Bows, Guns and Gobblers
Photo by Bowhunting.com
Spring turkey season is officially in full strut here at Mass Pursuit TV. Numerous members of the MPTV team have already hit the southern spring woods in search of big longbeards. It is truly a special time of the year in the outdoors.
All of the turkey hunting vibes in the air mean one thing- it's time to talk more turkey here on the MPTV Blog. More turkey hunting X's and O's, tips and tricks, and of course some food for your turkey hunting thoughts.
We all have our preferences when it comes to hunting, and turkey hunting is no different. Some hunters like mouth calls, while others love to run friction calls like boxes or pot style calls. Some hunters love to hit the woods with their trusty old shotgun, while others grab the Mathews bow and attempt to arrow their spring gobbler.
The beauty of hunting lies within the flexibility that each and every one of us has. Hunting is not a black and white thing. Gear, hunting tactics, and numerous other things may vary but we all have the same opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors.
A good coffee shop conversation for turkey hunters in recent years has been centered upon the debate on bow hunting or shotgun hunting. Is it better to hit the spring woods with a shotgun or a bow?
Fortunately, the answer is incredibly simple: both. Each tool can help you land that big gobbler this spring. You just have to be prepared to hunt accordingly, because bow hunting for that big gobbler can vary greatly from shotgunning.
A lot of traditional shotgun hunters tend to believe that a bow is simply not capable of getting the job done in the spring. That could not be further from the truth. Just a couple of tweaks to your hunting tactics can make a bow just as lethal as that shotgun when it comes to bagging the king of the spring.
Hunting for turkeys with a shotgun gives you plenty of flexibility to run-and-gun for that big longbeard. You can hunt directly from the ground with very little movement required to get that boomstick in shooting position. Also allowing the gun hunter to adjust to the birds and rely less on calling them in. It's a different game with a bow.
While many hunters have harvested big turkeys with a bow right from the ground or in a handmade ground blind, the challenge is incredible. Drawing a compound bow in the open without alerting the keen eye of a turkey is going to be tough. Not impossible, but definitely tough.
Luckily we have an incredible equalizer in the form of ground blinds like our trusty Rhino Blinds. Hunting from a blind can really change the game when it comes to bow hunting for turkeys. Concealing that draw stroke and other movement as you prepare to launch an arrow in the direction of a big tom.
You will also want to give serious consideration to where you are going to place that arrow in the moment of truth. A shotgun affords you the luxury of simply peppering the head and neck area for a clean kill shot. You have to really pick your spot and squeeze off a good arrow to get the job done.
Some really talented archers will go for the ultimate challenge of putting an arrow on the head of a strutting turkey, but that would be a graduate level shot. It is always best to stick to three kill spots on a turkey. That being near the wing joint if a turkey is broadside to you, directly in the center of the tail-fan if the turkey has its back to you, or at the base of the neck if the bird is facing you directly.
Calling tactics and decoying will be just slightly different when you trade the boomstick for your bow. If you stick to the ground blind strategy, you are going to be stationary hunting and blind calling. Meaning that you will likely rely more heavily upon bringing the birds in to you. Let us not forget that we also need to draw the turkeys in much closer with a bow.
Some of the modern turkey shotshell loads and choke tube combinations can afford you an effective kill range of 50 yards or better. You will want to chop that in half or close to it for bow hunting turkeys. Ethical shots should be between 10 and 25 yards. Maybe 30 or 35 yards if you are an extremely talented archer.
Setting some decoys up could be the ticket to bring that bird in close. A lot of bow hunters prefer to set their decoys up at very close distances. Something like 10 to 12 yards in front of the ground blind.
We also have to remember that calling techniques can change accordingly. You may not have relied as heavily upon your calling when running and gunning around the woods with that shotgun. You can utilize your mobility to cut a bird off or to get close enough for it to at least hear your call.
Setting a blind up and being stationary is going to provide a challenge. You have to reach out and call the turkeys in to you. Blind calling can still be very effective. You just have to watch yourself a bit. If birds answer and prove to be pretty close, do not over-call. If you are having trouble striking up a bird, crank up the volume and get loud.
In closing, the tweaks and adjustments are going to be fairly subtle. You are not reinventing the wheel by any means. Turkey hunting basics remain the same. Small changes are all that you need.
You may just find that hitting the spring woods and fields with your bow in hand is even more of a challenge than loading up the shotgun like you have every season prior.
When in doubt, go for the best of both worlds. If you live in a state that affords you multiple gobblers, go for the bow-gun slam. Bag that first bird with the shotgun and take the pressure off. Crank up the difficulty a bit by popping up the ground blind and trying to put an arrow in your second bird.