Fans of Caddyshack remember well the swing advice, “Be the ball, Danny.”
While this advice is certainly debatable in regards to its benefits on the golf course, a modification of the quote to “Be the bird” can help you kill a turkey this spring, even if you hunt with a bow.
The internet is filled with amazing videos of gun hunters “reaping” turkeys. This technique can best be described as hiding behind a turkey fan as you crawl toward a field-dwelling longbeard. Of course, supreme caution must be used whenever you pretend to be a game animal/bird, and you should check your local game laws to see whether it’s legal to stalk turkeys on your favorite gobbler ground. At a minimum, don’t try reaping a turkey unless you’re on private land and 100 percent sure another hunter isn’t in the area.
Reaping is predominantly a gun-hunting technique, but that doesn’t mean archers can’t modify the system to work for them.
Case in point: In eastern South Dakota, each spring I purchase an over-the-counter nonresident archery turkey tag. I have access to 160 acres of outstanding turkey property, and while I own several pop-up ground blinds, it’s often too windy to keep the blinds in place on the prairie.
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With the reaping method in my mind, I decided to attempt killing a bow bird in plain sight. By that, I mean I didn’t wear camo from head to toe and try to blend into the prairie. Instead, I dressed in a camo hat, facemask and pants, but I wore a black shirt. I expected birds to enter an ag field at a certain high point on the prairie, so I set up my ambush eight yards away from the most likely fence crossing. In front of me, I placed two Primos Jake-Mobile strutting decoys. I hoped to shoot between the two fans. Off to the right, I placed a Flextone Funky Chicken jake decoy.
This point is important: I was sitting butt on the ground (a predator-style seat with back support is mandatory), and the dekes were right on top of me. I left just enough room to draw my bow. The way I figured it, any toms or jakes that appeared on the field would see a cluster of birds, and my black shirt would look like the body of turkey.
As the photo above shows, my system worked to perfection. Two jakes steadily walked up to confront my three decoys, and I simply sat still and waited. When the jakes slowed their approach at eight yards, I drew my bow. They were looking directly at me and saw my movement, but because of my black shirt, I looked like either the body or tail fan of a gobbler. A split-second later, I dumped the closest jake at six yards with a Magnus Broadheads Bullhead, which is designed for head/neck shots.
While I didn’t film the kill, I did take a smartphone video of a hen that showed up to my decoy spread five minutes after my jake stopped flopping. The clip will give you a good idea of the windswept prairie and my decoy set up.
Good luck . . . and be the bird!
Image by Dave Maas