A Beginner’s Guide to Archery Turkey Hunting

While hunting for wild turkeys with archery equipment, you need to know some equipment changes and hunting techniques that need to be changed slightly. Turkey hunting with a bow and arrow is altogether different than hunting with a shotgun. The rules and regulations are the same, but the hunting tactics change a great deal.

Turkey eye sight

As an avid archery hunter, archery turkey hunting for me was unsuccessful for about about 10 years. There were so many factors that come into effect that it cost me even just getting a shot off. For instance, turkeys eye sight is about 10 times better than a human’s sight. That is like looking through a set of binoculars at a subject 100 yards away with a 10 power site. Turkeys pick up movement even better than the white tail deer. This makes drawing your bow back extremely difficult without being detected.

Hunting turkey from a blind

When I finally figured out I was getting caught by the turkey’s eye sight I purchased a pop up hunting blind(American Dofhouse). Yes, it cost a pretty good penny, but it made all the difference in the world. Turkeys do not see in 3D like deer do, so the tent is not picked out from that respect, which makes drawing your bow back much easier. The hunting blind I use has a black interior which makes the background dark and difficult for the turkeys to be able to spot you inside.

Hunting Turkey from a Blind

Make sure your set up is tuned for turkey hunting

The next couple of steps I took to improve my chances of bagging a turkey during an archery turkey hunting event were fairly simple and inexpensive. First, I simply lowered the poundage on my bow draw weight, which made it much easier to draw back and hold in a full draw for a long period of a time. It also helped for the simple reason that the broadhead would not penetrate so fast through the body, and possibly would stay in the body, not allowing the turkey to fly off.

Make sure your set up is tuned for turkey hunting

Turkey hunting broadheads

Next, I bought a broadhead specifically made for turkey hunting. This was an expandable broad head with the front of the tip being blunt, and when opened up it was razor sharp for cutting through blood vessels and other body parts. The front of the tip is made blunt so it has knock down power. When looking for this broad head on the internet, look for a specific Turkey Buster broad head. There are a number of these on the market or just a simple spring action hook designed for small game that sets right behind the broad head you use for big game hunting.

Turkey hunting broadheads

The anatomy of a turkey and where to aim

Keep in mind a turkey’s heart and lungs combined are about the same size as a baseball. When hunting with a shotgun you simply aim at the head of a turkey. When archery turkey hunting you have three choices;

1). Straight on looking at you. This can be done by shooting straight through the chest, which has it’s down side, you might shoot and sever his beard off and ruin your trophy. Only you can make that decision. Personally, I took the shot and did lose a small amount of the beard, but this was one of my greatest thrills ever during any of my archery hunts.

2). Broadside shot is a high percentage shot. You take aim right at the base of the wings. This shot will pin the turkeys wings to his body, making it nearly impossible to fly and penetrating his heart and lungs at the same time, making the kill very quick and humane.

3). Straight away in full strut gives you a built in target, if you get my point. Shooting at this spot allows the arrow to penetrate all organs or possibly break his spine. Also, while facing straight away while strutting, the bird cannot see you while drawing your bow back. The next items you may need while archery turkey hunting, if you don’t already have them, are decoys. I like using a set of three. One jake decoy and two hen decoys. Place the three together in a line, with the jake being last. I try to set up in an area where I know the toms like to strut, and the hens come to eat bugs or dust themselves, usually on the edge of a field. Most of the time while archery turkey hunting, in the early morning, I try to set up on the sunny side of the field, setting my decoys no more than 5 to 10 yards away from my tent blind. Setting up your decoys this close to your blind normally will allow the tom to get even closer to you before you decide to shoot.

Turkey calls

Finally, but most important, are your turkey calls. I like to carry several different kinds when archery turkey hunting. A good box call for long distance calling, a slate call for purring , clucking and yelping, and the mouth piece call, which is called a diaphragm. The diaphragm call can be used even while you are pulling your bow back, or holding your bow back while waiting for a better shot. Using any of these calls I recommend you practice and listen to the pros on how to use and call with each one. Many calls are made for a specific sound or different style of calling.

I have found that what works best for me while archery turkey hunting is light clucking and small purrs before they come down from their roost. Once they hit the ground, depending on how far away they are, I might use the long reaching box call in order to make the tom talk back, or the slate call if they are slightly closer. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what you use, the tom has already hooked up with a hen and is not going to pay a bit of attention to you no matter what call you use.

Later in the day I may set up in a different spot, knowing the tom will leave the hen and start looking for another mate. At this time of the day I usually will walk and listen and make a call using my box call and sit and listen. If he talks back to you, your option might be to move closer to him and call again. Or you might sit still and try calling him in to you. If he makes the move toward you, hurry and set up your tent blind and decoys and then be patient.

To wrap it up

As always on this archery website, I will continue to update, and bring in the newest archery turkey hunting equipment for your viewing and more helpful tips. Please continue checking back for new stories and greater details on hunting for wild turkeys with archery, and other bowhunting adventures.

The anatomy of a turkey and where to aim

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