Wild turkeys have incredible vision, equated to that of a hawk or 8X binoculars. They see in color and have excellent depth perception as well. As a result, everything within their 270+ degree field of view is in focus, all the time. It’s an enormous tool for turkeys and one that hunters have to work hard to beat. For archery turkey hunters there isn’t the ability to subtly move your finger and pull a trigger like you would with a shotgun, instead you still have to draw your bow all the while avoiding the turkey’s line of sight. There are a few ways to accomplish this, the first of which deals with your location. Larry says that clearly, ground blinds offer great advantages for archery hunters in hiding movement. When it comes to setting up a ground blind Larry says he looks for locations that are shady. By reducing the amount of direct sunlight on your blind, less light will be transferred into the blind illuminating movement. A darker spot will hide your movement more from prying eyes. Next, decoys play an important role. By using methodical decoy placement, you can draw birds into a specific location that is most advantageous for you, the hunter. Larry says hunters should put their decoys in the most prone shooting location from their blind.
All turkeys are a little different and have unique personalities and attitudes. Some come in super aggressive while others are warier. These mannerisms are important to watch, Larry says. Watch the head and snood. Is the snood laying down, flopped over the side of the face or sticking up in the air? The snood, changes appearance based on mood and activity and these subtle features can help you determine a turkey’s level of alertness and mood. Birds that come in hot and heavy and right up to the decoys generally circle them. This presents an opportunity for bowhunters, when they have their back to you as they circle the decoy it gives a window for the hunter to draw their bow. At that point, it’s all about waiting for a good shot opportunity. Because their vitals are much smaller than that of big game animals you have far less room for error. Larry says the biggest mistake that archery hunters make is rushing their shot. If you can stay at full draw for a few moments and wait for the turkey to move as it circles the decoy until it presents the ideal shot, you’ll have a higher percentage of success. Sending an arrow too soon and missing your mark to the left or right, by even a small amount, can lead to a tough recovery. Patience and shot placement are key for archery turkey hunters.
Just as important as the proper shot placement, is the equipment you use. Larry shoots a Ritual from Elite Archery, a compound bow that is bad to the bone and a proven tag filler. Larry says on “Respect the Game” they are known for head shots and they like to use Solid Turkey D-Cap broadheads. A constantly moving and bobbing head is a fairly small target, especially with archery equipment so the 4-inch cutting diameter of the D-Cap is valuable. Because they do move so much Larry says the shooter really has to focus, hone in on the target and either wait for the bird to stop or use a call to momentarily stop them. Larry says that strategically placed decoys to bring the birds in even closer can help when going for a head shot. Aim small miss small! If a body shot is more up your alley, Larry recommends the RaptorTrick mechanical broadhead from SlickTrick, an all steel broadhead that delivers a 2-inch cutting diameter upon impact. When it comes to body shots, this is where that small vital area comes into play. Larry will explain how he uses visual cues from the turkey’s wings and body to identify the precise place to send that arrow.
For those that hunt turkeys run and gun style in more western states, or places where you don’t have the advantage of timber and thick vegetation to hide, Larry says using a decoy to hide behind is a solid option. Keeping the decoy between you and the bird(s) at all times is important. Using a good decoy is essential in this case, something that intrigues and keeps the attention of the birds and allows you to make small moves. In this scenario, you’re bound to blow a few stalks, but it’s fun.
Be sure to listen in as Larry McCoy stops by with tips for hunting spring turkeys with archery equipment. Watch “Respect the Game” Tuesdays at 9:30 pm ET on Sportsman Channel or anytime with MyOutdoorTV.