The challenges of turkey hunting with a bow
Will Jenkins 07.03.13
This is my third season chasing the wild turkey with my bow, and I’ve yet to kill one. I’d like to make a lot of excuses, but the bottom line is it’s hard. Here I’ll discuss some of the challenges of bowhunting turkeys and hopefully some ways to combat them.
The first challenge is drawing a bow within view of a turkey’s keen eyesight. I’ve drawn undetected several times only to miss or be denied a shot. The key is planning the shot both before and during the hunt. The simplest solution is hunting from a store-bought ground blind. My own solution is having natural blinds throughout a property because I like to have options and stay on the move. Aside from just having cover, try to wait until the turkey’s vision is obstructed by a tree or other debris.
Now, you’re on the ground, bow in hand, that big tom is on his way in, and you’ve got your bow at full draw. Where do you aim? Gun hunters have it easy — shoot them in the head — but with a bow that’s an awful small target unless you are using a very large diameter broad head. You will need a level of confidence in your accuracy to choose the best option. If you’re a great shot then go for the head or neck. If you’re not confident in hitting that small of a target then go for the vitals. Don’t fall into the big game trap and aim for the chest — if you do, you’ll be getting feathers and meat, no vitals. You basically want to aim for center mass. When he’s facing you aim between the base of his neck and root of his beard. Facing away the tail feathers will basically make a bullseye. Broadside at full strut, aim in the zone between the base of the neck and root of the beard and move back to the leading edge of the wing. These should put you in vitals or in the spine each time, which ultimately means you’ll be eating well this spring.
If you’ve gotten through all of that then you have a bird flopping in front of you. You’ve gotten past the challenges of the bow and killed one of North America’s most iconic animals and one of our best conservation efforts. Killing any animal with a bow is a trophy, whether it’s a strutting old tom or a spastic and excited jake.