Sure, a lot of guys go after turkey with a scatter gun. However, if you want to make a tough hunt even tougher, try it with archery gear. Bowhunting turkey is without a doubt one of the most demanding, yet most exciting experiences you can have in the spring woods. But, before you try to call in a “Thunder Chicken” and close the deal with stick and string there are a few gear options that you should consider.
Tackling turkey with a bow takes a few special measures to ensure success but they are worth the effort.
A Bow that's Silent Yet Smooth as Butter
Unlike whitetails or other big-game, turkeys don’t demand a high-poundage bow rig and lightning fast arrow speeds. What they do demand is reaching full draw undetected. This is especially true if you are using natural camouflage to conceal your movement. If you are in a ground blind most of your movement will be hidden; depending on the quality and size of the blind and a few other factors. In short, choose a bow that draws smooth as butter. If not, you can simply reduce your current draw weight.
Turkey Arrows a Sharpie Can Fix
No special arrows needed here. In fact, the same shafts you use for deer, elk or bear will work just fine. However, you might consider changing one thing about your current arrows - the fletching. While bright colors are great for big-game hunting, turkeys see color much like we do; unlike deer that see mostly black, white, gray and some color in the blue and red spectrum. If you don’t want to replace your fletching or you simply need a quick fix, a permanent marker always does the trick.
Practice shooting from a kneeling or sitting position before going after turkey. This will be the typical stance when shooting from a blind.
Large Broadheads Specifically for Turkey
This is where your decisions on gear get critical. You can get by with some things, but a poor broadhead choice is not one of them. The wrong broadhead will allow your turkey to either fly away unscathed or do so with just enough life left to die somewhere else. Neither is acceptable.
When choosing a broadhead a large cutting swath is preferred. Mechanicals make this an easy option as many are made with wide cutting diameters. In fact, most manufacturers are now making broadheads designed specifically for turkeys. For the most part entry and exit wounds are not as important as delivering maximum shock to the bird - even if the arrow doesn’t pass through.
Broadheads like the Muzzy More Turkey Broadhead (shown here in a closed position) are devastating on gobblers even when the shot is just a little off its mark.
Turkey Decoys for Crafty Birds
The biggest asset a decoy brings to the table is that it takes the attention off of you and puts it on the turkeys desire to breed. They are also good for bringing in birds from great distances. If a bird can spot your decoy (and hear you) there is a better chance he will come in. Of course that isn’t always the case. Crafty birds are notorious for hanging up just out of sight. I like to use models that are lightweight, portable and set up lightning fast. Mountain gobblers simply don’t allow for very elaborate set ups like you see on television.
On-the-Go Turkey Calls
There are hundreds of turkey calls on the market and each are unique in their own way. Perhaps the most versatile is the standard mouth call. The beauty of this call is that you can make all of the sounds you need without moving your hands. This might not be a major issue if you are hiding inside of a ground blind. If so, enjoy all of the variances between a diaphragm, box and slate call. However, if you are caught outside of your hidey-hole and a bird is closing in fast, moving your hands to work a box or slate call just isn’t an option.
Turkey Camo Ninja Style
If you are hunting from inside a blind you can relax about which pattern to wear. In that instance all you need is standard black. This will allow you to practically disappear into the backdrop of the blind. If you are on the ground then choose your camo pattern wisely. And while we can debate favorite camo companies and patterns for days, the bottom line is chose one that will work well in your region during the time of year you will be hunting.
Don’t dismiss the value of scouting cameras when it comes to turkeys. As with deer, they can provide vital information on movement and feeding patterns. Tag your turkey trail cam photos in DeerLab and you'll be able to get a good idea on various patterns. Need help getting photos of Turkey? Check out our Turkey Trail Camera Tips.
Face Paint Rambo Would be Proud Of
No matter where you hunt turkey you must cover your face and hands or its game over. However, don’t make the mistake of wearing a face net for the first time in the turkey woods. A face mask can sometimes change your anchor point when shooting your bow and that can drastically alter your arrows impact point. Therefore, either practice with the mask you plan to hunt with (to check for shooting problems) or simply ditch the mask for standard, old-school face paint. I prefer the latter.
Stay Positive and Have Fun
Tagging a turkey with a bow is not an easy task. Yeah, I know it might be on television. But this is the real world. Reaching your goal won’t happen overnight. Just try not to get discouraged too quickly with the challenge of bowhunting turkeys because take it from me - it’s worth the wait.