5 Mistakes Bowhunters Make When Turkey Hunting

By Brodie SwisherApril 27, 20221 Comment

Every spring, countless hunters head to the woods with a bow and quiver full of arrows in hand in hopes of notchin’ their turkey tag with archery gear. It’s an admirable means of taking your turkey in the springtime.

However, rarely will it come easy. In fact, taking a turkey with your bow can be one of the toughest bowhunts of the year. The opportunities are few and far between. Mix that with the fact that a gobbler’s vitals are incredibly small, and you’ll quickly realize that everything has to go just right for it all to come together when bowhunting for turkeys. 

The key, however, is to eliminate the mistakes that lead to missed opportunities. Below, you’ll find a list of 5 of the most common mistakes bowhunters make when turkey hunting. 

5 Mistakes Bowhunters Make When Turkey Hunting
What are the basic mistakes when hunting turkeys with a bow? Read on for a closer look.

1. You Show Up Late

Years ago, it was said that turkeys won’t pay any attention to a ground blind. Hunters would often stick the blind out in a field in the wide open and have turkeys walk within 5 steps of the blind. However, this all changes when they begin to associate a ground blind with human pressure. 

If you show up late, and they watch you climb in and out of the blind, they will soon begin to avoid your setup at all cost. If they watch you pop up the blind just across the field from their roost, you can bet the game will be over for the morning, and likely on future hunts as well.

2. You Set Your Decoys Too Far Out

Decoy placement can make or break your opportunity for success. Decoys set up 25 yards away from your blind can leave you with a long poke when the shot opportunity happens. You’re best off to keep your decoys close. 

How close?

Eight to ten yards from your blind is the perfect setup for ensuring the best shot opportunity. The gobbler will likely come right to your decoys to fight or breed. If so, you’ll have a nice, easy shot at 10 yards. If he hangs up a little further out, he’ll still be within 20 yards, a doable shot in most cases.

5 Mistakes Bowhunters Make When Turkey Hunting
Keep your decoys close to maximize your shot opportunities on turkeys.

3. You Got Busted Drawing Your Bow

One of the toughest aspects of bowhunting for turkeys is getting to full draw without getting busted. Sure, the ground blind is a quick fix here, but things can go wrong in a hurry, even in a ground blind, if you don’t draw your bow at the proper time.

When you have birds in tight to your setup, it’s easy to get picked off if you don’t time your draw at the opportune moment. The key is to blend into the dark shadows of the blind. Stay back away from the window as you draw your bow, or make any other movements. Wait until the bird is focused on your decoys, then make your move. 

If you’re bowhunting without the aid of a blind, the timing of your draw is much more critical. Make sure you have some larger trees out front, between you and the approaching bird, that’ll allow you some cover to draw from when he passes behind them.

Timing is everything when it comes to drawing your bow in the wide open. Decoys can obviously be your best friend here. Again, once a gobbler locks his focus on the decoy, you’ll be able to get away with far more movement than you ever thought possible.  

4. You Shot the Blind

One of the classic mistakes bowhunters make when turkey hunting with a bow is shooting the blind. Your pin was right on the bird, but you failed to notice that your arrow was lined up with the blind wall. You’ve got to keep in mind, your arrow sits roughly 3″ below the top pin on your bow sight. 

When you’re dialed in on a bird up close, it’s easy to make this mistake. I’ve done it several times over the years. I had a buddy shoot the blind twice on the same bird before finally realizing what was going on. He quickly loaded a third arrow and made it count.  

5 Mistakes Bowhunters Make When Turkey Hunting
Will your arrow clear the blind window? It's one of the most common mistakes made when hunting from the ground blind.

5. You Took a Long Shot

You say you can shoot a pie plate at 40 yards. Great! But that’s not good enough for executing a deadly shot on a turkey. We’re talking about vitals the size of your fist. A turkey’s heart is about the size of a golf ball.

A strutting turkey at 30-40 yards is an incredibly tough target. He may look huge, but it’s pretty much all feathers, with a small chunk of vitals tucked in between the wings butts. Unless you’re dialed in tight, you’ll cut feathers and nothing more. 

Commit to taking closer shots when it comes to turkey hunting with a bow, and you’ll watch your success rates soar.

Make a commitment to up your game this spring to tip the odds for success in your favor. If you’ll avoid the mistakes mentioned above, you’ll be on your way to bagging your bird with a bow this spring. 

What about you? What are the mistakes that have cost you a bird with a bow? 

Comment below and let us know. 

Brodie Swisher
Brodie Swisher is a world champion game caller, outdoor writer, seminar speaker and Editor for Bowhunting.com. Brodie and his family live in the Kentucky Lake area of west Tennessee.
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