More and more archery hunters are spring turkey hunting. They choose the bow over the shotgun for the challenge and the reward of harvesting a gobbler with a bow. The challenge is real, but with the right gear and a few key tips for bow hunting turkeys, it becomes less intimidating.
There are many articles out there on spring turkey hunting with a bow. Instead of going through the basics, we are going to focus on more advanced tactics and some specialized turkey hunting gear for archery hunters.
Turkey Hunting with a Bow
Spring gobbler hunting, particularly with a bow, has a different level of complexity. First, you still have to win the battle between you and the turkey. They pose a formidable challenge, even without incorporating a bow as your weapon of choice. Second, the turkey hunting equipment is different. Unlike hunting turkeys with a shotgun, there are more pieces of gear to manage and work with. Finally, the setup is non-traditional. Because of the movement involved, you have a hard time killing a bird without utilizing a blind, which is often new for many turkey hunters. Let’s continue with a few advanced strategies for bow hunting turkeys.
Advanced Tips and Tactics for Bow Hunting Turkeys
Harvesting a bird in spring with a bow rarely happens by chance. It takes a lot of effort and skill to put a gobbler on the ground. Here are the tactics that get it done.
Spend More Time Scouting Than Hunting
Unlike hunting with a shotgun for spring turkeys, a bow hunter has less opportunity to chase birds. The run-and-gun tactics you hear so much about, and which are successful, don’t apply here. Scouting then becomes more critical.
Scouting hard in the preseason allows you to know where a mature bird roosts, where he lands in the morning, where he feeds, and where he travels during the day. This information allows you to set up appropriately and ambush him at any point during the day.
Trail cameras are an important tool when scouting birds for spring turkey hunting. You can’t be everywhere and you don’t want to bump birds before the season, so use trail cameras to gather information before spring turkey season.
- Scout multiple areas at the same time using trail cameras starting in February and continuing through the season.
- Don’t stop scouting once the season starts. Gobblers will change patterns as the season progresses and in-season scouting will allow you to plan hunts more effectively.
- Scout from a distance when you are in the field. Don’t bust a bird while scouting. Doing so can destroy an entire area for turkey hunting season.
- Save your calling for the season. Calling during preseason scouting can lead to call-shy birds once the season starts.
Multi-purpose Turkey Decoys
Turkey hunting decoys are not only for luring a gobbler into shooting range. You need to think of them from a multi-purpose perspective. First, yes they do act as an attractant. In combination with calling, a decoy will almost always improve your chances of harvesting a bird. But the other purpose they serve is to distract a gobbler. Use them to your advantage. The correct setup will not only bring a bird in, but they will distract them so you can get a good shot.
Correct turkey decoy placement is key. You need to know how far to shoot a turkey effectively with your bow setup. Decoys need to be close enough for a good shot but not too close to make a bird suspicious. Also, keep them on your shooting side and position your blind between them and where you think the bird will come from.
You don’t need a flock of decoys. Turkeys in spring turkey season rarely group up in large flocks. Likewise, your decoy setups should only include a few birds. For most situations, a jake and hen setup or a single hen is all you need.
Vary Calling Techniques
Bow hunting turkeys requires the ability to use a mouth call (because your hands need to be free). Be able to at least yelp, cutt, and purr with a mouth call. However, don’t limit your calling to only mouth calls. Use a box call or slate call for projecting over distances and then switch to a good mouth call as they approach. Combo turkey call kits like those available from H.S. Strut™ provide the right mix of calling techniques in one package.
Turkey Hunting Blind Strategies
Tackling turkey hunting season in the spring with a bow almost always occurs from a ground blind. Whether you hunt from a traditional ground blind or a bale blind, they both provide the necessary concealment to be able to draw on a closing gobbler. These strategies for spring bow hunting turkeys from a blind will improve your chances.
- Close all the windows in the blind except for the one where you expect to shoot from. This keeps you more concealed and able to reposition when needed. Although make sure the closed windows are easily opened. A hung–up bird or one that approaches unexpectantly may require you to adjust your setup.
- Keep the inside of the blind free of debris (e.g., leaves, sticks, and other clutter). You don’t want anything that will create noise inside your turkey hunting blind, especially when a bird is close and you need to reposition.
- Be smart about blind placement. Turkeys are less curious than deer about something that looks out of place, such as a blind in the middle of a field. However, it still makes sense to use a bale blind or place a blind in a concealed spot to eliminate suspicion.
Vital Turkey Bow Hunting Gear for Spring Birds
The right gear puts birds on the ground in the spring. This turkey bow hunting gear list is focused on just that, the archery hunter. Of course you’ll also need the standard turkey hunting gear, but we are also focusing on specific turkey hunting equipment for bow hunters. First, here’s a basic list of six items every turkey hunter needs (besides the bow/shotgun):
- Turkey calls
- Camo apparel (black clothing inside a hunting blind)
- Boots (snake or rubber)
- Insect repellant
- Turkey hunting vest (or pack)
Specifically for bow hunting turkeys, the additional items below when combined with the basics above complete your turkey hunting gear for spring.
Turkey Hunting Blind
Not all turkey hunting blinds are created equal. There are good ones and ones that have other purposes. Choosing a hunting blind for turkeys requires a few considerations. Design, size, and features like concealment and weather resistance, all play a factor. Turkey hunting blinds have to have a large open space to draw from. Don’t think that as a bow hunter you can just set one up and be ready to hunt. You need to practice from them just as you would practice from a tree stand for deer season.
Any kind of spring turkey hunting requires you to know the shot distance. You have the get that bird into your sweet spot in terms of range. Ideally, you have your blind set up and either have decoys out or have a distance marker (e.g., tree, shrub, etc.) at a known distance. A rangefinder comes in handy to mark those distances accurately.
A good chair is comfortable enough for all–day sits, but it is also silent enough to allow you to move/swivel when a bird sneaks in quietly. The Muddy Swivel Ground Seat is mobile enough to move from blind to blind, but it gives you a silent perch to wait for a gobbler to get into range.
Hunting Blind Bow Holder
Another requirement for bow hunting turkeys is a bow holder. Having both hands free to call is important while also keeping your bow at arm’s length and ready. A bow holder in a blind is a necessity. This piece of turkey hunting equipment securely and safely holds your bow and even other hunting accessories while hunting from a ground blind for turkeys.
Bow hunting turkeys is inherently different than hunting them with a shotgun. Spring turkey season is rapidly approaching. Use these turkey hunting tips and load up with the right gear to make your spring bow season more productive.