Turkey Bowhunting Tips – Practical Guide

Jeff
| Last Updated June 7, 2021

Turkeys are both fun and satisfying animals for bowhunting, being quite easy on the surface but still requiring large amounts of caution and skill.

They are unusual in terms of shape and can run deceptively fast, so knowing what you’ll encounter and preparing for it carefully is vital to a successful turkey hunt.

7 Tips for Bowhunting Turkey

There are tons of great ways to improve your bowhunting overall, but these tips should give you an edge when specifically bow hunting turkey. This can come down to your gear, your bowhunting habits, and the behavior of your target, so make sure you know what to bring and expect long before you go. 

Splurge on Realistic Decoys

While turkeys aren’t the most intelligent animal, they can tell a turkey decoy turkey from a real one with little challenge. If you have a great turkey call, you’ll be able to get one nearby, but getting a good shot means having a good hen decoy to help get them into position.

Make Sure To

Go the extra mile and purchase decoys at higher price points. These will often have much better coloring, larger sizes, and more realistic features to help guarantee their success.

What Not to Do

Avoid making your own turkey decoy, or going for an especially cheap or unrealistic decoy setup, as it just won’t get the same level of results.

Turkey decoy (Photo credit: huntspot.com)

Learn to Speak Their Language

Much like many other birds, turkeys can have a complicated set of sounds when they communicate with each other. It’s much more than a singular sound with several meanings, as they’re surprisingly skilled communicators that you can usually pick up on with proper training.

Make Sure To

Understand what certain turkey calls mean, such as hens chattering and gentle calls to bring them in without sensing danger, and work them into your call system for better luring.

What Not to Do

Avoid focusing on loud, sudden noises, as these will scare turkeys far more than many other birds and animals. More often than not, this will lead them to flee the area with their flock.

Mask Your Blind

As odd as this phrase might be for someone who isn't a bow hunter, this is a key piece of advice for hunting nearly any game but particularly turkeys. The idea is that you should always be hiding your blind, your concealed shooting area, with as much camouflage as possible to ensure you aren’t detected.

Photo credit: realtree.com

Make Sure To

Hide it well within enough brush or similar-colored background to ensure you’re not going to be spotted easily. You still need a clear view of your target, but you will easily stand out from your surroundings while bow hunting, so you want your space to be as hidden as possible.

What Not to Do

Try not to choose simple full-body camo since you can alert a turkey easily if they see a moving bush. The advantage of the blind is that it obscures you, as the shape is often more important for safe turkeys than the camouflage itself.

Have a Second Arrow Ready

Even with a lethal shot, turkeys can go quite wild when they’re in pain or danger. Perfect hits won’t always kill instantly with this particular animal, so you want a second arrow ready so that you can easily recover from a missed shot or guarantee a killing blow against those that try to flee with your first arrow still embedded.

Make Sure To

Keep a second arrow on hand, ready to draw before you fire your first at a prospective target. You might not necessarily need it, but being able to quickly fire a second will help guarantee a safe hit and confirmed success.

Photo credit: bowhunting360.com

What Not to Do

Don’t stick to just one arrow, as you can easily miss or fail to catch a fleeing injured turkey. You can’t always expect the first arrow to work, and if you have another shot, you should be ready to take it quickly.

Use the Right Equipment

Beyond just the decoy, you want to ensure you have every tool you need. This can include your blind, a sufficient supply of arrows, a well-strung bow, and any tools you might need for calling. Skill alone cannot help you successfully catch a turkey, and your equipment will have to do some of the leg work.

Make Sure To

Make a checklist of everything you might need before you go. Everything, including shooting, scouting, and calling, should be done, and you’ll have far more success in every stage so long as you aren’t bringing cheap or unhelpful equipment.

What Not to Do

Don’t bother bringing gear that you aren’t sure will be helpful for turkey bowhunting. These are a special type of target that can be difficult to track, call, and shoot in many circumstances, so simply bringing a bow and blind you like is not going to be enough for a successful hunt.

Don’t Skimp on Scouting

This is more of a general piece of advice for any type of hunting, but you should always scout your area as effectively as possible.

