Why would you go after a turkey? Because turkey bowhunting could prove to be an adventurous experience that you have had in your near past.
Delicious meat, the extra-ordinary visionary and auditory power of the Turkeys could be the most tempting points for a bow hunt, but there is a lot more that we would be discussing here in this Turkey hunting guide.
Best season for turkey bowhunting:
Spring season is the most appropriate time to bow hunt Turkey. During this period, luring a wild Turkey to the right place is a lot easier in comparison to the rest of the year.
Spring is the breeding season of this wild species, and they are receptive to calling. So, you can use this technique in framing the species, however, it is not that easy, and this is what makes the entire bow hunt exciting.
They have an extra-ordinary hearing ability and eyesight, which makes them one of the most vigilant species that you can find in the forest.
But the right gear and expert technicians can make your hunt a success. We will be discussing all of them in the upcoming sections.
Turkey hunting and State rules:
Each state has different rules and regulations for Turkey bowhunting, so you need to check your state regulation for it.
Generally, fall was considered as the main hunting season for this species but that was before the decline of the population. In between, there came a time when only 30000 Turkeys were left nationwide.
This led to the restrictions imposed by each state, and only spring season hunting was allowed, but now as the population levels have stabilized, more than 40 states have allowed fall hunting.
Your age and experience could matter in acquiring a hunting license. The first time hunters are often given an apprenticeship license, and they need to be accompanied by an experienced hunter.
First comes your dress. You should dress up, keeping in view the 180-degree vision of your prey.
The turkeys can see you coming from quite a distance. Even if you manage to get close, your dressing would definitely make you easily discoverable. So, you need to use camouflage apparel to dodge the wild animal.
Make sure you don’t use red, white, or blue in your dressing as a Turkey might misperceive you as one of its kind. This could be dangerous, so avoid it!
Right kind of bow, arrows, and bowheads
If you hunt deer, then the same bows, arrows, and bowheads would work here. But for newbies, here are some things that I would take special care of.
The weight of the bow should be set comfortable enough so that you can handle your bow in the full drawback condition for several minutes. Finding the right shot in Turkey could take considerable time, and you’ll have to be ready for such an activity.
If you ask me about the bowheads. I would prefer mechanical ones. Reason? They fly straight, and this is all you need to have, especially if you aren’t shooting through the window while popping up from the ground.
Turkeys don’t have excessive tissue mass, so these mechanical bowheads work great. Additionally, the mechanical bowheads have a larger diameter, which can damage the tissue.
Turkeys having good eyesight can spike up your hunting enthusiasm, but it means extra care as well. You’ll find dozens of incidents where the bird has busted the hunters.
Need for the blinds?
While preempting the scenario where things can go wrong, you might want to use a blind to catch Turkey. Pop-up style blinds can be a good choice for Turkey bowhunting.
They do not require much time to set up and offer higher versatility. You do not have to be in it for days. Setting up a few minutes before your actual hunt would work perfectly.
Pro Tip: If you want to take a blind along, then make sure to buy the one with less than 20lb weights. Make sure you try it before buying, as you will want to have enough space to draw the bow without touching the walls.
For hunters who want to keep everything natural, you can use bushes and trees to cover yourself up. Believe me, this is going to be more fun! Don’t forget to dress up as trees and bushes to have the complete cover.
Other items that you might need:
Apart from the things that we have discussed already, you might want to find some mapping application to find your way in the wood. A Turkey vest or luggage bag would be essential for carrying all your items conveniently.
Tactics to catch a Turkey for bow hunting:
Unlike the gunshots, Turkey bowhunting requires a lot of patience and a good level of technique to get success.
You do not have to run after the bird for hunting rather you need to be in the place where you expect the turkey to come in.
This is possible through Scouting. Have a look at the area around. Find the roost trees and feeding places to get an idea about the time where these birds will be fully exposed.
Setting up cameras for this purpose could be an option but if you don’t want to go high-tech, and then the manual analysis would do fine.
Pro Tip: In the spring season, Turkeys could gobble at any loud noise giving in their hiding place. So, use some loud banging noise to know where they are hiding.
Once you have narrowed down your area, now it is time to set the trap for the big bird. Decoys, undoubtedly, form an important part of this trap.
You’ll need some decoys with realistic posses to ensure the response from the gobbler. If your tom calling would work perfectly, then Turkey would go in Decoy’s trance and you’ll have all the ground to yourself.
Now comes the language. You’ll have to make calls for Turkey to get its attention towards the decoy. You can even skip the Decoy part if you are an expert in the Clucks and purrs of a Turkey.
I’ll be discussing my understanding when it comes to sounds, but you can find some valuable resources talking specifically about mastering the Clucks and Purrs when it comes to Turkey.
“Mouth calling” is a practical option that most experienced hunters employ. It can keep your hands free for managing your bow and arrow.
Another benefit of the mouth calls is that you can easily make a second call. The second call with a different pitch and tone can give an impression of multiple birds in the area. So, the gobbler would be more tempted to come in the direction of the call.
You can use the “Shock gobble” technique to gain the bird’s attention, but it might not be the best idea when you have some lesser intensity options available. Start with a crow or owl’s sound or you may like to employ a Turkey call.
If Turkey responds, then you are at the right location; otherwise, you should walk 100 yards and repeat the same sounds until you hear a gobbler.
When your prey reaches the red zone, now you should be cautious about what type of sounds would you make? Purrs and clucks of the decoy hen should just be limited to the whispering to keep everything natural.
Now, it is the test of your abilities, you’ll have to maintain the camouflage and not make any noise, which could distract your bird.
The right shot:
Just like deer hunting, your aim in Turkey bowhunting should be to hit the area between the heart and the lungs. When a turkey is puffed up, you might find it difficult to locate this area if you are new to the hunting field.
But your aim should be to hit the turkey right behind the shoulder. This is where the wings of the bird would be joining the body.
Going for headshots, front, and rear shots should be left to the experts solely because for hitting on these spots, you only have a small area available.
Keep your capabilities and experience in mind to aim for the right place to target.
Pro Tip: Don’t ever consider the full turkey as your target. Aim for the vital organs irrespective of the position that you find your Turkey in and you are going to make it, most likely.
Still, to be on the safe side, you should have your second arrow ready. Turkeys can be tough. Sometimes hitting at the right spot might not impact them badly, so be prepared.
If you bow hit a turkey and it manages to fly, you won’t find good blood trails to follow and get your prey, so for the beginners, the best shot would be covering at least one of the wings as well while aiming for the chest area. So, now your Turkey won’t be able to fly even if it is not readily dead.
Putting turkey to some use:
Finding a wild Turkey normally isn’t an option, so you should expect some delicious rare meat after the hunt. Turkeys can have high body temperatures even after they die, so your priority should be able to remove the internal organs and let them cool.
Once you get out of the woods, find some wonderful recipes, and enjoy the organic Turkey meet.
Before you go on to hunt something big, turkey bowhunting would give you the field to practice your skills and polish your techniques.