Best Bowhunting Setups for Turkeys
— Matt Coffey
Bowhunting turkeys can be one of the most satisfying experiences for a bowhunter. Youre on the ground and turkeys have great eyesight, making it as challenging a hunt as youll ever experience. But, there are a few ways you can up your chances of sticking a wily longbeard.
Personally, Ive bowhunted turkeys in several states and have had my share of misses. Most of the time it was more because I failed to range the turkey correctly, but there have been times when Ive been busted on the draw. Given that Ive missed more times than Ive hit, Ill pass along what Ive learned so you can hopefully be more successful than I have been so far.
Scouting pays off. The more you know about where the birds roost and where they want to be after flydown, the better. And, the only way to gain this knowledge is by scouting. Trail cams anymore are a perfect way to do this without upsetting the natural order of things. Given that most cams have a video capability, thats all I use when I scout for birds. The microphone on the cams make for great audio and you can determine where a lonely gobbler is once the camera is tripped. This worked for a buddy of mine last spring when we figured out that the birds would pass in front of the camera and then head to an open field nearby. Each time the video was rolling, you could hear a gobbler sounding off in the field.
Ground blinds are your friend. If youre anything like me, you dont like to sit and wait when you turkey hunt. But, its called running and gunning, not running and bowhunting for a reason. When you gun hunt, just about any tree wider than your shoulders will work for a setup. While bowhunting, however, you need a tree big enough to hide your entire body, especially when youre ready to draw. Ground blinds take the guesswork out of finding a suitable tree and if youve scouted before the season starts, youll have a good idea of where to setup the blind for the best shot.
Timing is key. No matter if youre in a blind or sitting on the ground behind a huge tree, timing is key when it comes to drawing your bow. Draw before the turkey turns all the way around and you risk the chance of him spotting you; wait too long and the same holds true.
Aim like you mean it. I like to choose a single feather to focus on when I am going to take a shot at a longbeard. By focusing so intently on one spot, it helps me mentally prepare for the shot and know where my arrow will hit before its ever released.
Practice like you hunt. Bowhunting turkeys isnt like bowhunting any other animal. The kill zone is much smaller than a deer and you need to practice a little differently. I like to run through different scenarios in my mind and determine the best way to shoot. Out of a blind, on my knees, standing behind a tree and drawing/aiming quickly are all at the top of my list.
All in all, bowhunting turkeys can be the most rewarding — and sometimes the most frustrating — way to hunt longbeards in the spring. Practice these few steps and youll be well on your way to sticking your first tom.