Monday, March 26, 2012

Bowhunting Turkeys, Think Like A Gun Hunter

© By Othmar Vohringer

I am strongly considering getting a Merriam’s turkey with my Excalibur crossbow this spring season. Hunting turkeys with a bow is one of the toughest challenges known to hunters but I’ve never been shy to try new things or mixing different hunting tactics to make live easier. Here are some of the turkey bowhunting traditions I broke with.

Many bowhunters use ground blinds to ambush turkeys. While ground blinds have certain advantages over other turkey bowhunting tactics it is a fact that most blinds take some time to set up and additional camouflaging is necessary to make them blend into the surrounding. Ground blinds also make many hunters stay put when they should be on the move and go top where the turkey action is.

Ditch the ground blind this year and be more mobile and aggressive. This might be just the ticket you need to get a big tom this spring season. The most successful turkey hunters, be that with bow or gun, are those that are not afraid to seize every opportunity, even if that means to change plans and make smart, quick decisions. To do this you have to be mobile and fast. Hunting without a blind gives you this mobility.

Think like a shotgun hunter, move more, set up fast and quietly and kill more birds.
To do this you need to camo up from head to toe. Turkeys have arguably the best eyesight of any wild game species. Add to that their constant awareness, or call it paranoia, of danger and you have one though critter to deal with. Wearing good camouflage from head to toe, including face and hands, is an absolute must. To stay mobile and move quietly the last thing you want is to be weighed down with all sorts of gear. Take the bare minimum on equipment with you. For me the gear list looks something like this; Bow or crossbow, three arrows with broadheads, a box call, pot-type call and a set of diaphragm calls, light hiking boots, a single turkey decoy, small pocket knife and ratchet pruners. Most of the small equipment such as the calls, pruners, knife and so on, fit into a small pack around my waist. When bowhunting I don’t like to wear a turkey hunting vest as it is easy for the bowstring to snag on the vest.

Plan your set up when bowhunting turkeys without a blind. When every move you make can be seen by the birds you need to take special care of how you approach and how you set up.
  1. Determine from where the gobbler is approaching.
  2. Look for tree with a large diameter or any other structure that the tom will have to walk behind before he can approach the decoy. This will give you time to draw your bowstring undetected when the tom can’t see you.
  3. Place the decoy in such a way that the gobbler has to walk past you and within bow shooting range to see the decoy.
Remember too that a tom can approach very quickly but he also can take his sweet time to get within shooting range from the time you draw your string. Lower the draw weight to the legal minimum weight. This will enable you to hold a drawn bow for much longer then one set at a heavy weight. Of course this not apply if you hunt with a crossbow. Where legal crossbows are a great turkey hunting tool.

Another aspect to consider is comfort. There is nothing worse then sitting or kneeling on the ground for a long time and getting uncomfortable. This will invariably lead to fidgeting or leaving the stand to early. Consider taking a small chair along for the hunt it will greatly enhance your comfort. There are many models on the market that are just perfect for turkey bowhunters.

If you have to move to a new set up or to intercept a traveling turkey make sure to use the landscape and the features within it to stay well out of the gobblers view. If he sees or hears you the game is over. A good pair of binoculars is invaluable to keep taps on turkey movement or spot birds before they see you when moving about. Over the years I found that turkeys are a lot like deer in that they favour certain terrain features to travel about their territory. Figure out through scouting what travel corridors turkey’s use in your area and then adjust accordingly.

Bowhunting turkeys does not mean that you’re condemned to sit in a ground blind all day long. Like a gun hunter you should move to where the action is. Try some of the tips I gave you out this spring and then come back here and let me know how it worked out for you.

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