Monday, June 28, 2010

Turkey Hunting, Archery Style

Hunting turkey with a bow is the art of harvesting a wild
turkey with the skills learned and practiced in the use of
archery. Bow hunting turkey takes patience, skill and
unique techniques. Turkey's are highly intelligent and are
very challenging to hunt. With remarkably keen eyesight and
hearing, wild turkeys are one of the most difficult upland
game birds to hunt, especially with a bow.

There are special skills needed to be successful, of these
the most important is stealth. The ability to be within 30
yards of a very alert, wild animal with a 270 degree, razor
sharp, field of view, excellent hearing, the ability to hit
ground speeds up to 20 mph and burst into flight at speeds
up to 55 mph, all while trying to gain a shooting position
with a clear line of sight to a target approximately the
size of a silver dollar. Sound like fun? Well, it's much
more than fun. The sense of accomplishment is remarkable.
To successfully hunt any animal with a bow is challenging;
a wild turkey with a bow is a special accomplishment unique
to itself.

The best way to start is from a ground blind. Natural cover
or portable, ground blinds are a great way to get the
Birdseye view. I have had turkeys literally stick their
head into my blind and come with a few feet of my face, yet
another one of those special moments with nature. Natural
cover is good if you can pattern a "rafter" of turkeys and
predict their movements. Portable blinds are useful
because, you guessed it, they're portable. They are
relatively lightweight at 15 - 20lbs. and set up in
seconds, portable blinds are an obvious choice if you want
to stalk and set up quickly. Blinds with a Black liner are
best, if you dress in Black, at least from the waist up.
Once inside the blind you can take a position on one knee
and virtually disappear into the background of the blind.
Magnetic window flaps are essential for quick and quite
shooting set-ups. Some blinds have "shoot through" window
netting. Although useful for deer hunting, it is not
necessary for turkey. Turkey's do not seem bothered by the
black void that appears, without the netting in place. The
best chance of success will require quick, quiet set-ups
and the ability to stay calm and "work" efficiently and
accurately under pressure.

Using decoys are a great way to help challenge that big
gobbler to cross the field. The use of a high quality
"Strutting Tom" decoy can drive dominate Tom's crazy. It is
widely believed that Turkey's can see in color, the more
realistic your decoy the more attention it will attract.
Using a hen decoy in the spring can attract the affections
of a Tom or entice that alpha hen to stick around awhile.
There are several types of decoys for different situations.
The thing to keep in mind is to keep it simple, quiet and
natural. The more at ease the birds feel, the better chance
for a quality shot.

When the time comes for all your "hard work" and patience
to payoff, don't blow it with an errant shot. You will hear
"this shot placement is the best" or "bow hunters prefer
this type of shot", at the end of the day I prefer the
best, most ethical, shot the turkey presents. Practice as
many different, realistic shooting scenarios as possible.
If you plan to hunt from a blind, shoot from different
positions within the blind. Check back clearance to account
for your draw length. Turkey's can quickly come from any
direction, you need to be able to maneuver inside the
blind. Likewise, if hunting from a tree stand, practice
from an elevated position. Take note of the angle of entry,
arrow placement will need to be adjusted accordingly. Bow
hunting turkey is a very challenging and equally rewarding
adventure. Frustrating at times, sometimes mundane and
occasionally exhilarating. Watching a springtime Tom strut
for you in front of your well place decoy, presenting you a
great shooting opportunity, is something every bow hunter
deserves to witness.

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