If you are an avid turkey hunter, you have probably thought about bowhunting turkeys or tried it. If you have spent much time bowhunting turkeys, you have probably struck out a fair amount. When I bow hunt turkeys, I spend more time chasing than I do flinging arrows. Between a turkey’s keen sense of hearing and eyesight, tagging a turkey with a stick and string can be incredibly difficult. In Michigan, the success rate for turkey hunters who use archery equipment is less than 10%. Killing a turkey with a bow is a tall task; however, it is not impossible.
Cally Morris from Hazel Creek Taxidermy knows about killing turkeys with a bow. Morris is a well-known taxidermist who specializes in turkey mounts. Each spring, Morris can be found turkey hunting in numerous states and often hunts with a bow. According to Morris, his key to success often boils down to using a good decoy. Hazel Creek sells real hen decoys. Using a real decoy can help tip the odds in the hunters’ favor but there are a number of good decoys on the market that work. Regardless of which brand you choose, make sure you use one. A decoy will often make or break a hunt. “Decoy placement when bowhunting turkeys is extremely important. If a decoy isn’t placed properly, it can be tough getting a good shot. I always place my decoy about 15-17 yards away and make sure the decoy is quartering away from me. When the tom approaches the decoy and walks up to it and bumps into the side of the decoy like they do, it gives me a perfect quartering or broadside shot,” Morris said.
A decoy can help bring a tom in those last few yards which is necessary to get them close for a shot. Decoys help you know how far away the turkey is when you are ready to take the shot. “I always know exactly how far away my decoy is from where I am set up so when he comes in and approaches the decoy, I don’t have to worry about using my rangefinder or making extra movements. All I have to do is worry about taking the shot,” Morris added.
Another way to increase the odds of bagging a bird with a bow is using a mechanical broadhead. Many bowhunters go home empty-handed when turkey hunting because they wound a bird and the bird runs off and dies without being found. Some bowhunters don’t like mechanical heads when hunting big game but they work well on turkeys. The vital area on a turkey is small and if you don’t hit it just right, you might cripple the bird. A two-inch mechanical broadhead will quickly bring a gobbler down even when the shot isn’t perfect. Since a mechanical head creates such a large wound, it is not uncommon for a bird to drop in its track after being shot. This is a bonus; often birds that run away are never recovered.
Bowhunting turkeys can be challenging and rewarding. If you are up to the task, get a good decoy use a mechanical broadhead and practice shooting with your Hot Shot release. If all goes well, you will have a fresh butterball very soon.
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