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Archery Tactics for Turkeys


As a dedicated bow hunter, nothing pushes my limits more than bow hunting turkeys. Some may say that bow hunting turkeys is easy, and if you use decoys and pop up blinds, it is very easy and very anticlimactic. As I shared with one fellow who bragged about killing a turkey from a pop up blind with his bow; “you killed a turkey, but you didn’t hunt a turkey.”

Now before I start getting hate mail, I too use pop up blinds to hunt and they have their place, especially when hunting with children or novice who has difficulty sitting still. And they are very effective for killing turkeys since it seems most turkeys completely ignore the presence of a blind. Bit for this article, I want to focus on hunting turkeys with a bow using the same tactics you would if using a shotgun; with no blind at all.
Some would say it is impossible to kill a turkey with a bow while not using some kind of blind to hide the movement, it is indeed difficult, no way around it, but if you want to push yourself as a bowhunter, grab your gear and head out hunting turkeys just as you would with your shotgun.
When I first began this, I quickly realized that I needed a short bow, I often find myself sitting flat on the ground needing to draw the bow. I really like knowing that my bow will not touch the ground during draw, aim and shoot. I shoot a PRIME Shift, with a 31” axle to axle length; this seems about perfect for me. And allows for me to be able to shoot from any position I find myself in while turkey hunting.
Basically the tactics used in hunting turkeys with a shotgun are the same with bow, the only differences are in the use of your hands, and the need to draw. This seems to be the nemesis when bow hunting turkeys. Here are some tips to help in this situation.
First, lower your bow poundage. You need to be able to draw your bow in one fluid slow motion. Too many archers over power their bows and have to contort themselves to get the thing drawn. Less is more when turkey hunting. I lower my bow to its lowest setting to increase my odds of having a smooth draw. I know my shots will not be beyond 25-30 yards anyway, so the need to flatten my arrows by more poundage isn’t necessary.
Second, be able to hold the draw for at least two full minutes. When the turkey presents you with an opportunity to draw you have to take it, but it could be several minutes before you are given a good shot angle or opportunity.
In the areas I hunt it is usually heavily forested, so I use the trees to block the gobblers head and allow me to draw, when he steps behind a tree I draw, but when he steps out he may not have presented me with a good opportunity to shoot. I have to be able to hold full draw for a long time and still make a good clean kill. This is easily practiced at home. – I set a timer for two minutes, turn it on and draw my bow, I hold in the shooting position until the timer sounds, then I aim and shoot at my target. On more than one occasion this has saved me and allowed me to harvest a tom I would not have been able to.
Be flexible and mobile. I have said before and will again, I like to ramble while turkey hunting. Often this finds me still standing up when a turkey commits. Rather than scramble to get a good seat, I stand behind trees and keep calling and getting ready to shoot. Standing gives me the ability to adjust, twist, turn and get ready more than sitting. And is my preferred method when I have the option. Too many turkeys are spooked by trying to get the perfect seat and getting ready. Be ready all of the time.

While these tips cannot guarantee you a kill with your bow this season, give it a try and see if you can harvest a turkey without a blind and you will feel one of the best accomplishments in hunting in the Carolina’s and Georgia.