How to Hunt Turkey With A Bow (A Beginner’s Guide)

By Andy Ryan


Updated at

Hunting turkey with a bow is both an exciting and rewarding challenge. The thrill of drawing your bow silently and accurately to bag that elusive gobbler leaves a sense of accomplishment like no other. As a bowhunter, you have an important role in promoting sustainable turkey populations and enjoying the sport you love.

Before your adventure begins, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with your equipment and practice good bowhunting techniques. Safety, precision and patience are paramount when aiming for the perfect shot. Equipping yourself with the right broadheads, understanding turkey behavior, and effectively implementing your calling skills will substantially increase your chances of success.

In this article, we will walk you through the necessary steps to help you make the transition from rifle to bow in the pursuit of turkey. You will learn about setting up the ideal hunting spot, mastering your aim, and utilizing tactics that can bring you closer to bagging that trophy bird. Let’s dive in and sharpen your skills for an unforgettable bowhunting experience!

The Essentials of Bow Hunting

As an aspiring turkey hunter, it’s essential to be well-prepared before stepping out into the field. Bow hunting turkeys can be an exciting and challenging experience. To increase your chances of success, make sure you have the right archery equipment and set up.

When selecting your bow, consider the draw weight and let-off. A draw weight of 40-60 pounds is ideal for hunting turkey, as it provides enough force to penetrate the bird’s tough feathers and muscles. Ensure your bow has at least 65% let-off for a smoother shooting experience. As for the arrows, choose ones made of carbon or aluminum, as they are lightweight and maintain accuracy.

Proper arrow selection is crucial. Broadheads with mechanical or fixed-blades design are popular for turkey hunting. Mechanical broadheads have expandable blades, while fixed-blade broadheads retain their shape. Both are effective, but mechanical broadheads are generally better for accuracy and kinetic energy delivery.

Consider the following essential archery equipment for a successful turkey bowhunt:

  • Bow sight: A quality bow sight helps you aim better and increases accuracy. Choose a sight with multiple pins or adjustable features for varying shooting distances.
  • Carrying sling: A sling provides comfort and easy transportation of your bow, reducing fatigue during long hunts.
  • Bowstring silencers: Silencers help reduce noise from the bowstring, making it harder for turkeys to detect your presence. Choose a high-quality silencer for better effectiveness.
  • Ground blind or camouflage clothing: Camouflage is essential when hunting. Use a ground blind or wear camouflage clothing to blend in with the environment and stay hidden from turkeys.

Developing your bow hunting skills is vital for a successful turkey hunt. One of the best ways to improve is through regular practice sessions. Spend time on archery ranges, practice in various positions, and familiarize yourself with different shooting distances. This will help increase your accuracy and confidence when it’s time for the actual hunt.

Lastly, make sure you’re aware of the hunting regulations in your area. Obtain the necessary permits and licenses, and always practice ethical hunting. Enjoy your time in the field, and remember that patience and persistence are key to becoming a successful turkey bow hunter.

Choosing the Right Equipment

When it comes to bow hunting turkeys, having the right equipment can make all the difference. In this friendly guide, you’ll learn what to look for in a bow, arrows, broadheads, and other essential gear.

First, let’s talk about your bow. You’ll want a fast, accurate, and quiet bow. This will help ensure quick and humane kills. Consider the poundage of the bow, and remember that it should be comfortable for you to draw. A good rule of thumb is to shoot for a draw weight between 40 and 60 pounds. Additionally, pay attention to the riser—the part of the bow where you will grip. You’ll want a well-balanced riser for comfortable handling.

Now, let’s discuss arrows. Matching the right arrow with your bow is crucial for both accuracy and penetration. Generally, the *heavier* the arrow, the better it will carry kinetic energy. Look for arrows with good balance, quality fletching, and strong, durable materials. Here are some factors to consider when selecting arrows:

  • Material: Carbon, aluminum, or a combination of both
  • Spine: This refers to the arrow’s stiffness; it should match your bow’s poundage
  • Fletching: Choose from either vanes or feathers, with helical fletching being more efficient for stability

Moving on to broadheads, you have a couple of options: mechanical or fixed blade. Mechanical broadheads open upon impact, which can cause significant tissue damage. However, they may require more energy to penetrate the target. On the other hand, fixed blade broadheads are more durable and require less energy for penetration. Turkey-specific broadheads are also available, designed with features like larger cutting diameters to increase the odds of hitting a vital area.

