Bowhunters are extremely fortunate in that there are many different animals that they can hunt and depending on your location, you might shoot anything from deer to boar right through to turkeys.
Turkeys can be found in the wild in many places and they make a decent catch. However, if you want to guarantee a consistent kill every time, you must be sure to hit the turkey in just the right spot.
In this article, we are going to be discussing the importance of hitting a turkey properly and giving you some top tips on hunting these gobblers.
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Why Does It Matter Where I Hit The Turkey?
There are two main reasons that you will want to ensure you kill the turkey with your first shot. Primarily, you should always aim for an ethical kill. Many people imagine bowhunters to be aggressive brutes without a second thought for their prey.
But for the most part, we are just regular people and even though we do hunt to kill, we don’t want the animal to suffer unnecessarily. We aren’t heartless.
Hitting the turkey in the right place will ensure that the animal feels as little as possible and takes it down almost instantly.
Furthermore, you need your shot to be quick and effective. The last thing you want is to end up with a turkey that hasn’t gone down or losing your potential kill. Again, if you can learn exactly where to shoot the turkey, you can guarantee that he will fall every time.
Turkeys are one of the most well-loved animals to hunt during bow hunting season and there are many reasons for this. They have delicious meat and plenty of it but they are also exciting animals to watch and will typically respond to being called so hunting them is not as difficult as one might first imagine. In some aspects, at least.
The best time to go looking for turkeys is during the spring when it is mating season. This is because the animals will be much more responsive. You will notice the males strutting about, gobbling loudly to attract a female.
However, while calling turkeys isn’t much of a challenge at this time of year, a challenge certainly presents itself when you start pursuing these amazing animals.
The reason for this is that these flightless birds actually have incredible eyesight which can span 180º. You will need to be more than stealthy when targeting one of these birds but that simply adds to the pleasure of hunting them.
How Shoot A Turkey With A Bow?
This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new turkey hunters but the answer is not as simple as merely choosing a place and going in for the kill. The stance of the bird will depend on where you must aim your arrow.
With that in mind, let’s explore some of the most common turkey stances and what this means for you, as a bowhunter.
If you are used to hunting bigger game than you may not have thought about using a headshot. This is because it is not an effective move with larger animals. However, with turkeys, this is one of the best options because it will kill quickly and there is little chance of wounding the animal.
You might automatically presume that a headshot should be, well, in the head, but for turkeys, you will want to aim a little lower.
The way that a turkey moves can make it very difficult to get them in the head since it is such a small area but if you get it right, you’ve got an instant kill. You are better aiming for the point where the head and neck meet and using a special type of broadhead will typically yield the best results; you can speak to your archery shop about the right type.
When we talk about broadside, we are referring to the side of the turkey, as you might imagine. This gives you a wider space to hit but there is one particular spot that will give you the instantaneous take down that you are looking for.
Many people believe that turkey lungs are at the front of the chest but this is not the case. If you aim here, you will do little more than wound the turkey and you don’t want this type of situation on your hands.
Instead, you should aim for the point where the wing meets the body. This will have your arrow go directly for the heart and lungs which will immediately kill the turkey.
Facing Away, Upright
This is a position that a lot of bowhunters won’t be lucky enough to find a turkey in, unless, of course, they are willing to be patient. The reason for this is that in order to get an accurate shot, the turkey must be standing totally erect and this doesn’t happen all the time.
However, if you have time, you could hedge your bets and wait for him to get into this stance. That being said, you will need him to remain still.
If the turkey is moving around, you will find it extremely challenging to get your arrow in the right spot and do little more than disable the turkey which you will then have to finish off by hand; this is not at all humane.
The reason that shots from this angle tend to be so effective is that you are able to get a direct hit on the spine. Since this is like the highway to the brain, once it is severed, the turkey will die very quickly and more importantly, very painlessly.
One of the best ways to get a turkey into the right position to make this shot is to draw attention by making a few quick putts. This could be enough to get the turkey to raise its head but you will need to act quickly before he lowers it again.
Facing Towards You, Upright
If you find yourself head on to the turkey and he is in an upright position, you might not be in with much luck. Regardless of how well you camouflage yourself, there is still a good chance that the bird will see you before you even have a chance to draw your bow.
But, on the off chance that you are successful, you should try to aim for the area around four inches from the base of the neck where an immediate kill is extremely likely. This is because your arrow will be aiming directly for the turkeys vitals.
