Where fall and winter seasons end more challenges begin…
All that remains of the fall and winter hunting seasons are memories, dirty boots and a bow stored for the long haul; a sad manifestation of overlooked opportunities to come… unless you broaden your perspective.
Whether you’re on the water or higher ground, year-round hunting opportunities exist for everyone, so the question becomes, “Do you have that itch to scratch?” For some of us, bowhunting is something of an addiction. We become fidgety, even lost or despondent if we aren’t actively searching high or low for the next fix. Sadly, searches often overlook the obvious – stick-and-string turkey hunting!
Hundreds of thousands of hunters have killed turkeys with shotguns and rifles; however, few pursue them with a bow. Last spring, I took my BowTech to task and came up with a great tom as well as a treasure trove of great memories. This season, I’m looking forward to that short drive out to Runnels County for some more spring turkey excitement!
Bowhunting is tough; chasing turkeys with bow-and-arrow is a natural progression from shotgunning. Consider this; if you are within shotgun range, you are often within bow range; that simple realization is the only shift many of us needed to find our next fix.
Of course, hunting takes a more complicated road than just a shot. Luring longbeards in begins can be quite a challenge so now is the right time to invest time in learning patterns. Scouting is the perfect tool in a hunter’s bag to learn those patterns and anyone good turkey hunter would agree that given the opportunity to scout, it’s an integral part of a bowhunter’s success in the turkey woods.
Even with shooting practice and scouting, we don’t normally drop a wise tom by accident. Turkeys are tough! Numerous variables need to come together at once. One hiccup and your hunt may very well be over with nothing on the ground. But, when everything does come together, buckle your seatbelt for some of the most adrenaline charged hunting you can imagine!
Whether you chase gobblers with a bow or shotgun, here are some great tips to up your odds in the turkey woods this spring:
Setups: Like real estate, location is everything! Scouting is critical. NOW is the time to look for signs such as tracks, scat, feathers and roosting areas. If you find a roosting area slip back to around within 100 yards or so at dusk and scan the trees to pinpoint roosts. Consider posting trail cameras to pattern movements. Once you establish roosting areas and patterns of movement, try to setup your hunting spot a couple hundred yards from the roost in the direction of most active movement.
Blend In: Camouflage is critical when turkey hunting. Pick a pattern that best matches your surroundings and put it on. Breaking up your silhouette is the name of the game. By the way, the best camouflage on the planet is NOT MOVING!
Calling: Now is the time to practice calling. Like anything you want to excel at, practice is the key – do it often and become proficient with various types of calls, i.e. pot (slate/glass), box, diaphragm (mouth), etc.
Shot Placement: Accuracy and broadheads are critical. Bowhunters must practice often. Shot placement can be incredibly challenging and demands adherence to “aim small, miss small”. Best shots on turkeys are directly through the lower back or the head. A broadside shot
can also be effective if you can visualize where the leg meets the body; this spot is concealed by the wing. Mechanical broadheads with large cutting diameters, like Xecutioner Broadheads are excellent for turkey hunting. Xecutioner Broadheads’ Tim Wells Signature Series Slocker Small-Game heads make great collars behind your mechanical broadhead to increase shock and reduce pass-through.
Following these tips won’t guarantee you that boss tom but they’ll certainly increase your chances. As a last note, most of the turkeys I’ve harvested have been around 9:30 a.m. or even later. When you think it’s time to end the morning hunt, don’t! Toms often leave hens mid-morning for other interests and in general have been known to spend most of the day milling around – makes lunch a bit harder to swallow doesn’t it?