i t is hard to believe, but it is turkey time again—already!
I love turkey hunting. I have to admit that when I am out in the woods, hunting turkeys is even more exciting than hunting whitetail deer.
I know for some readers that may be difficult to understand, but if you think about it, it really can be true. The thing I love most about turkey hunting is that you are not hunting the turkey—the turkey is hunting you.
Once you locate a gobbler, you call to him like a lonely, love-sick hen. If he answers with a loud gobble, the hunt is on! It takes a little bit of strategy to know when to call and when to stop calling so he’ll come into your setup looking for that hen. That is the fun part.
Does it work every time? No, of course not, but when it does, the memory of each hunt is enough to get you out of a warm bed at dark thirty in the morning and out in the turkey woods year after year.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE deer hunting. It was how I was introduced to this outdoor sport. And every year I prepare as best I can, and wait patiently for whitetail season to begin. But that is not until the fall. A good spring turkey hunt is exactly what the doctor ordered to get the heart pumping with excitement (at least in the woods!).
I have been asked many times if it is better for me to hunt these birds with a bow or my shotgun. I have just as much fun with both. It is just a question of how much time I want to put into the hunt.
It is, without a doubt, much more challenging to take a bird with a bow. The hearing and especially the eyesight of a wild turkey is absolutely unbelievable. The movement of drawing a bowstring back without the turkey seeing you presents its own challenge. With a shotgun, you can rest the gun up on your knee, simply wait for the bird to come into range, pick your shot, and the entire hunt is soon a memory.
Also, remember the range that a shotgun would have compared to a well-placed arrow. A 40- or even 50-yard shot with a gun is not unheard of as long as you have a three-inch magnum turkey load shotgun shell, combined with a super tight choke on the end of your gun. A clean bowshot is usually no longer than 20 yards. Longer shots have been taken with some success, but the average bow hunter is much more accurate at this closer range.
So now the question remains about where the best-shot placement on a turkey would be. Again, the answer to this, would depend on whether you are using a gun or bow.
If a shotgun is your firearm of choice, then the perfect shot is to aim for the bottom part of the head. Using this as your aiming point will allow a number 4 or number 5, three-inch shell to spread the BB load to cover the neck and head.
It is the most humane shot as it will kill the bird immediately, and will not ruin any of the delicious meat. I have heard some horror stories of hunters that aim for the broadside of the turkey at questionable distances and have wounded the animal. At 40+ yards the BBs might have a hard time penetrating the amount of feathers that are covering the vitals.
You might not believe that, but remember the bird has his wings covering the vital area, plus the feathers under that wing. Consequently, a coyote, fox or any other meat-eating critter will thank you for the fine meal that they found.
If, however, you decide to use a bow for your quarry, then you should aim for the base of the wing where it meets the turkey’s body. A turkey has a small kill zone and a well-placed arrow at the base of the wing will do the deed nicely.
I would suggest that if you are hunting these birds with a bow and arrow, invest in a pop-up blind. Turkeys pay no attention at all to these “new” bushes in their living room and it will totally conceal any movement as you draw back your bow. A few decoys 15 yards or so in front of your blind will make your set up more realistic and will help ensure a successful hunt.
There is one other deadly spot to aim if you have a bow.
Once, while hunting with Keith Warren and filming for Keith Warren Outdoors hunting and fishing adventure television show, Keith called in a beautiful, mature gobbler. The bird came in all fanned out and started his strutting parade for our decoy.
It was fun to watch and Keith wanted me to wait for a little while so he could get more of this big boy on film. Finally, the gobbler turned toward the decoy and away from us as he continued to fan out his tail feathers. Keith whispered to me to “go ahead and shoot him right up the butt.” I must admit it brought a smile to my face at the time, but it worked.
That big turkey had no idea he was about to have a bad day. After I shot, as if on cue, he flew directly toward the camera with a razor sharp broadhead embedded deep in his vitals. With his tail feathers in full strut, there was no way he would be able to see any movement from my bow. Perfect!
A wild turkey is not only good for you, but some consider it to be the best tasting wild game in the woods, and I agree. So good luck all you turkey hunters. The gobblers are calling for you. Don’t disappoint them.
Have fun and hunt safe out there.
Email Lou Marullo at [email protected]