roaster…