Where To Aim While Bowhunting Turkeys (Expert’s Guide)

By Andy Ryan


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When hunting, you should be prepared for anything. Ideally, you should learn more beforehand about the animal you’re going to hunt, especially the best shot placements to shoot for a clean kill. In the case of turkey hunting, it can be challenging to know where to aim, but with a few tips, you can master it.

As a rule, a bowhunter should shoot the turkey from a distance of about 20 yards. We recommend you aim above the center of mass to hit it in the heart. Hunters should know that turkeys tend to flee as soon as they hear the sound of a bow.


The Anatomy a Turkey



A turkey’s anatomy can be very confusing. Due to the large amounts of feathers turkeys have, it is pretty challenging to place their vitals on sight and know where to shoot. So, when you are turkey hunting, it might be helpful to remember they have around three inches of back feathers sticking up and many breast feathers hanging below. 


The Right Spot to Shoot a Turkey


One of the most challenging aspects of turkey hunting is figuring outshot placement. The turkey’s vitals are around the same size as a baseball, so it is essential to know the proper shot placement to complete the task. Plus, with turkey hunting season approaching, you probably want to be ready to shoot at any position. Below you can check out several turkey shot placement common scenarios so your turkey hunt can go as smoothly as possible. (1)


Side Shots



The photo above shows the location of a turkey’s heart and lungs. As you can see, the vitals on a turkey are usually a bit higher than the center of mass. That’s why, when you are bowhunting turkeys, you need to make sure you place the shot accordingly. You can use the end joint of the wing as a guide, as it generally points to the heart, where you should be aiming. It will serve as a great reference point for placing your shot.


Quartering Shots



To perform this shot, you need to draw an imaginary horizontal line from the base of the bird’s neck. Next, draw a straight line up from the offside leg. If you aim the arrow at the intersection of those two lines, it should go directly into the heart and lungs. Aiming higher, you will probably hit the spine, which is just as effective, if not more. (2)

If you happen to see the bird at this angle ultimately, you’ll need to place your horizontal line about two inches below the base of the neck, not below the roots of the beard. You may also need to move your vertical line forward a few inches from the right leg. Once you’ve done that, you should be able to get your shot effectively!


Upfront Shot



If a turkey is looking straight at you, try to shoot your arrow directly at the thin vertical line cross of chest feathers. This vertical line often serves as a quick kill shot and good shot placement.


From Behind



A strutting bird from behind is one of the easiest to hunt. That is because, in that position, its spine is in the direct line of fire, and the base provides a perfect aiming point. An arrow near the “vent” will stick directly into the chest cavity and even sever the spine.


Head-To-Neck Shot


A smooth head/throat shot will quickly kill any turkey. The secret is to get close and launch your arrow even as the turkey is stationary. However, the turkey’s moves are frequently erratic, so fair warning; it can be hard to pull that shot.


To Be Considered For Strutting Shots


While turkey hunting, you must keep in mind that its appearance can change significantly at full strut. That makes pinpointing their vitals a real challenge. A general and simple rule you can follow is to draw an imaginary vertical line in front of the bird’s legs. From there, aim for the point where that line would intersect the crease in the wing, which is where the heart is located.


How to Improve Precision


Turkey hunting can get pretty tricky, and it is not unusual to have a few missed shots. If you want to avoid that, make sure you follow the following tips.


The Benefit of Using Ground Blinds


Perceptions have changed when it comes to ground blinds, and the numbers can vouch for it.
According to hunting experts, once a poor second to tree stands, pop-up ground blinds have grown in popularity among hunters. In fact, sales have been very good for the last half-decade. In general, they’re long-lasting, approximately up to 10 years.

Ground blinds are also perfect for those hunting with children since they’re quieter and simpler to use. They’re also great for those who can’t or don’t want to climb trees. Good ground blinds are vital when hunting turkeys: they’re mobile, offer concealment and help you avoid getting damp during a rainy day.


Try to Get Close to the Birds


In the heat of the turkey hunt, when the turkeys are in a poor spot or too far away, your accuracy might decrease tremendously. No matter how good a shooter you are, it is always helpful to be as close to your target as you can, at a place where you can comfortably shoot at them. Around 20 yards should be fine, but of course, if you have the opportunity to get even closer, take it.

To lure turkeys closer to you, we recommend the use of camouflage. An experienced turkey hunter is likely to abide by this rule. It is essential to minimize all your movements. It is best to make these adjustments while the turkey is either turned opposite or behind some obstacle. Making any sudden movements might scare the bird away.


A Rangefinder to Measure Distances


Rangefinders are a turkey hunter’s best friend. Sometimes, while turkey hunting in an open area, it can be pretty hard to judge distances. That is where rangefinders come in handy. As soon as you hear the familiar gobble, quickly range the trees in the surrounding area. Particularly for people that do not have enough experience hunting turkey, this is a great trick to keep in mind. It will allow you to get a better idea of the approximate position of the turkey when you fire the shot. Plus, it will increase your accuracy and help you catch that bird.



Hunting a turkey can prove to be quite the challenge, especially with turkeys having such complex anatomy and moving around so much. However, by following the tips mentioned above and making sure you get close enough before making your shot, you should do great. Remember always to aim a bit higher; you will most likely hit the turkey right in the heart.

Here’s more tip when you bow hunt from the ground. Until our next article!


(1) baseball – https://www.britannica.com/sports/baseball
(2) spine – https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/10040-spine-structure-and-function