Bowhunting turkeys can be difficult. However, many bowhunters enjoy the challenge. If you look at data in states that record archery kills, you will notice that the bowhunting success rate for hunting turkeys in the spring is extremely low. In fact, in many states, the success rate is in the single digits. There are many reasons some hunters tag out and some don’t. Below are a few reasons bowhunters don’t fill their tags and a few things they can do to rectify the problem.


Since most turkeys hunters start out turkey hunting with a shotgun, the only shot most hunters have ever taken is a head shot. Many hunters who make the switch to bowhunting turkeys aren’t always sure about where to aim. A lot of information online tells hunters to aim for the butt of the wing. The problem with this shot is if you are off a little bit, you can easily miss the bird or hit nothing but breast meat. Many turkeys live to gobble another day due to shot placement. If you are looking to maximize your odds of recovery, aim right above the drumsticks. The back half of the chest cavity is located here and all the tendons going to the legs are located here. If you hit a little low, you will break the tendons going to the legs and the bird won’t be able to fly.


Many hunters think they can run and gun with a bow and just hide in front of a tree like they do when turkey hunting with a gun. Turkeys can see the slightest movement extremely well. Often when a bowhunter goes to draw, a turkey will see the movement and run. The best option is to hunt from a pop-up blind. Yes they are heavy, but it is worth the extra effort of toting one around in the woods with you. You can kill a bird without a blind but the odds are much smaller. If you plan to hunt from a blind, check out the Pine Ridge Archery Kwik Stand. This stand will keep your bow vertical and ready for the shot at all times while hunting from a blind.


Many bowhunters use the wrong broadhead when bowhunting turkeys. Jeff Budz from Florida has killed dozens of longbeards with a bow. He says an extra large expandable is best. Many hunters use whatever head they use for deer. Many fixed blade and mechanical heads that are used for bowhunting deer offer a cutting diameter of 1.5” or less. The vital area on a turkey is extremely small; the larger the cutting diameter, the better odds of recovery. Using a head with a 2” cutting diameter or larger is best. Grim Reaper, Rage and many other companies make great heads that will quickly bring a turkey down.


Many bowhunters leave the turkey decoy at home because messing with decoys can be a pain. However, when bowhunting turkeys, the closer the turkey when you shoot, the better odds the bird is going home in a game bag. Having a decoy 15 yards will often bring the bird in closer. Greg Abbas of A-Way Hunting products, maker of Turkey Wraps, says he likes to place the decoy facing the blind when bowhunting. “A tom approaching a decoy will always try to get in front of the decoy to strut in front of the hen. When the hen is facing the blind, the tom will come in close to fan for the hen, giving the bowhunter a close shot opportunity.” Abbas said.


Many hunters call too often and too loudly. When hunting with a gun, it doesn’t matter as much because by the time the bird realizes something is wrong, it is too late. When bowhunting, most hunters want the tom close. If you call loudly when the bird is close, he will likely spook. If you call too often, he might pinpoint your location and bust you. Call extra soft and sparingly when trying to pull that tom the last twenty yards.
The odds are stacked against you when bowhunting longbeards. To increase the odds, you need to pay attention to all the little details. Can you kill a tom with a bow without a blind, a decoy and by calling loudly? For sure, but employing the tactics listed above can greatly increase your odds of success.

About the author: Tracy Breen is a full time outdoor writer, consultant and game dinner speaker who often discuss how he overcomes cerebral palsy. Learn more about him at www.tracybreen.com

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