Proven Tactics For Bowhunting Turkeys

bowhunting turkey setup

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No Sweeter Victory

Harvesting a turkey by any legal means is an accomplishment, but doing so with archery equipment brings with it a sense of pride and gratitude that can be rather difficult to articulate. It’s hard enough as it is to get a turkey to close the distance, but to draw back unseen and place an arrow in the exact spot to offer a humane and ethical kill is an extraordinary achievement. There’s a lot of strategy at play in getting to that moment, but in the end, the setup is what usually decides the outcome. And like all things in the world of hunting, there are many ways to go about setting up, but are all strategies created equal? If they were, all hunters who located turkeys would be equally as successful, but we know that isn’t the case. Knowing where turkeys are doesn’t equate to success, but there are some things you can do that will drastically tip the scales in your favor. And that’s what we’re here to talk about. The purpose of this article is to highlight the tactics that have been proven to bring success to turkey hunters hell-bent on carrying a bow into the field. So, let’s get started.

Use A Blind

The natural landscape offers a lot of opportunity and resources to create your own blind, but manufactured blinds offer more concealment, are quicker to set up, and most importantly, can be moved, should the need arise. 

The Brickhouse by Ameristep offers enough space to comfortably draw back with room for another person, as well as your gear. I have several of them set up throughout our property. There is some noise associated with setting these blinds up, so they are not ideal for setting up near roosted birds. Now, coming from the world of leaning against a tree in the open timber with a shotgun on my knee, I know how being in an enclosed blind can feel a little disconnected from the hunt, but when that turkey comes into 15 yards, and you still have to draw back and execute, you forget all about that. 

Set Up Decoys For A Close Encounter

If you’re not quite sold on decoys, jump on over to read up on the benefits, then circle back here. Unless you’ve got a nice little 30X50-yard clearing that the turkeys love coming to every single day, you likely won’t get them as close as you’d like without decoys. When I still routinely used a shotgun for turkey hunting, I didn’t like using decoys, but that all changed when I put a bow in my hand. Bowhunting turkeys is extremely difficult, so getting them close is key to success. Decoys do that and more. They give you a good range without having to pull your rangefinder up to your face when a bird is coming in. You can range your decoys after getting set up, and when that tom comes in, you’ll already know his distance without moving. One important thing to keep in mind when using decoys for bowhunting is that you want them close. With a shotgun, you could put them out at 25 or 30 yards, but if you do that with a bow in hand and that longbeard hangs up 15 yards back, you likely won’t feel comfortable taking that shot. I know I wouldn’t. If the same thing happens with your decoys at 15 yards, however, you should still be able to confidently take the shot. 

One other added benefit of using decoys is their distraction rating, especially when a fired up gobbler comes in to a half-strut jake decoy. Gobblers tend to get tunnel vision in a situation like that and it’s almost as if they throw caution to the wind. You still need to exercise extreme caution, but it’s so much easier to draw back and execute a shot when a turkey’s attention is on a decoy. 

If you don’t have decoys or are in the market for new ones, look no further than Avian-X. They are absolutely terrific and we’ve had plenty of real-world experience that has demonstrated their effectiveness. Just this past weekend, I had three jakes come running in and whoop up on the Avian-X half-strut jake for 45 minutes at just 15 yards! Want a good show? Grab at least one, but ideally all three, of the decoys below and get ready!

Sit Over A Strut Zone

Gobblers love to strut their stuff for the ladies, and they often have certain areas they like to visit daily to put on a show. They’ll strut anywhere, but fields, clearings, and two track roads are among the most common areas to find strutting birds. You can often see where turkeys have been strutting in areas with soft dirt, as their wings drag and cut into the ground at their sides, forming a runway of sorts that is easy to see. You may be wondering why you need to know where they prefer to strut if you already know they give preference to a certain field. Well, they may visit a certain 70 acre field everyday, but that doesn’t mean they always visit the same field edge that you’ll be sitting on. I’ve often seen turkeys give preference to one side – or even one corner – of a field, turning my hunting trip into a birdwatching expedition. Knowing where they prefer to strut can sometimes get you in the game instead of sitting on the sidelines watching the show unfold from afar.

Easier Doesn’t Mean Easy

Using these tactics will increase your odds of success, but certainly won’t guarantee it. You still have to put in the hard work of locating birds and their patterns, and executing a timely and precise shot. Bowhunting is hard. Bowhunting turkeys is extremely hard. So, give yourself every legal advantage possible and start notching tags.



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