Taking a Tom With a Stick and String
By Tracy Breen
Hunters who want to make turkey hunting a little more challenging this spring should consider bowhunting them. Bowhunting longbeards raises the level of difficulty significantly. Getting a bow to full draw and making a good shot can be near impossible at times so if you plan on bowhunting turkeys this spring you will need a lot of patience and a little luck. Below you will find a few tips to help you succeed this spring if you decide to chase longbeards with a stick and string.
1. Shot placement is everything when it comes to turkey hunting with a bow. You might be thinking that is the way it is with all animals you bowhunt, but turkeys are a little different. If you gut shoot a deer and the arrow enters the body a little high or low, there is still a decent chance you will recover the animal. That is not the case with turkeys. The vitals on a turkey are about the size of a softball. That isn’t very big. If you hit the bird an inch high or low you wont kill it because you will just take out a little flesh and feathers. Often what happens when bowhunters turkey hunt is they make a marginal shot that hits a small portion of the vitals. The bird is mortally hit but won’t die right away. The bird flies away or runs away after the shot and is never seen again. Turkeys are great at running away and hiding. I have shot birds that actually cover themselves with leaves under brush. Finding a wounded bird is extremely difficult. The way to solve this problem is by shooting the bird just above the legs. The reason I like shooting a turkey here is because it takes out the back of their chest cavity and it breaks the muscles going to their legs. When the legs are broken the bird cant run or lift off and fly. Shooting the bird a few inches above the legs often results in the bird dropping in it’s tracks or only going a short distance. Some bowhunters prefer a head on shot, a head shot or shooting them right up the hind end. Taking out their legs and putting the broadhead through their chest cavity at the same time is my favorite shot.
Fixed Vs Mechanical for Turkeys
2. Some bowhunters like using fixed blade broadheads on every type of animal they hunt. I like using fixed blade broadheads sometimes to, just not on turkeys. Mechanical broadheads are perfect for turkeys. A large cutting diameter head will quickly bring down a turkey. Best of all if your shot isn’t perfect the odds are still pretty good that you will recover the bird if you are using a head with a large cutting diameter. The first turkey I ever killed with a bow I made a marginal hit on and I only killed the bird because one blade on my 2-inch cut mechanical head hit the vitals. If I was shooting a smaller broadhead I would have went home empty handed. Can you kill a turkey with a small fixed blade head? Yes you can but we all can make a mistake when shooting so I prefer using a mechanical head with a large cutting diameter it increases my odds of success.
3. When bowhunting turkeys I always use a turkey decoy. Some bowhunters don’t like to use decoys because they can spook gobblers as they approach the fake decoy. I have had this happen but more times than not the decoys bring the birds in close. I typically put place my decoy 12 steps in front of me. I make sure the decoy is facing me. Regardless if the decoy is a jake or hen decoy, an incoming tom will always want to face the bird he is trying to interact with. This will most times than not cause the tom to walk around and get in front of the decoy. When he does this he provides you with an up close shot. Best of all as he comes around the front of the decoy his attention is on the bird not you giving you time to get drawn without being noticed.
Turkey hunting with a bow is both exciting and challenging. If you are looking for a way to spend more time in the woods turkey hunting this spring take a bow instead of a gun. The odds of filling your tag on opening day are much smaller than they are if you hunt with a gun. Your odds of spending more time in the woods and having more fun in the process are much higher with a bow.
If you have never bowhunted turkeys before below you will find a couple broadhead options that will help you put a longbeard in the freezer.
GRIM REAPER CARNI-FOUR
One broadhead that is worth mentioning is the Grim Reaper Carni-Four. This mechanical broadhead comes equipped with four blades. Two of the blades offer a 1-1/2 inch cut and the other two blades produce a 1-1/4 inch size hole. Combined that is a 2.75-inch linear cut. The devastating hole created by this head will quickly bring down a tom. Learn more at www.grimreaperbroadheads.com
Slick Trick RaptorTrick
Another great broadhead is the RaptorTrick from Slick Trick Broadheads. This 2-blade mechanical broadhead comes with a 2”-inch cutting diameter, a 4-edge blone splitting tip which will easily penetrate the feathers and flesh of a big tom. Broadheads that offer a 2-inch cutting diameter are perfect for turkeys. Learn more at www.slicktrick.net.