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Bowhunting Hunting Turkey

Tactics For Bowhunting Turkey

by Tracy Breen   |  March 27th, 2012 0

Bring your draw weight down 10 pounds or so. You'll likely have to hold at full draw longer than you would on your average deer hunt. Photo by Tracy Breen.

Turkey hunting is challenging — especially if you’re trying to tag a tom with a stick and string.

Over the years, I’ve watched friends go from a shotgun to a bow. It’s a progression many hunters embark on simply because it’s a challenge.

In most states, the success rate with a bow hovers around 10 percent. Turkeys have a small vital area. And when you consider their amazing ability to see you draw and hear the smallest twig break or bow string creak, you have one heck of a challenge on your hands. The good news is with the right gear and persistence, tagging a tom with a bow isn’t impossible.

If you want to chase turkeys with archery gear this spring, plan on bringing them in as close as you can to your setup. The easiest way to do that is to use decoys. Brett Berry of Zink Game Calls said he brings birds in close by using two or three decoys.

“Two hens and a jake often get a tom cranked up, and he’ll come running in,” said Berry.
Putting your decoys at 15 yards and shooting out to 20 or 25 yards is a great setup. The decoys serve two purposes:

  • They bring the tom in close, and
  • act as a great yardage marker so you know how far away the bird is when he approaches the decoys.

Turkeys can see most movement, so you must conceal yourself the best you can. There are a variety of things you can do to ensure you get your bow drawn without being busted by a tom or his ladies. The most popular choice is using a pop-up blind. Most modern day blinds have a black interior so you can be seen from the outside looking in. Pop-ups can be incredibly effective.

Personally, I prefer the run-and-gun method and hunkering down in the brush when the moment of truth arrives.

Joel Maxfield from Mathews Archery kills several longbeards each spring with a bow and likes using the time-tested gun method of finding a big tree and setting up at the base. “I find an extra large tree and set up right in front of the tree,” Maxfield said. “When the bird approaches, the tree breaks up my outline. When the tom struts or goes behind a tree, I draw my bow.”

Another option is using a crossbow. With a crossbow, you don’t have to worry about the tom seeing you draw your bow because you are cocked and ready to rock.

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