Planning on using your bow to harvest a turkey this spring? If you’ve ever hunted turkeys before then you know it will be no easy task. Hunting turkeys with a shotgun is often enough to drive a hunter crazy, let alone adding the challenge of a stick and string. Successfully harvesting a turkey with your bow is perhaps one of the hardest, yet most rewarding hunts you will ever be a part of.
Browning Trail Cameras Pro Staff members Don and Dan Pickell have been bowhunting for years and make bagging a gobbler with a bow look like a piece of cake.
Here are a few of their tips for bowhunting turkeys this spring:
Spend some time in the woods before season starts so you can be as prepared as possible before opening day. Look for roosting sites, turkey feathers & droppings, feeding areas and travel routes. Once you’ve found some turkey sign or what looks like some good locations, it’s time to hang your trail cameras.
2) Trail Cameras
Get your Browning Trail Cameras out now and keep them out throughout turkey season. Trail cameras will help pinpoint the time of day the turkeys are in certain locations so you know when you should target these specific areas while hunting.
When setting up your cameras, keep the location in mind and set them accordingly. For example, you may want to set your camera on Time Lapse mode while watching large fields or new locations where you aren’t sure where the turkeys are entering or leaving. The camera will take images of the entire field, so you will end up capturing game at 200 + yards away, where a conventional game camera would not normally trigger a picture.
Pattern the birds with your trail cameras and set up your ground blinds accordingly. If they aren’t coming into your call it’s usually best to just sit and wait them out; Remember, you’re hunting with a bow, not a shotgun, so run and gun is a lot more difficult. More often than not, your trail cameras will tell you where you need to be. Remember what you learned about their behavior while studying your trail camera photos and stick with that.
A decoy will often help bring the birds within bow range while keeping their eyes off of you, but we have also had toms skirt our decoys at times. When this happens we usually pull the decoys and set up in a proven spot where we have them patterned with our Browning Trail Cameras and ambush them. It just depends on the bird’s moods.
5) Shot Placement & Recovery
With a shotgun we aim at the bottom of the neck to allow for the pattern to cover both his head and neck. With a bow, we prefer a broadside shot through the wings if possible so an injured bird can’t fly off, making it harder to recover. Whether we use a bow or a shotgun, as soon as a shot is made we go after the bird and get a foot on its head, just in case.
Going into turkey season, it’s best to have a positive outlook and lots of patience! Turkeys are fickle creatures and even having the “perfect setup” is often not enough to harvest a tom. Make sure you’re as prepared as possible ahead of time by scouting with your trail cameras and keeping the above tips in mind. Harvesting a big longbeard with your bow is worth all of the hassle. Stay safe and have fun this turkey season!
By Andrea Haas
Andrea Haas is a Pro-Staffer from Missouri who enjoys hunting deer, turkeys, and upland birds. She is also the founder of the Huntress View, an organization formed to help strengthen the ever growing community of women hunters.