Fall archery turkey season opens Saturday
Try these tips for tagging your bird with a bow
Keeping in step with the white-tailed deer restoration, the popularity of bowhunting for deer has taken a quantum leap over the past five decades. Today, the combination of healthy wild turkey populations in every state except Alaska, and the tremendous number of bowhunters, has led to an increase in the number of archers who pursue wild turkeys.
One famous bowhunter who has carried his zeal for hunting antlered game to that of wild turkeys is Realtree Camouflage inventor Bill Jordan. His practical approach to archery equipment for turkeys should encourage other archers to give this challenging facet of the sport a try.
When asked why he started bowhunting for turkeys, Jordan replied, “More than anything else it was the added challenge” of hunting with primitive weapons. Over the past several seasons, Jordan has killed dozens of gobblers with a bow.
Archery bird basics
Jordan has enjoyed a high success rate when bowhunting for wild turkeys because he follows a simple set of strategies.
A primary credo Jordan follows is to only shoot when a very high percentage shot presents itself. “I’d rather let a turkey or deer go rather than wound one,” Jordan said. “Make sure that you put everything in your favor. Where it’s marginal it’s better to let a bird go and go find and set up on another gobbler. It’s not so much that I’m a great shot with a bow, I only take very high percentage shots.”
One of the major obstacles in bowhunting for wild turkeys is being caught in the act of drawing your bow when a gobbler is at close range. Special precautions developed through years of experience by successful bowmen, like Jordan, will up your chances of bagging a sharp-eyed turkey with your bow.
Jordan’s tips that follow are good advice for any turkey hunter wishing to try bowhunting for these elusive creatures.
1. Learn turkey anatomy. “You owe it to the game to be the best you can be,” Jordan says. Shoot for the vitals. Arrow placement should be for the rather small heart and lung area or the spine.
2. “Become comfortable shooting from a sitting position,” he adds. Jordan uses a small, simple stool that is nothing more that a compact seat and a monopod leg. He also advises archers to practice shooting from the sitting, or kneeling position as much as possible.
3. Get behind cover. “Set up behind a tree rather than in front of it when bowhunting for turkeys,” Jordan says. “Everyone has been taught to sit in front of a tree when calling a gobbler, but to be successful you’ve got to learn to set up and shoot from behind cover,” Jorday says.
4. Use a second caller. “It helps to hunt with a partner, so the second person can keep calling to divert the gobbler’s attention when a bird gets close,” Jordan adds. “It helps a lot that our camera men are turkey hunters. After I get a bird coming, they start calling when the bird is close to bow range and it throws the bird off. If the bird is not looking for me it’s much easier to draw undetected.”
5. Be confident in your equipment. “I believe that you have to be comfortable with your bow and take high percentage shots. Hunt turkeys with the bow that you deer hunt with.”
6. Limit your range. “Don’t overshoot the distance you are comfortable shooting accurately,” he says. “I limit my shots to 30 yards and under.”