Facing Towards You, Strutting
You’re going hunting in turkey mating season, you are going to see a lot of strutting as the animals try to impress in order to mate. This situation presents a great opportunity for hunters since you are almost guaranteed to be able to get a good aim.
Much like some of the other shots we have looked at, you will need to aim for the turkey’s vitals which are located a little way down from the base of the neck.
As you look through your sight, try to aim your arrow at the area where the turkey’s beard begins growing out of the feathers. Hitting here will do one of two things; damage the heart and lungs or break the animals back, killing it almost straight away.
Facing Away From You, Strutting
More strutting means more chances to get a good aim and if the turkey is doing this while facing away from you then you are in with an even better chance as it is less likely that he will spot you.
The best way to get a turkey in this way is by using a decoy and trying to get him really riled up. Once he is in position, you can aim for the vent. This is the area near the anus at the base of the tail. Your arrow will penetrate straight through the bird, cleanly, giving you an excellent result.
Tips For Bowhunting Turkeys
It is all well and good knowing exactly where to hit a turkey to bring it down but there is far more to a successful hunt than just knowing where to shoot.
The best hunters will tell you that they do masses of preparation before heading out into the field. One of the most useful things that you can do is to practice, particularly with moving targets before getting out there.
During non-hunting season, be sure to spend as much time as possible maintaining your skill level and keeping a good feel for your bow. This will ensure that once hunting season comes back around, you will be at the top of your game.
But there are other things that you can do to make sure that every turkey hunting trip yields amazing results.
Get The Right Gear
We talked about the fact that turkeys have incredible peripheral vision and this means that you cannot simply wander into the woods in your usual clothing and expect turkeys to come flocking. Quite the opposite.
One of the most essential parts of your turkey hunting gear is your camo apparel. The more you blend into the surroundings, the more likely you will be to be successful.
It is not enough to wear camo clothing, but an expert turkey hunter will tell you that you absolutely must use camo paint on any exposed skin. Try to cover as much of yourself as you possibly can.
If for some reason, you are unable to use camo paint, you should wear a face covering , gloves and long sleeves.
For safety reasons, you should never wear colors that might attract the turkey, particularly those that are the same as the bird’s head; red white and blue.
Where your arrows are concerned, you would do very well to use something similar to when you are out hunting deer. However, there is the option to invest in some special broadheads, as we discussed earlier. You will need to go to your local archery shop and discuss this with an expert.
Many hunters swear by using portable ground blinds as these will give you the advantage of being totally concealed. Many of these products are easy to carry around and can be moved to wherever there is the most turkey action so it is worth considering investing in this type of equipment.
Earlier on in this article, we talked about how easy a turkey is to call and this is true. If you want to hunt an animal that will as good as come straight to you then a turkey is definitely a viable option.
Unfortunately, most of us were not born with the ability to speak turkey fluently so we have to make do with a turkey call. There are many products out there that accurately mimic the natural call of these birds and during mating season, you will find that you are very successful.
There are four main types of turkey calls and the type you use boils down purely to your personal preference and what is available to you.
- Slate calls are great because they can make a variety of turkey sounds and what’s more, are very easy to master.
- Diaphragm calls are placed inside your mouth and sit on the roof of the mouth. The idea is that you will force air through the reed but this can be tricky to get right. This is probably one of the most compact and transportable options but you will certainly need to practice before getting out into the field.
- Push button turkey calls make use of a button and are the easiest type of call to use. If you want something simple, we would recommend this.
- Box calls do take a little practice to use but once you get to grips with them, they can produce a loud sound which is great if you are at a greater distance from your target.
Turkey Hunting Tactics
Any good hunter will tell you that you cannot merely wander out into the woods whenever you feel like. When you are hunting turkeys, you must go when they are most active; this will massively increase your chances of getting a kill.
In the morning, the turkeys come down from the trees and will often make their presence known by making a lot of noise. This is great for hunters because you can make a noise and listen out for their response, making them very easy to locate.
It can also be very helpful to head out to your hunting location the evening before to pinpoint where the turkeys are roosting. You can do this by using owl or crow calls and wait for their response. You will need to keep repeating the call until you are confident that you know where they are roosting. Come morning, you will know exactly where to go.
Hunting turkeys is a popular activity but getting the shot just right is one of the most crucial parts of this. If you fail to hit the turkey correctly then you risk merely wounding it and this can be distressing for both you and, more importantly, the turkey.
There are several places that you can aim but this will depend on how the turkey is presenting to you. It is also important to make sure that you plan your hunt and have the correct gear, if you want to be successful.