Bowhunting Turkeys: 5 Tips to Help You Be More Successful

By Brodie SwisherMarch 25, 20192 Comments

Bowhunting turkeys is one of the most fun – and frustrating – springtime activities you can attempt to tackle each season. With an abundance of feathers, keen senses, and an incredibly cautious eye, turkeys prove to be one of the toughest targets for bowhunters across the country each spring. Punching a tag on a turkey is no easy task, but it can be done. Here’s a look at 5 tips to get you started bowhunting turkeys this season.

How to Scout Turkeys

Fortunately for turkey hunters, turkeys are very easy to pattern. They are creatures of habit, doing the same thing day after day until disturbed. So when your scouting efforts reveal turkey tracks, droppings, scratching in the leaves, strut marks in the sand or dirt, feathers, or obvious tell-tale turkey sign, you’ll know you’re in the right spot. But don’t miss out on the opportunity to put the trail camera to work as well. It’s likely one of the most underutilized scouting tools for the turkey. We live by trail cams during deer season. Why not use them for turkeys as well?


Don’t overlook trail cams for your turkey scouting efforts.

Ground Blinds for Turkey Hunting

Want to kill a turkey with a bow? Hunt from a blind! There’s no better way to to get the job done on a turkey with a bow than by hunting from a ground blind. It’ll blow your mind how how much movement you can get away with when hunting turkeys from the blind. Turkeys simply don’t pay attention to the ground blind. Even when it’s set up in the wide open. Better yet, you don’t have to pop the blind up days in advance or brush it in to beat the eyes of a turkey. Same-day sets are the norm for turkey hunting from a blind. There’s honestly no better way to consistently kill turkeys with a bow than using a ground blind.

Justin Zarr with an Illinois turkey shot from a ground blind.

While you can bowhunt turkeys without a ground blind, having a tool to hide your movements while coming to full draw can be a huge advantage.

Best Decoy Setup for Turkeys?

How far do you place your decoys when setting up for turkeys? The name of the game is to keep them close. And we’re not talking 20 yards, close. We’re talking less than 10 yards, close. The vitals on a turkey are very small, and they’re obviously well hidden amidst all the feathers. They can actually make for a tough target. That’s why it’s so important to pull turkeys in nice and tight to the blind for the shot. We like to have our turkey decoys just 8-10 yards away from the blind when bowhunting turkeys. That way, if they hang up, they’ll only be standing at 15-20 yards instead of 30-40 yards.


Keep your decoys close for the best shot opportunities with a bow. In most cases, a half-strut jake and a lone hen provide all the attraction you’ll need.

What’s the Best Turkey Calling Tactic?

People are always asking, “What’s the best turkey calling tip or tactic out there?” And the reality is, some of the best turkey calling advice would be to simply keep your mouth shut. That’s right! We love to call. We love to make turkeys gobble. But the fact is, too much calling often does more harm than good. Despite having a brain the size of a pea, turkeys quickly wise up to our calling efforts and will shy away from loud, obnoxious over-calling. Learn to tone your calling down. Keep it soft and subtle. Let your decoys do the work and you’ll likely have more turkey encounters in bow range.

bowhunting turkeys - hs-turkey-call-dead-bird

Knowing when to call and when to keep your mouth shut can be a game changer in your turkey hunting success.

Shot Placement for Turkeys

Hit a turkey right and he’ll never leave the decoys. Hit him bad and you’ll think he’s the toughest creature on earth. As previously mentioned, the vitals on a turkey are incredibly small. We’re talking about a target the size of a softball. There’s not much room for error. That’s why shot placement when bowhunting turkeys is of the utmost importance. Shot placement will make or break you when it comes to bowhunting turkeys. You must learn when and where to shoot when the opportunity arises. The saying goes, “Hit ’em low, watch ’em go…hit ’em high, watch ’em die.”

Hitting a turkey low, or forward across the breast, seems to be two of the most common shooting mistakes when it comes to shot placement for turkeys. Study these birds and their anatomy until you’re solid on where to make the shot. And when all else fails, shoot them in the head. The head shot on turkeys is the quickest and cleanest shot you can possibly make. They’ll either drop dead in their tracks, or run off following a clean miss.

bowhunting turkeys shot placement

Aim for the football-shaped feather pattern on a turkey’s side for a quick and deadly kill.

The tips mentioned above will get you well on your way when it comes to greater success when bowhunting turkeys. Find the birds, get them close and execute a well-placed shot. It’ll be the most fun you’ll have all spring, guaranteed.

Be sure to share this video and article with a friend that is bowhunting turkeys this spring. Also, don’t forget to send in your photos when you find success while bowhunting turkeys this season.

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