Avid feather collectors from across the country are buckling the locks to their shotgun case and shoving it back into their closet. Many hunters are looking for the ultimate bowhunting challenge – bird by bow.

Hunting turkey with a stick and string is a radically new undertaking that has grown to be a bird-busting bonanza. The turkey hunting population agrees that it’s a gobble of a good time and great chance to throw carbon into the vitals of a strutting tom.

Natural human instinct enjoys a fresh dare every now and then – an opportunity to defeat the odds, win big, and put a  checkmark on the to do list! Ultimately, accomplishment gives us a feeling of achievement, self-assurance, and triumph. Slicing an arrow through a collage of shimmering feathers and into the tiny vitals of a wild turkey will boost any hunter’s confidence and is sure to raise ego in the pecking order.

Typical turkey loads are made to splash a devastating face-wash full of BBs into a turkey’s head and neck area – however, bow hunting kill shots will change your aiming point drastically.

The heart and lung area on a turkey are no bigger than the size of your daughter’s softball. A tom’s sweet spot is buried beneath a ball of feathers in the vicinity of their core area. Often times, bow hunters are tossed a spur-ball when locating the vitals on a bird, considering that we are used to delivering arrows directly behind the shoulder on antlered critters.

Below you will find a few kill zone shots for turkey.

Vitals of a turkey

Broadside:

Shot placement for birds that are broadside should be focused on the wing-butt, which can be found by working your eyes up the wing to find a band of black feathers. Punching an arrow through the mid-section of the bird will result in a killer shot. You may also find that working your eyes up the legs toward the vertical center of the body will also lead to the same results.

Face-to-Face:

Pompous gobblers just can’t get enough strutting their stuff. Driven by ego, dominance, and adrenaline, it’s no different than you or I pushing out our chest before we walk into a room. This is the shot that will most likely be presented while the bird is on his way to your setup. During times when birds are facing your direction, set your pin above their beard and release. This will send an arrow into the vitals and possibly knockout the spine. Don’t get caught off guard. Birds have incredible vision, which makes pulling the bow back twice as hard.

Backside:

The deadliest shot for turkey is targeted where the tail feathers merge together – the turkey’s anus. Jamming an arrow into this portion of the bird will sever the spine and blow through the vitals like an exploding water balloon. This shot selection is significant for several reasons, due to a bird’s keen eyesight. There’s no better way to knock longbeard down when he’s facing away from you and his tail fan block’s his visual radar allowing you ample time to draw your bow back.

Essential Equipment:

We have been wired to shoot our bow for big game at high poundage, however, it’s important to back your bow down a bit. My G5 Prime is set to 50 pounds because there are situations that you may find yourself holding your bow back at full draw for a long period of time waiting for the turkey to close the distance or give you an ethical shot.

The G5 T3

Your broadhead selection is another choice you must make. My preference is the G5 T3, which provides a devastating 1-1/2 inch cutting diameter. More of your arrow’s energy is transferred to the bird with mechanicals than fixed blades. Turkeys don’t have the bone mass as a deer, so extreme penetration is not as critical as tissue damage and accuracy.

Lastly, a ground blind is one of the most valuable assets to consider when plucking a bird with a bow. You will need a pop up ground blind that offers you space, shooting options, and portability. Eastman Outdoors offers the Gorilla LX5, which has 6’ shooting diameter and gives you the concealment that you’ll need when you have a bird within spitting distance.

I insist all bird hunters pick up a bow for a few days before breaking out the shotgun. Hunting turkey with a bow is a completely different style that begs for hunter error and failed opportunities. It’s a great way to test the hunter in you.

Picture of turkey anatomy: National Bowhunters Education Foundation, http://www.nbef.org/

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2 thoughts on “Bird by Bow: Aiming Guide for Bow Hunting Turkeys

  1. The broadside anatomy chart that is shown in this article is the copyrighted illustration from the NBEF Advanced Turkey Anatomy and Shot Placement Guide which if you look in the lower lefthand corner you can see has been lined through.  The NBEF is a non-profit organization with the mission of furthering the sport of bowhunting through education.  Give credit where credit is due!  

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