Become a Better Turkey Hunter
Posted on April 5, 2013
Evolving into a more successful turkey bowhunter is no short life lesson, but with the right tricks and tips, you can lessen the learning curve.
I couldn’t believe my eyes as I watched the longbeard slowly swaggering towards my ambush. I was tucked in my Double Bull blind, sticking out like a sore thumb in the middle of a hayed CRP field. The thought of this working had crossed my mind, but my track record turkey hunting made me think the chances were slim.
As the tom strutted into range, I couldn’t contain my excitement and decided to take the 30-yard shot. My arrow grazed off his side, and I couldn’t believe I had blown my chance to arrow my first gobbler. Amazingly, the arrow only upset the bird and made him more aggressive! He charged into my decoys at a meager 10 yards and strutted around, allowing me time to nock another arrow. This time the shot hit the mark, and I watched the bird expire in the short grass. After many failed attempts to take a mature gobbler with my shotgun, I had finally done it with my bow. I was hooked, and I now look forward to chasing gobbling turkeys in the spring almost as much as the first cool day in the fall.
I didn’t start hunting turkeys until I was in college, and my weapon of choice was a shotgun. I had heard stories about birds running 400 yards across open fields, gobbling the whole way, coming right into the decoys. And about birds flying off the roost right to a hunter’s setup. As far as I was concerned, these were mythical tales because I never experienced anything similar to these stories. For me, turkey hunting was very frustrating with little success. I realize now that I was extremely impatient and had un-realistic expectations from some of the stories I had heard. The scenarios I referenced above can and will happen in turkey hunting, but they certainly aren’t the norm.
As I matured as a hunter, and especially a bowhunter, I had a newfound interest in chasing the large ground-dwelling birds. It wasn’t until I invested in a quality ground blind that turkey hunting became much more enjoyable and success became more regular. However, in the early years of blind hunting, I still struggled to kill birds consistently. I had no trouble setting up in locations where I would have close encounters with strutting long beards, but getting them in range for archery equipment still was difficult.
I continued this frustrating endeavor for several years with some success. Recently, the game was drastically changed into my favor when I added a component to the decoy spread. I had been using a typical set with one to three hens along with a jake, or just setting out a lone hen. Fixed-tail strutting tom decoys were becoming the rage in the turkey hunting industry. But I decided to take my setup a step further and incorporated a turkey fan on a stake that I could raise and lower with the tug of a string, simulating a bird going in and out of strut. This addition was all that was needed to make success more regular.
Be sure to check out the May issue of Bow and Arrow Hunting for the full story!
By Matt Palmquist