It can ruin a hunt if you don’t properly understand where your target will enter from, where you’re going to be firing, and what hazards there might be, so ensure you’ve fully explored the area you plan to lure your turkeys into.

Make Sure To

Photo credit: thebeardedbuck.com

Be extremely cautious about picking an area to hunt in, and carefully research any patterns you see from other birds and your hunting area in general. Turkeys might seem like easy targets, but that doesn’t mean you should skip on valuable planning and exploration to make sure you come out of your hunt with a successful hit.

What Not to Do

Never hunt in an area you haven’t properly surveyed and scouted, or just hope to encounter a turkey. Not only is this generally unsafe since you might be treading on the ground you can’t hunt in, but you may not even encounter a turkey or be able to set up a good blind, and your hunt will have been a wasted day.

Find the Roosting Tree

With the right amount of tracking and scouting, it’s easy to find what’s called a roosting tree. This is an area where turkeys stay overnight and can be found in the morning since they don’t generally travel too far until the later hours of the day. Finding this tree can let you set up a decoy close enough to make them think they’re still in a safe position.

Make Sure To

Track your turkeys using loud calls at sunset a day before your hunt, as this will let you track the general direction they’re residing and will be found overnight. From there, just make sure to set up your blind and decoy in a place that’s convenient for them to wander in accidentally, and for you to set up a secure shooting position.

Photo credit: nwtf.org

What Not to Do

Don’t get too close or too far from the roosting tree. If you get too close, you’ll likely scare them away and not make them feel comfortable moving towards you. If you get too far, they’ll feel safer by their tree and rarely wander closer to your hunting ground.

Must-Have Turkey Bowhunting Equipment

So far, there have been a few main items mentioned that every bowhunter should have. That said, some others have gone unmentioned, and others that have been less detailed are worth knowing since a full set of proper equipment is often necessary if you want a successful and active hunt.

Turkey Calling Gear

Many turkey sounds can be made through mouths and hands, but there are just as many forms of electronic calls to lay near your decoy or on trees to help remain concealed.

Turkey Decoys

As mentioned earlier, a realistic turkey decoy will go a long way to inviting turkeys into your space. Since these birds aren’t predators, don’t bother bringing decoys of other species.

Tuned Broadheads

Rather than many traditional and lighter arrows, you’ll want a thicker-ended broadhead to make sure you’re bringing an arrow that can easily pierce a turkey with a single shot.

Reliable Bow

Most bows will work when it comes to turkey bowhunting, but if you want fully reliable options at any skill level, you’ll likely have the best accuracy and firing speed with a compound bow or crossbow.

Concealing Cover

While you can use higher treestand or natural cover, ground blinds give you the best mix of open shooting space and deceptive cover that turkeys won’t be able to see you through.

Conclusion

Photo credit: preparingwithdave.com

Turkeys might seem easy on account of their size and slower pace, but they’re hardly a walk in the park if you don’t know what you’re doing. Make sure you bring all the gear you need and know what to expect, or else you’re bound to lose your target or fail to find one in the first place.

People Also Ask

If you’re especially new to turkey bowhunting and need a few more tips, these are some of the most common questions. Knowing the answers to these will surely give you an edge while learning how to bow hunt this popular and iconic prey.

What Time Should I Start Turkey Hunting?

Turkeys are easiest to hunt around sunrise since they generally won’t be as active and will be close to a trackable roosting tree. You can usually find this roosting tree the night before by using loud calls to startle them from a distance and trick them into calling back.

What Is the Best Turkey Call For Beginners?

Any call that you feel comfortable doing is usually the one to stick with, but box calls are usually the easiest way to learn what they sound like and how loud they get. They use wooden tools that imitate turkey noises through friction and won’t require as much skill or effort as using your vocal skills.

Jeff

My name is Jeff and I have been hunting and fishing for over 40 years. I am an avid archery lover, bass fisherman, and all-around outdoorsman. Currently, I'm obsessed with elk hunting but I'm sure I'll move onto a different favorite soon. You gotta love hunting for that reason :) If you have any questions, or just want chat about your latest hunting score or big catch, you can reach me at admin@biggamelogic.com. Read more about Big Game Logic.