Choose from these ten broadheads for assured results on spring gobblers
I’ve now killed 60 turkeys with bow and arrow, maybe 20 of those with traditional gear. About 50 birds ago I would’ve labeled that impossible, based strictly on the fact I was collecting – at best – only one out of three birds hit. Put another way, at that rate 60 birds would’ve amounted to something like 90 wasted birds. I say wasted because most of the birds that got away in the past were dead on their feet (or on the wing more correctly in a lot of instances), they just didn’t know it. Many slipped away to suffer long and agonizing deaths. You see, we were shooting turkey with big-game broadheads in those days (late 1970s through 1980s). Even a 12-ring pinwheel was no guarantee of a recovered bird. Arrows zipped right through, birds ran off, or took to wing, and were often never seen again – crawling into nasty brush or sailing off a high ridge.
We tried everything imaginable. We placed washers and small-game “stars” behind our broadheads to slow penetration and impart shock. We filed notches into solid-blade heads to catch on feathers and smack gobblers hard. We even stuck to only heads shots for a time (resulting in either a complete miss or DOA). Nothing worked very well. We lost a lot of gobblers. Enter the mechanical broadhead.
To be honest, when they were first introduced I laughed at them for big game, but instantly saw the potential for turkeys. The first I recall were called Vipers, 3- and 4-blade heads, standard-looking (if flimsy) replaceable blades hinged at the rear on a split ring, trailing edges notched to catch on hide or feathers, rears sharpened to cut after opening. When you hit a gobbler with one of those things (once a coyote) it was all dust and feathers. Most of the blades usually broke off. But the arrow typically stayed in the bird and we began to see 85 percent recovery rates. Then came Rocket Aeroheads (now just plain Rocket under the Trophy Ridge name). Nothing would ever be the same. That 85 percent recovery moved closer to 99 percent – even on marginally-hit birds; gut-, thigh- and breast-shot birds.
Make no mistake. To consistently kill turkeys with arrows, to turn a huge percentage of hits into dead birds, you must keep shots less than 30 yards, but mostly you must cut big holes. Forget shock, knocking them for a loop, and all that outdated bunk. Cut them. Period. This means something opening up to at least 1 ½ inches, 1 ¾ to 2 inches being even better for turning marginal hits into killing ones. If this wide-cutting diameter also happens to have an aggressive attack angle – essentially chopping instead of slicing – all the better. With those aspects in mind here’s my top-10 picks for turkey hunting.
10. Carbon Express
Carbon Express’ F-15 Expandable (MSRP $42/3) is wicked nasty. What it lacks in pure cutting diameter (1 3/8-inches total), it makes up for by adding an additional and complete set of blades, set side-to-side to open big wound channels. The F-15’s a 4-blade (six including the cross-cutting tip), but not in the conventional X crosscut manner. The .030-inch mechanical blades are set in tandem, with maybe a 1/8-inch gap between each blade set. This creates an “H-like” wound channel that creates plenty of blood-letting, and when encountering tough wing feathers impedes penetration to impart shock and leave arrows in bird. The ferrule/tip/mounting threads is milled from a single piece of stainless steel. Closed in flight they offer field-tip consistency, and also make a great traditional choice.
9. G5 Outdoors
G-5’s 100-grain T3 mechanical (MSRP $43/3) is probably too good for turkey hunting. Its milled cutting tip, part of the single-piece stainless-steel, MIM-molded tip/ferrule/threads, is tough as nails. The three blades include “ears” that run in slots, held in place by its Spider Clip Retention System, to create a rear-deploy design like no other, each of its three blades working independently. As each blade slides back they’re cammed open to their full 1 ½-inch cutting diameter. They’ll no doubt create two big holes on entrance and exit, but might penetrate a bit too good for turkeys – a funny accusation I know. This makes them perfect for low-energy rigs where a too-aggressive design could impede penetration all too well. All in all, I wouldn’t hesitate to use this on turkey even with my 70-pound compounds and 30-inch power stroke.
8. Trophy Taker
Trophy Taker’s Ulmer Edge (MSRP $50/3) include two super-sharp, rear-deploying blades that open as one on impact to create a devastating 2-inch cutting diameter to assure both entrance and exit wounds. The blade retention system assures blades won’t open prematurely, and they can be locked into practice mode via a set screw without damaging targets or blades, leaving them hunting sharp after shooting and removing the screw. The all-steel ferrule/chisel tips will last many seasons by adding replacement blades. The rear-deploying design and chisel tip makes them a good choice for low- or high-energy shooters alike.
