Hunting wild turkeys with bow and arrow is extremely exciting and far more accuracy dependent than whitetail deer. Most whitetail shots offer the traditional “pie plate size” vitals’ while killing a wild turkey ethically offers a target the size of a tennis ball. Even more challenging, the fluffing feathers of a strutting tom often disguise its true body image.
Wild turkeys have two key weaknesses which archery minded hunters can exploit. First, turkeys are clueless about hunting blinds. A new pop-up requires weeks of vision before a whitetail deer will accept it while a wild turkey will walk right up to a large “bump” that wasn’t there the day before. Secondly, turkey gobblers are dominance driven and the sight of a jake or gobbler decoys often brings them on the run. By combining these two strategies, you can lure a gobbler within 15 yards, the range necessary for that exact killing shot.
Turkey hunters have as many if not more options in broadhead design than whitetail deer hunters. You can choose from expandable, fixed blade, and mega-fixed blade broadheads, each with advantages and disadvantages.
Expandable Broadheads– Pin-point accuracy and large cutting diameter are the key advantages of mechanical heads. Many heads such as TruGlo’s Titanium 4-blade fly exactly like target points so that you can practice with field points and switch to broadheads the day of the hunt. Additionally, these heads expand from 1.5 to 2.5 inches and provide devastating impact to small turkey vitals. Finally, they are adept at leading an arrow through small spaces and blind window openings.
Fixed Heads– Hell Razors are one of my favorite broadheads for deer and elk. They are sharp and make an 1 ¼ inch entry hole upon contact. Unlike mechanical heads, they carry this lethal diameter through the entire shot. Should you miss your aiming point by half-an-inch, you still have sufficient diameter to strike vitals. Some fixed blades won’t fly like target points so that you must practice with them and adjust your sights accordingly.
Mega- Fixed Blades- The heads mentioned above can be used for deer or wild turkeys, but mega-blades are designed strictly for wild turkeys. Mega-blades feature cutting surfaces up to 3 inches long and are designed to break a turkey’s neck or possibly decapitate it. These heads are instantly lethal but have two cautions. First, if you body shoot a turkey, the head will probably bounce off the feathered armor of a turkey’s wings (This happened to me.) Secondly, the large diameter of the head makes it difficult to shoot from a blind as hunters must be assured of clearing a shooting window.
As mentioned previously, shot placement on a turkey must be precise and your choice of broadhead may determine the type of shot you take. Briefly, here’s a quick synopsis of lethal targets
Neck and Base of the Neck- This is my favorite target because a direct hit severs the spine and downs the bird instantly. Also, no meat is wasted.
Beard– This is a lethal shot if the gobbler is facing you directly.
Back– If the tom is facing directly away, this hit also breaks the spine, downs the bird and ruins very little meat.
Center– Experienced turkey hunters report excellent success aiming at the top of a gobbler’s legs, often center mass on a broadside bird. This area is especially vulnerable to a large expandable broadhead.
3 Tricks for Success
Whichever broadhead you select, use these three tricks to maximize success.
Multiple decoys– By setting up multiple decoys, your allure is increased. Post a jake and two hens together with the jake in the center of your shooting lane.
Be Patient- Never shoot at a moving turkey. Gobblers often strut and stand motionless to impress hens and intimidate lesser toms. Wait until you get the perfect angle and make an exact shot
Putt Putt- Learn to use a diaphragm caller to make this alarm call. A gobbler will often break from a strut, stretch its neck, and look for danger. This is the time to put an arrow in the base of its neck and your turkey dinner is secured.