To increase your chances of success, consider adding a rangefinder to your arsenal. A rangefinder can help you accurately gauge the distance to your target, which is essential for bow hunting turkeys. Rangefinders come in different types, such as laser or optical, so choose one that fits your budget and preferences.

In summary, selecting the right bow, arrows, broadheads, and other equipment plays a critical role in your success as a turkey bowhunter. Remember to keep it friendly, choose wisely, and have fun out there!

Understanding Turkey Behavior

When it comes to turkey hunting with a bow, understanding wild turkey behavior is crucial to your success. The more you know about their habits and preferences, the better your chances are of bagging that trophy longbeard.

Wild turkeys are social creatures, often living in groups called flocks. These flocks consist of toms, hens, and their young. During the turkey hunting season, toms will establish “strut zones,” which are areas where they display their impressive feathers and behaviors to attract hens.

Pay attention to these strut zones as they will increase your chances of finding a tom during your hunt. A great way to locate strut zones is by listening for gobbling sounds early in the morning or just before sunset when turkeys are most vocal.

While wild turkey populations can vary depending on the region, knowing the general population of turkeys in your area will also improve your hunting experience. Having an idea of numbers can help you decide how many decoys to use and how aggressive to be with your calling techniques.

Speaking of turkey decoys, using them effectively can often be the difference between a successful hunt and going home empty-handed. Decoys should be set up in open areas where they can be easily seen by approaching turkeys. Remember, toms are attracted to hens, so position your decoys strategically to draw them in.

As for the timing of your hunt, the turkey hunting season typically runs from spring to fall, but the specific dates can vary depending on your location. Be sure to check local regulations and adhere to any limits on hunting days or techniques.

In conclusion, knowing the ins and outs of wild turkey behavior is an essential part of being a successful bowhunter. By following these tips, understanding strut zones, mastering the use of decoys, and being in tune with your local turkey population, you’ll be well on your way to hunting success.

Scouting and Locating Turkeys

When embarking on a turkey hunting adventure with your bow, the first step is scouting and locating turkeys. Your success largely depends on your ability to find turkeys in the woods during the turkey season. To increase your chances of a successful hunt, follow these friendly tips.

Before the season starts, visit potential hunting spots to look for signs that turkeys are nearby. While you can hunt on public land, it may be crowded, so consider scouting private land with the owner’s permission as well. Keep an eye out for roosting sites, turkey tracks, and droppings. Be sure to set up a trail camera for monitoring turkey activity regularly.

Focus on areas with plenty of brush or open areas as turkeys prefer these locations to feed and strut. Early morning and late afternoon are the most active times for turkeys, so make a point to scout during these hours. If you have the opportunity, talk to more experienced hunters or landowners who may have valuable information about turkey habits and locations.

Once you have identified areas with turkey activity, begin practicing your turkey calls. Calls can vary from mouth calls to mechanical devices, but the key is practice. The more you practice, the more accurately you can mimic the sounds of a hen to entice a responding male (also known as a tom).

Your scouting efforts will pay off when you finally spot a turkey to target with your bow. Remember to wear camouflage, minimizing your movements, and choose a position that offers a clear view of the roost. This preparation will give you an edge as you take the most important shot during the shotgun-free hunting experience.

So, lace up your boots and start scouting for turkeys now to have an exciting and rewarding bow-hunting experience this turkey season!

Setting Up and Concealment for Turkey Hunting

When you’re planning to hunt turkey with a bow, setting up and concealment are essential for success. You’ll want to ensure that you’re well hidden from your prey as they have keen eyesight and can spot movement from a distance. In this section, we will discuss a few important aspects of setting up and concealment to help you have a successful hunt.

To start, choose a suitable location for your ground blind. This could be along the edge of a field, near a food source, or close to a roosting site. Look for natural cover, such as bushes, tree lines, or uneven terrain, that can help to conceal your blind. When setting up your ground blind, make sure to clear the area of debris to reduce noise and ensure there are no obstacles in your line of sight.

