Successfully bagging a turkey with a bow is no small feat. A turkey’s eyesight is its greatest asset, detecting the slightest of movements; something bowhunters are guilty of far more than gun hunters, simply due the nature of bowhunting. It’s for this reason that many who chase gobblers with a bow often opt to hunt out of blinds. However, blind hunting hampers the ability to be mobile and adapt when turkeys don’t act the way you expect them to. Here are five tips to help you increase your odds of success when being stationary isn’t an option.
1. Drop Your Draw Weight Turkeys might be classified as big game in some states, but it does not take big-game draw weights of 70-80 pounds to take them down. Drop the draw weight to the lower end of what your particular model allows to enable a cleaner and more fluid draw. The less motion in your form, the better. Once you have made your adjustment, make sure to reset your pins to account for the decreased arrow speeds.
2. Practice Shooting From a Variety of Positions Ditching the blind means you will be sitting at the base of a tree, or kneeling behind brush, instead of enjoying the comfort of a camp chair. So practicing slinging arrows from any position you can envision yourself being in to make sure that you can make the shot when it counts. It also will help you become more familiar with the clearance you‘ll need to keep your limbs and cams out of the dirt to ensure you do not harm your bow in the process.
3. Use the Woods to Blend In Camo can only do so much to keep you concealed, so arranging downed tree branches or pine boughs in front of you can help break up your form and give you a little more confidence when ol’ tom comes strutting in. Best practices still recommends backing up to a tree wider than your shoulders, mostly for protection from hunters who may approach your setup from behind, but this tactic will also keep you from silhouetting yourself.
4. Use a Decoy To bag a gobbler without a blind, it is best to have the turkey’s attention focused on something other than searching for the source of those turkey sounds he has come in to. Throw out a single hen or jake decoy and he will be too busy strutting his stuff or flogging your decoy to see you drawing down on him.
5. Shoot for Single Strutters or Small Flocks The more eyes that are on you, the more careful you’ll have to be to keep from getting busted by a turkey. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to pass up an encounter if a large flock happens your way, I’m saying you should make the most of opportunities if you strike up a lone gobbler or pass a small flock of turkeys in a field. The fewer birds you have to stay hidden from, the more your odds increase.
Even with these tips, your best-laid plans will seem futile at times—that’s the nature of turkey hunting. Nevertheless, once you take a mature tom with your bow without the aid of a blind, you’ll relish in the incredible feat you’ve accomplished.