The newest Swhacker model, the 100-grain 2-inch cut (MSRP $35/3), is a two-blade design that’s death on turkeys. Swhacker mechanical design is a bit different than most, including a set-back deployment spur (with singe-bevel cutting edges and 1-inch cutting diameter) delaying opening until the tip has penetrated maybe a half inch. The idea with this delayed deployment is it allows wide-sweeping, .032-inch blades to scissor open after breaching tough hide and ribs to keep them ultra-sharp while slicing vitals. With tough turkey feathers (especially wing feathers) deployment is actually accelerated, assuring devastating wound channels on any hit.
6. Flying Arrow Archery
Flying Arrow Archery’s Tom Bomb (MSRP $45/3) is one of a few heads designed to lop off gobbler heads while aiming for heads and necks. And while the concept is nothing new, the way the company went about it certainly is. The aggressive 125-grain, 3-blade head includes a 2 ½-inch cutting diameter to increase the chances of connection. But those blades are curved and scythe-like and led by a three-edged cutting tip for bone-busting performance. The replaceable, razor-sharp blades create more than six inches of cutting edges, most importantly the curved design aids fletching rotation and straight arrow flight instead of fighting it, assuring improved accuracy. They’re also tough enough to allow deadly body hits with high-energy bows.
5. Wasp Archery
I’ve tagged several turkeys with Wasp’s Jak-Hammer SST Select-A-Cut (MSRP $32/3). This 100-grain, 3-blade head includes a special collar allowing the shooter to choose either a 1 ½- (for low-energy women or youth bowhunters) or 1 ¾-inch cutting diameter. It has a sharp Stainless Smart Tip (SST) to split wing bones and big pinion feathers and super-sharp .036-inch blades to do some serious damage while passing through any part of the bird. The O-ring retention system assures instant opening outside the bird for big entrance and exit wounds. At its maximum 1 ¾-inch cutting diameter the blades chop as much as slice, slowing penetration considerably, and making it more likely arrows stay in birds.
4. Grim Reaper
I’ve shot a lot of turkeys (and a hard-won feral peacock; a very long story) with 3-blade Grim Reaper Razortips; from the standard 1 3/8-inch Razortip to the 2-inch-wide “Whitetail Special” (MSRP $40/3) and from traditional and compound bows. They certainly open up a can whup-ass. The step-up blades are super strong and super sharp. The spring-action retention system is fail-proof and quick to open, assuring both entrance and exit holes. The cutting RazorTip also makes a great option for low-energy shooters – like my wife, who has tagged five gobblers with her 50-pound compound and 25-inch draw length and 1 3/8-inch Grim Reapers without losing a single one.
There’s a single selling point to the Rage X-treme 2-blade (MSRP $50/3), particularly in direct regards to turkey hunting. They cut a big hole — like 2.3 inches big. That’s one of the widest cutting diameters in the mechanical world, but executes this stomp’em cutting edge via rear-deployment (and cutting tip) that doesn’t sacrificing too much forward momentum (some super-wide heads can actually lodge or wedge on tough wing feathers to stop penetration cold). Believe me, a gobbler with a 2.3-inch wide swatch sliced through his body (even if a touch off the 12-ring mark) is gonna die sooner than later. At least that’s been my experience so far. New Shock Collar design also assure no more premature blade deployment.
2. Trophy Ridge Rocket
Just as many of my bow turkeys have met there end on the business end of a Rocket 100-grain, 3-blade Hammerhead (MSRP $25/3) as NAP’s Gobbler Getter. The reason is pretty straight forward: They include an aggressive faceted tip and nasty 2-inch cutting diameter. The frontal blade spurs and rubber-band blade-retention design assure they’ll open instantly on impact, creating two big holes at each end of the wound channel. They include fairly aggressive blade-attack angles, so often leave arrows in the bird to slow progress after a hit. They’re also quite affordable.
1. New Archery Products
Before the introduction of many other mechanical broadhead designs New Archery Products’ 100-grain, 3-blade Gobbler Getter (MSRP $40/3) was my go-to spring turkey head; in fact, with them I’ve tagged all North American species of turkeys. They got the job done, even with their “conservative” 1 ½-inch cutting diameter – which was recently upgraded to 1 ¾ inches. What sets it apart (and makes it different from its original-Spitfire base) is a blunted tip (the design also includes blades that are canted open more than original Spitfires for easier and faster opening). The rounded/blunted tip smashes bone and slows penetration just enough to impart some shock and just enough to frequently leave the arrow in the bird after impact. NAP Diamize blades are known for their spooky sharpness, so do some serious damage during penetration.