Turkeys are bowhunting’s ultimate challenge. In fact, I have had better luck shooting pheasant out of the air with my bow than I have turkeys on the ground. That can be contributed to my turkey jinx more than anything, but just because Tommy Three Toes continually vexes me does not mean I won’t be out this Spring looking to sink an arrow in his side.
Broadhead selection for turkey is important and a sore spot for me. I used think any ol’ broadhead would do, after all, it’s only an 18- to 25-pound bird.
I mean, if my bow would let the air out of a monster Pennsylvania whitetail, how hard could a turkey be?
My turkey jinx showed me just how wrong I could be and went something like this.
I was hunting down in Georgia with Mossy Oak’s crew. The turkey jinx already bit me several times in the past and I was dead-set on breaking my losing streak. Mossy Oak had supplied me some of their best turkey experts to make sure it happened. It was my jinx against their combined skills.
Time to Let the Feathers Fly
The weather hadn’t cooperated for the first couple of days, but my southern guide, Jeff, had a few tricks to turn the tide. We headed to a secret spot, a stand of planted pines, and Jeff started talkin’ turkey. Before long, we could hear gobblers headed our way. The pines did not offer much cover and we did not have a choice because the toms were reluctant to come out. We started putting the sneak on the birds to close the distance. After that, we were relying on our camo to tip the scales in our favor. A short time later, I spotted two toms coming through the trees.
The toms put on a marvelous show. They were dragging their wing tips and strutting. They had heard a receptive lady about and were committed to impressing and winning her favor, but I had other plans. At 25 yards, with their eyes pointed in the opposite direction, I began the draw. I centered the biggest tom between my 20- and 30-yard pins. The tom turned straight toward me as I loosed the arrow with its massive, mechanical broadhead featuring a four-inch cutting diameter.
The arrow center-punched the tom’s chest and bowled him over twice. We jumped up and ran toward the bird. However, before we could close the distance and get a boot on his head, he flew away—with my arrow dangling out of his chest!
I couldn’t believe it.
“How many pounds are you shooting?” Ben asked. “Who cares,” I replied. “How do you not penetrate a turkey?”
All hope wasn’t lost. Ben is one of the best in the turkey woods and saw the bird go down about 150 yards away. He marked the spot and we high-tailed it in that direction. We only searched for a few minutes before we found the bird. He wasn’t hard to spot—flying through the air.
Ben recovered my arrow. It had penetrated about ¾-inch and bent one of the blades back like a horseshoe. Reviewing the video footage, we decided I must have hit the knob on the end of the keel bone perfectly. That, combined with the turkey rolling over a couple times, absorbed the rest of the energy. My turkey jinx had not only bested me again, it had sunk some of Mossy Oak’s best. What’s that old saying? “I’d rather be lucky than good.” I had brought good, but not the right brand of luck.
Broadheads for Successful Turkey Hunters
So, while you may not want to use the broadhead I had chosen for that hunt (the company has long since gone out of business. Any guesses why?) there are several broadheads hunters are having great luck with. For recommendations I asked bowhunting expert, Bob Robb for his top choices which included: Rage; G5 Tekan and Tekan II; New Archery Products Spitfire, Scorpion XP,Shockwave and Gobbler Getter; Wasp Jackhammer SST; Mar-Den Vortex; Rocket Steelhead XL, Ultimate Steel, Miniblaster, and Meat Seeker; Game Tracker First Cut EXP and Silvertip; G-5 F-15 Dual Blade; Grim Reaper Razortip and Razorcut SS and Aftershock Archery HyperShock—just to get you started. Of course plan B would have to be the Gobbler Guillotine from Arrowdynamic Solutions, which is designed to literally take a bird’s head right off. It’s either a clean miss or decapitation.
Broadhead weight is a personal choice and shouldn’t make a difference on turkey-sized game. However, a lack of accuracy will sink your hunt faster than anything. Be sure to let several different heads fly and see which one shoots best out of your bow.
Broadhead weight is not important, except in terms of how it affects the accuracy of your bow. Accurate arrow flight and razor-sharp blades are going to be most important.
Although the earlier story of my failed experience would make you think differently, many bowhunters put a “stopper” behind the broadhead to reduce penetration. The reasoning is that the reduced penetration will ensure the arrow shaft stays in the bird and transfers 100 percent of potential energy to the turkey. With the arrow still in the body cavity, it will be much more difficult for the turkey to flop or fly off (but not impossible) before you can race out and stomp on his head. The Bateman Small Game Stopper, Zwickey Scorpio and Muzzy Grasshopper are three excellent products for this.
After watching others successfully harvest turkeys with arrows… and my own experiences, I cannot say whether or not you should use the stopper. Both sides have advantages and disadvantages. Here in Illinois we still have snow on the ground and several more inches expected today, but I’ll be spending a couple of hours in the basement tonight tuning my bow and sorting through a collection of broadheads. Once everything is flying straight, I’ll watch the weather for a warmer day and head to the range with the heads to see which one will be tasked with the daunting challenge of being pitted against my turkey jinx.
Images courtesy Cheaper Than Dirt