If you’ve ever wondered about how to hunt turkeys with a bow you’ve come to the right place. Bowhunting for turkeys is a challenging sport that can be extremely rewarding. We’re going to break down what you need to know to transfer your archery skills to turkey season.
Range: As far as range is concerned you should never shoot farther than 2/3 of your typical practice distance. If you generally are hitting 80-yard shots at archery targets then by all means take the 60yd shot. However, like most of us, you should stick to 40yds and closer. The goal isn’t to see how far you can shoot, but rather to see how close you can get the turkey to come to you. The closer your shot, the less the chance of wounding a bird.
Wound Loss: As an ethical hunter you should never take a shot if you are not sure you will quickly kill the animal. This is even more important with turkeys. If the worst happens and you wound a turkey the bird will likely not bleed much if at all. The thick coat of feathers will absorb most of the blood instead of leaving a trail for you to follow.
Another frustrating aspect of a wounded turkey is it will attempt to fly as far away as possible. If it can’t fly it will run away very fast. It will then burrow down in leaves, brush, or whatever it can find. Your odds of recovering a wounded turkey are extremely low. Only take shots you are confident will kill the bird.
Your odds of recovering a wounded turkey are extremely low. Only take shots you are confident will kill the bird.
Archery Equipment: In Michigan you can use a compound or crossbow. With a crossbow, your bolt must be at least 14 inches long and the broadhead must be at least 7/8 inches wide.
You can use several different types of broadheads for turkeys:
Mechanical heads (that fly similar to a field point and open up with razor ‘wings’ upon impact).
- Fixed Blade (sharp fixed heads with a wide cutting area.)
- Turkey Guillotine Heads (long blades that form a cross). You aim these at the turkey’s neck just below the head and if done right they have a guillotine effect. Becoming more popular due to their reputation for either killing the bird instantly or completely missing it. Users claim they result in less wounded birds.
My take: I have not used the guillotine heads yet. I tend to favor the fixed blade heads because of the old “keep it simple” theory. There have been some reports about mechanical broadheads not always opening upon impact. For fixed heads my preference is the Montec G5. They are not cheap at $40 for 3, but are a solid piece of metal and can be resharpened and used again and again.
Where to Aim: Aiming at the right spot on a turkey can be a bit challenging. Their coat of feathers is very thick like armor and their vital regions are small. Here are some scenarios and where to aim.
When the turkey is facing straight at you, you will want to aim in between the base of the beard and the bottom of the neck.
When the bird is broadside to you, you will want to place your arrow on a vertical line with the legs and slightly higher than the horizontal center.
Finally when a bird is quartering towards you, the proper arrow placement will be on a horizontal line with the base of the turkey’s beard and left of the vertical center.
Conclusion: I hope this gives you a good primer on the basics of turkey hunting with a bow. It is challenging, but if you only take ethical shots inside 40 yards, you have a good chance of bagging the bird you’re chasing.