Camouflage plays a crucial role in concealing yourself from turkeys. Wear camo clothing from head to toe, and consider using face paint or a facemask to hide any exposed skin. Match your camouflage pattern to the environment you’ll be hunting in, as turkeys can detect even subtle differences.

Next, you’ll want to cover your blind with natural materials from the area, like branches, leaves, or grass to further enhance your concealment. Be sure to check for any gaps in the camo material and cover them up, as a keen-eyed turkey will notice any inconsistencies in the pattern.

Another tip for effective concealment is to minimize movement while you’re in the blind. Turkeys can detect motion easily, and even the slightest movement can spook them. Practice drawing your bow from a seated position to help reduce any movement that could give you away. Additionally, use a quiet release aid on the bowstring that doesn’t make a loud clicking noise, which could startle the birds.

In summary, proper setup and concealment are vital for a successful turkey hunt using a bow. Choose a strategic location for your ground blind, use camouflage clothing and cover the blind with natural materials, and minimize movement to avoid detection by these sharp-eyed birds. Follow these steps, and you’ll be well on your way to bagging a trophy turkey.

Bow Hunting Strategies and Tactics

When you’re bow hunting turkeys, it’s important to approach the hunt with the right tactics and a good amount of patience. You want to be in the right place at the right time to increase your chances of success. Here are some friendly tips to help you become a more successful turkey hunter using your bow.

During the spring season, turkeys are more likely to display their strutting behavior, which can make it easier for you to draw them closer. Spring is also when the spring turkey season takes place, so it’s an excellent time to put your bow to use.

One helpful tactic is using decoys to lure in your target. Set up decoys in a visible location to catch the turkey’s attention. This can convince the turkey that there’s a rival bird in the area, stimulating its curiosity and increasing the likelihood that it’ll come within range of your bow.

As a bow hunter, it’s essential to be patient and wait for the perfect opportunity to present itself. You might find yourself waiting for an extended period, but it’s crucial to remain still and focused so you don’t spook the turkey.

When the turkey comes into range, aim for a body shot rather than a head shot. Bow hunting turkeys can be challenging, and aiming for the larger body target increases your chances of connecting with a well-placed arrow. Be prepared for the possibility of needing a follow-up shot, but if you’ve practiced well, you should be able to make a quick and effective kill.

Keep in mind that while patience is essential, so is being proactive. Scratch the ground or make turkey sounds to pique their interest. This will further increase the likelihood of a turkey coming into range and offering you the opportunity to make a successful shot.

By employing these tactics and maintaining a friendly, patient attitude throughout your hunt, you’ll enhance your chances of a successful and fulfilling bow hunting experience during turkey season. Good luck, and happy hunting!

Ensuring Accuracy and Shot Placement

To ensure accuracy and proper shot placement while hunting turkey with a bow, it’s crucial to practice regularly. Work on your archery skills by consistently shooting at various distances and angles. A well-placed, lethal shot is the key to a successful hunt.

Before heading out for the hunt, familiarize yourself with the vital areas of a turkey. This knowledge will help you make accurate and effective shots. Aim for the head and neck region, as this is the most lethal area to hit. If the turkey is strutting or facing away, take a shot at the base of the tail, which should penetrate the vitals.

When practicing, consider using a 3D turkey target to help you visualize the outline and get a better understanding of where the vital areas are located. It’s essential to build up your muscle memory through consistent practice, which will allow you to make precise shots even under the pressure of a live hunting situation.

Some tips to improve accuracy include:

  • Maintaining proper form: Keep a steady stance, hold the bow consistently, and follow through on each shot.
  • Using the right equipment: Invest in a suitable bow, arrows, and broadheads designed for turkey hunting.
  • Aiming small: Focus on specific points on the target rather than just aiming at the general area.

By regularly working on your archery skills and familiarizing yourself with the vital areas on a turkey, you’ll be better prepared to make accurate and lethal shots during your hunt. Happy hunting!

Things to Remember and Tips

Hunting turkey with a bow can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Here are some friendly pointers to help you make the most of your hunt.

