Bowhunting Gear for Turkeys



Your deer hunting bow will double nicely for turkeys. If you shoot a 65- to 80-pound compound, you might want to lower its draw weight to 55 or 60 pounds. This allows you to minimize movement and draw smoothly—no “cheating up.” You should also be able to hold draw for a long time as you nervously wait for a gobbler to work in and offer a good shot.

If your bow does not have a factory camouflage finish, cover it with Realtree® or Mossy Oak® tape. Sunlight glinting off a varnished bow limb can spook a turkey. Make sure your bow is quiet. Oil it, and attach new string silencers. Use moleskin around the over-draw and arrow rest.

Arrows and Broadheads

The lightweight aluminum or carbon shafts you use for deer work fine for big birds. Use sharp, 90- to 125-grain broadheads. If you go with a fixed, 3-blade head consider using a spring stopper. A stopper, which attaches to a shaft just behind a broadhead, helps to keep an arrow from passing too quickly through a turkey.

Many hunters swear by mechanical broadheads for toms. These heads are accurate and open on impact, cutting a big hole in a turkey’s body. They are definitely worth a look.


Most archers practice from the standing position, firing arrows either from the ground or an elevated platform. But when bowhunting turkeys you generally shoot from the kneeling position, so practice likewise.

Buy a couple of 3-D turkey targets—maybe an alert jake and a strutting longbeard. Set ’em out; back up; kneel down; and fire away at the vital rings. Shoot from 10 to 30 yards. Practice a lot before a spring or fall season. Turkeys are small critters, and their vital areas are tinier yet.

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Bowhunting Tips

  • Approach a gobbling turkey carefully, trying to slip within 125 yards of his roost or strut zone. ·

  • Kneel against a big tree, fallen log or patch of brush that will help break your outline. Put some foliage and brush in front of you, but make sure it won’t impede the smooth draw, swing and release of an arrow. ·

  • Scan the foliage to make sure you have at least two clear shooting lanes out to 25 yards. Trim arrow lanes if you must. ·

  • A pop-up camouflage blind is excellent for bowhunting turkeys in the spring or fall. It conceals movement as you call and draw on a bird. Set a blind on a ridge or field edge where turkeys often come to strut or feed. Carry along a folding stool that will let you sit comfortably as you yelp to birds. Some hunters like shooting over the top of a blind from the sitting position. ·

  • Master a diaphragm call. You can yelp, cluck and purr a turkey close while drawing your bow and holding an arrow back. ·

  • Try the old double-team trick. One guy sets up to shoot while his buddy calls from a hidden position 25 yards back in the brush. As a turkey rivets his attention on the caller’s clucks and yelps, he might right walk right into the shooter’s lap. ·

  • Set decoys (if legal in an area) in a clear shooting lane 15 to 20 yards from a blind. A gobbler might key into the fakes and walk in, offering a shot.

Making the Shot

Drawing an arrow on a spooky, sharp-eyed turkey is tough! Pull your bowstring when a bird’s head dips behind a tree, rock, fallen log or patch of brush. Or draw when a strutting tom turns away from you and hides his head behind his big fan.

Turkeys are notorious string jumpers, so let them walk within 25 yards before firing. Fifteen- to 20-yard shots are better yet. Remember to look for any arrow-deflecting limbs or saplings that might cause you to miss a bird.

Unless you can shoot like William Tell, don’t aim for a turkey’s apple-size head. Shoot for the body vitals. When a turkey is facing you, aim for the center of its chest. Shoot for a tom’s upper back if he turns and faces away. When a turkey is broadside, place a sight pin on the base of a wing.

Concentrate on a smooth release and follow through. If you see or hear an arrow strike feathers and meat, bolt to the turkey fast. He’ll flop and roll around. Anchor him on the spot so he can’t run or fly away.

Then let out a war whoop because you’ve accomplished one of the greatest feats in turkey hunting!


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