Turkey Tips: Expert Q&A with Heartland Bowhunter

What archery-practice tips do you have for hunters chasing turkey with a bow?

Hunting turkeys with a bow can be difficult. Not only do they have small vitals, but they seem to be constantly moving. Dialing in as accurately as possible always helps.

I like to practice from a seated position to mimic a hunting situation, and I like to practice often. The more comfortable and confident you are, the better.

What common turkey-hunting mistakes do you see hunters make with a bow?

Not picking a target spot on the turkey is one of the worst mistakes an archery turkey hunter can make. Study turkey anatomy so you understand where the bird’s vitals are. When you’re in the field it’s easy to get excited, so it’s important to pick a spot and put your pin on the bird, then pull the trigger and release smoothly.

Making sure the bird is standing still is also important. In the seconds between your aim and pull a turkey can move inches or more.

It’s also important to remember that when they’re at full strut, with all their feathers extended, turkeys appear much bigger than they actually are. Understanding turkey anatomy is important here, too — or waiting for the bird to come out of strut can be a good strategy.

My advice: Try to shoot turkeys in the back. There’s much less margin for error that way, and it seems to be the most fatal shot you can make.

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Do you prefer hunting from a blind or from the ground?

I prefer hunting from the ground. To me, it’s more of a challenge to run and gun with a bow, and it’s much more intense being out in the elements with the birds. That said, hunting from a ground blind can be much more effective in terms of hiding and concealing movement. When in a ground blind, try to put your decoys as close as you can. This will lead to some higher-percentage opportunities.

How can you increase your ground-hunting success?

Concealment is key when hunting from the ground. A turkey’s eyesight is their No. 1 defense mechanism. If you are well-concealed, though, and can come to full draw at the proper time, you will be much more successful.

Typically, if you wait for a gobbler to turn away from you while strutting, its view of you will be obstructed, allowing you to draw back and fire undetected.

Does bowhunting change your hunting location?

Bowhunting usually doesn’t allow you to get quite as close to the roost as you can leaning against a tree with a shotgun. Concealing with whatever foliage might be available can be noisy, too.

Unless you previously set up a spot for your shot, it’s usually difficult to get close to a roost while bowhunting.

How important is range and pin placement when bowhunting turkey?

Knowing the exact distance to your target is more important in hunting turkey than it is with almost any other game animal — they’re small targets with even smaller vitals — so this is where Garmin’s Xero Bow Sight comes in. The Xero not only allows you to acquire the range of the target while at full draw, but it also gives you an exact pin.

With the Xero you don’t have to hover between pins and guess exactly where to hold. You can put the one, unobstructed pin on the spot and release your arrow.

What’s the single most important piece of advice you’d give to a turkey hunter?

When possible, try to shoot the bird while they are standing still and facing away. That’s easier said than done, but that tactic has led to more successful recoveries than any other in my experience hunting turkeys with a bow.