When spring arrives, my level of excitement increases because I know turkey season is just around the corner. I do a lot of turkey hunting with both a shotgun and bow throughout the spring, and I’ve come up with a few tips that you might have overlooked in the past. A few of these suggestions are archery specific, but others work just as well for firearm hunters, too.
1. Practice: When it comes to shooting and successfully killing turkeys, precise shooting is key. Not only do you need to hit the specific spot you’re aiming, but you also need to have a good understanding of where you should be shooting. Practice, practice and more practice is essential. It is also important to take close-range bow shots and wait until the turkey isn’t moving to minimize the chances of making a bad shot.
2. Broadhead Selection: Whatever you decide for your broadhead choice, remember to shoot it prior to the season to see how it impacts the target. I prefer the Rage X-treme Turkey broadhead because it has a cut-on-contact tip and a huge cutting diameter (over 2 inches) with specialized meat hooks that slow the broadhead down as it goes through the turkey’s body, causing maximum trauma. The video at the bottom of this page is a compilation of several turkey kills I’ve filmed while using the Rage X-treme Turkey broadhead.
3. Decoys: I’m a huge proponent of using top-notch turkey decoys to seal the deal. I can’t tell you how many turkeys have seen my Dave Smith Decoys from across a field and then come right into bow range. In addition, these lifelike decoys hold turkeys after they arrive, allowing you to get quite a show and take your time to get the perfect shot.
There are a few decoys I always use in my setup regardless of the time of year. I like to use a submissive hen, jake, and other feeding hens. The number of big gobblers that strut in and then jump on the back of my submissive hen is truly shocking. What makes it even more effective is having a live jake on the top of my submissive hen and then having a big gobbler see this scene. Even if the big gobbler is in the company of hens, it seems he can’t resist coming over to kick that jake off the hen decoy. Knowing this, Dave Smith Decoys took it up a notch this year creating the Mating Motion Pair, which simulates this exact setup. In my own experience, this is something that toms can’t seem to resist.
4. Scouting: Taking the time to do a little scouting for turkeys can be extremely beneficial. Just like when you scout for deer, it’s important to know what the birds are doing day in and day out. Where do they roost? Where do they feed? What fields do they hit during midday? We all know that time is limited, so using a trail camera can be extremely helpful as well. I have SpyPoint cameras out for this season, which will help me cover more places at once. What I also love is the fact that the photos are sent directly to my phone, giving me instant feedback on what is happening in the moment.
5. Patience: As a rule, when bowhunting turkeys, the less you run and gun, the greater your chance of success. Sit it out and wait. And when turkeys do come into your decoys, let them put on a show and wait for the perfect shot. Don’t rush it. Also, if you’re not the best at calling turkeys, then let your decoys do the work. If you’ve done your job scouting and know where turkeys are frequenting, simply set up a ground blind, place your decoys and wait. It’s amazing how effective this strategy can be, especially to highly pressured birds.
6. Scent Control: This is more for minimizing your chances of spooking deer and therefore turkeys. I like to spray down with Scent Killer Gold before heading out for turkeys because so often where I turkey hunt, deer are also abundant. Unfortunately, if deer spook out of the area, then so will the turkeys. By covering your clothing with odor-killing spray, you can truly improve your odds.
I’ve found this to be especially true during mornings and evenings when setting up on fields where deer may be feeding as well. One year I had two big gobblers coming right in, the wind switched and unfortunately all the deer busted out and the turkeys took off, too. Now that I use Scent Killer Gold when turkey hunting, this has become one less concern.
Check out the video below where I showcase several turkey kills while using Dave Smith Decoys and the Rage X-treme Turkey broadhead.