If you want to come out of the woods with more spurs over your shoulder and fans flopping in the breeze behind your head, follow these 5 must-do tips.
1 - Don't Be A Hero
I pull between 70 and 72 pounds when hunting big game. Turkeys are small game, and they are thin-skinned and light-boned. For this reason, I save my shoulder and drop my poundage to between 60 and 65 pounds during the spring. Yes, this is a personal preference, but I come across many turkey bow-goers pulling too much poundage each year.
Perform this test: sit with your butt on the ground and your legs in front of you. Hold your bow in front of your body, clip on your release, and draw your bow. You're pulling too much weight if you can't pull the string back in a single, fluid motion. If you have to point the riser toward the sky or down at the ground to get more leverage, you will create extra movement in the ground blind, and you'll especially bugger birds if you're out of the blind using a bow-mounted decoy. Don't be timid about dropping your draw weight; you can always crank it back up during the fall.
2 - Large Cut Broadheads, Please
If you're shooting a vented fixed-blade broadhead, you're doing yourself a severe disservice regarding turkey hunting. We've already covered that turkeys are thin-skinned and light-boned but have lots of black feathers. When shooting a vented fixed blade, those feathers instantly get sucked into the vents, gum up, and then cover the cutting edge of every blade. Plus, fixed-blade broadheads don't have massive cutting diameters. This is by design — the smaller diameter of the head, the better it flies downrange. However, when hunting turkeys, you want the opposite. You want a small-diameter head that flies like a bullet with large-cutting blades tucked into the ferrule. Upon impact, an extensive cutting (two-inch is my go-to) pair of blades deploy, sever feathers, and cause massive trauma.
3 - Where Do I Shoot?
Due to their dark feathers and lack of body definition, knowing the exact location to place your arrow can be difficult. Follow the guide below, and you'll be good to go.
Broadside – Whether the bird is in strut or not, divide his body into thirds. You want to be in the middle third and, if anything, toward the top of that third. Hit a tom low, and you'll watch him go. My broadside aiming point is about two inches back from where the wing butt disappears into the body. Hit the bird here, and you get all the goodies.
Quartering Toward – A quartering-toward shot is complex, and I typically wait for a full-frontal. However, if this is your shot, I try to put my arrow into the wing butt or slightly in front of it, about two inches to the quartering side of the bird's beard. This will break the wing at the joint and give your arrow a good angle to catch other vital organs. Again, stay in the top third.
Quartering Away – As with big-game animals, this shot is money. Remember to stay in the middle third, come up the back leg, and let your pin find the distinct line behind the wing and below the tail fan. This happens when the bird is in strut. Slide your arrow in this spot, and it's game over.
Full Frontal – This is my favorite shot on a turkey. Yes, it's more marginal, but I know that if I do my job and execute it, it's 100 percent lethal. Let your pin settle above the bird's beard and start pushing and pulling.
Facing Away – Take the Texas heart shot. You want to put your arrow right at the base of the fan feathers. If the bird isn't in strut, hit him right in the middle of the back, halfway up the body.
4 - Get A Turkey Target
I will gladly drop some coin on a 3-D turkey target. No, they don't last as long as larger 3-D builds, but I credit hours and hours of shooting my Delta McKenzie Strutter Turkey to my stick-and-string turkey success.
I love this target because it's lightweight, and I can easily position it to any of the turkey body postures listed in Tip #3.
Practice shooting the target out your ground blind, and if you plan to use a bow-mounted decoy like those from Ultimate Predator Gear, practice shooting the target with the decoy on your bow from kneeling and flat-on-your-butt positions.
5 - Patience!
If you go the ground blind and decoy route, exercise patience. Too many turkey hunters rush the moment and then are left pounding their fists, wishing they'd let the scene play out. Archery turkey hunting is a close-range game. I set my decoys 12 yards from my ground blind, and as long as the tom or toms are in strut or going in and out of strut while they work the decoys, you have all the time in the world to pick your spot and make a lethal shot. If a tom drops strut and tucks his head, you better make it happen quickly.
Patience also needs to be had by the bow-mounted crowd. This is easier said than done. Having a tom, or often multiple toms, charge a decoy strapped to your bow makes the heart tick a little faster. Stay patient. As long as the bird or birds are moving toward the decoy — blowing up into strut and going out of it — they have zero clue. If a bird or birds arent' going into strut but are working toward the decoy, you may need to prepare for a little longer shot, but remember to stay patient and let the bird get as close as possible. I've killed birds at less than five yards using a bow-mounted decoy. Two seasons ago, I shot a tom, and when he turned to run after the arrow splashed through him, he kicked dirt up on my legs. It was thrilling.
Follow these five tips and bag more springtime butterballs.