Always keep in mind that luck can play a significant role in any hunting excursion. While you can control various factors like your skills and equipment, there’s no guarantee that you’ll bag a turkey. Stay patient and remember that it’s all part of the fun.

Bow hunters need to carefully choose their equipment. Opt for a lightweight bow that allows for easy maneuverability. Make sure to check the limbs too for any visible damage or signs of wear. Replace any damaged equipment before hitting the woods to ensure a safe and enjoyable hunt.

When it comes to honing your skills, don’t shy away from friendly competition. Join local bow hunting clubs or events to share tips, learn from others, and challenge yourself. Watching tutorial videos online is another great way to gather valuable insights and improve your technique.

Here are some more tips to keep in mind:

  • Practice your shot: Turkeys have small vital areas, so it’s crucial to know your bow well and be comfortable with your shooting abilities. Practice shooting from various positions and at different angles to simulate a real hunting scenario.
  • Stay concealed: Turkeys have excellent eyesight, so make sure you’re well-hidden. Wear full camouflage gear and consider using a portable blind or tree stand to stay out of their line of sight.
  • Use decoys: Set up turkey decoys to help attract real birds and make them feel more at ease. A simple decoy setup can work wonders in drawing turkeys closer to your shooting range.
  • Learn turkey behavior: Understanding their habitat, feeding patterns, and vocalizations can help you locate and call them more effectively.

Good luck out there, and happy hunting!

Bonus: Cooking Turkeys

Open its abdomen between its breastbone and vent and remove its organs. After that, put the bird where it can cool before bringing it home and butchering it quickly.

When butchering a turkey, you must first skin it. Then, debone the breast and remove the drumsticks for even, thorough cooking and the best use of its cuts. Brining or marinating turkey breasts results in moist and tender meat. Drumsticks are excellent for ground meat, sausage, soup, and pressure cooking. The heart, liver, and giblets of a turkey can also be cooked and eaten.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best bow for turkey hunting?

Selecting the best bow for turkey hunting mostly depends on your personal preferences and skill level. Many hunters use compound bows for their relatively ease and accuracy. However, recurve and longbows are also viable options if you prefer traditional archery. It’s essential to choose a bow that fits your draw length and pull weight so you can shoot comfortably and accurately.

Which broadheads are recommended for hunting turkeys?

There are many broadheads available for turkey hunting, but the most popular ones are mechanical and fixed-blade broadheads. Mechanical broadheads feature expandable blades, providing a larger cutting diameter and more lethal shots on impact. In contrast, fixed-blade broadheads are sturdy, maintain sharpness, and are suitable for traditional bowhunters. Ultimately, the choice depends on your personal preference and the type of bow you’re using.

When is the bow hunting season for turkeys?

Bow hunting season for turkeys typically occurs in the spring and fall, varying by location. You should check your local regulations for specific dates and permit requirements. During the spring season, the focus is mainly on harvesting male turkeys (toms) during the breeding season, while fall offers opportunities to take both hens and toms.

What are some effective arrow tips for turkey hunting?

Choosing the right arrow tip can greatly affect your turkey hunting success. A heavy, small-diameter arrow is ideal for penetration and maintaining kinetic energy on impact. Look for arrow tips with low wind drift and high front-of-center (FOC) balance to ensure accurate shots and a better chance of taking down your quarry. Be sure to practice with your chosen setup before hunting to become comfortable and accurate.

How difficult is it to hunt a turkey with a bow?

Hunting turkeys with a bow can be challenging yet rewarding. Turkeys have incredible vision and are easily spooked, requiring stealth and patience. Additionally, the vital organs in a turkey are relatively small, making accurate shot placement crucial. Bowhunters need to practice their technique and develop a comprehensive understanding of turkey anatomy to increase their chances of success.

Where should I aim when shooting a turkey with a bow?

When shooting a turkey with a bow, it’s critical to aim for the vital organs such as the heart and lungs. Broadside shots are usually best since they present the largest target area. For a broadside shot, aim for the wing joint where the wing connects to the body or the center of the body about one-third of the way up from the bottom. For a head-on shot, aim at the base of the neck where it meets the body. Ultimately, practice and understanding turkey anatomy will improve your shot placement and hunting success.