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Jim Miller has taken over 60 Gobblers with a bow and arrow and was the third person to have taken the Grand Slam with a bow the Rio Grande, Eastern, Merriams and Osceola plus the Goulds in Mexico only needing the Ocellated in the Yucatan to complete all of the Turkeys with a bow.
The Holiday Seasons is over, Whitetail hunting has ended and you’re sitting around thinking what can I do now? Well get up and start getting ready for the Spring Turkey Season. It will be a Gobbler Season somewhere in the U.S. For Example: Florida usually opens around the 15thof March and so will Alabama, and then the flood gates open in April. Late February and Early March in the warmer States the Gobblers area already breeding and you should be thinking about having your equipment ready to go. I know most of you will be using your hunting bow for Spring Gobblers and I agree with you. Unless you’re going to go out in the fields or woods and hunt outside a ground blind and then you will need a bow that is set about 40 or 50 lbs peak weight and that is another story, which I will address further in the article.
First let’s address the most important part of archery equipment in Hunting Gobblers. Broadheads is most likely the most important part of hunting and killing Gobblers. Gobblers have a small kill zone, about the size of a Softball! And you have to hit that spot to consistently kill Gobblers. My favorite broadhead is the Grim Reaper, Mathews Edition 100 grain, 3 blades; 2 inch cut Mechanical which gives you a large cutting diameter.
Prime example, I was hunting the last few days of the 2011 Turkey Season in Texas and the hunting was very difficult I was calling by my watch once every 15 minutes and using low volume calls and at 11:00 AM I heard a Gobbler, Gobble and only one time. We were set up in our Mathews Edition blind by Gorilla Gear, I spotted the old wary Gobbler sneaking in and he was very wary. The Gobbler would walk a few steps and then stop and look around for the hen, finally he saw the hen decoy and came in cautiously.
At 25 yards the Gobbler was broadside to me and I put my first pin on the thigh section, this is the best spot of killing a Gobbler, you breakdown the thigh and the Gobbler can not get airborne most of the time and you get lots of blood! I hammered the Gobbler and knocked him off of his feet and as he flopped around and before I could get out of the Blind he got airborne and was flying away from me about 6 to 8 feet off of the ground and then up and over a Cedar Tree that was about 15 feet off of the ground.
The last time I saw that Gobbler he was setting his wings. I finally got out of the blind and with Cameraman in tow we got to where the Gobbler was standing and there was blood everywhere and my arrow was lying on the ground drenched with blood. I actually followed that bird in flight just like you would a lung shot Whitetail. Her sailed about 100 yards, crashed and burned.
Dead on the ground he was a real trophy over 20 lbs, 1 ¼ inch spurs and 10 inch beard, a great Rio Grande turkey from the Hill Country of Texas. I believe that you have to use large cutting diameter blades and mechanicals to kill Gobblers consistently.
I know a lot of turkey are taken each and every year with fixed and smaller diameter heads but the key word is ‘consistently’. I also know there are other broadheads that are very good at putting down turkey; The Xchange Thumper is a reversed fixed blade head, the Spitfire Gobbler Getter and the Trophy Ridge Buckblaster all do an excellent job.
Secondly, Bows can be a big discussion of what is right and what is wrong? I suggest that you use the same Bow that you hunt Big Game with for you are very familiar with the bow and you know what and where it’s going to hit and you feel very comfortable with the set up. I know Matt at Mathews would love to see everyone buy a second or third bow for specialized hunting but your present hunting bow you use for Big game will do nicely However, if your going to hunt Running and Bow outside the blind then you will need a bow set @ 40 to 50 lbs and therefore you can sit on your butt or your low profile chair and draw your bow with minimum of movement and slam that Gobbler. Remember that no animal in the world has better eyes than a Gobbler for something is trying to kill and eat him everyday of his life and they are very wary of their environment and movement. So you have to be very smooth and quite to kill a Gobbler outside of a Ground blind in the open timber, fields or brush.
BLINDS: This is one of those items that will boggle your mind? My favorite two blinds
(1) XXXL Ground Blind: This is a semi permanent blind that takes about 30 minutes to set up and 15 to take down. The blind is 6.5 feet in the Center and 5 feet wide and 5 feet deep. It has enough room for hunter, cameraman, and guide if you need one plus all of your gear and chairs. If you doubt me try it sometime, it is the way to go if your needing plenty of room and you hunt all day at a food plot, feeder, or in a strutting area.
(2) MATHEWS EDITION BLINDS BY GORILLA GEAR: This is my favorite blind to use for picking up and moving quickly to a Gobbling Gobbler, this blind is 60 inches high and 54 inches by 54 inches in the flooring. This blind also has 18 shooting windows, weights less that 20 lbs, has 3-D Leafy exterior for complete concealment. This is a great blind for two people to hunt and film out of and I have killed many Gobblers out of this blind.
(3) When sitting in a blind you must be comfortable and the most comfortable chair on the market is the SITTING HAWK CHAIR, this Chair will not kill you in the waist line if you have that “Dunlop” going for you or if you need to be comfortable for hours on end, check it out you will not be disappointed.
CLOTHING: When you are hunting out of a blind and you need to have a black background and a camo when on the move from one point to another there is only one Company GAMEHIDE in LOST CAMO! Especially the following pieces
(1) For cool weather make sure you have the BLACK MAX HOODIE, this is perfect as it is LOST CAMO on the outside and reversible Black for inside the blind
(2) For Warm weather make sure you have the BLACK MAX SHIRT LONG SLEEVE, this is a great piece of clothing for warm weather LOST CAMO on the outside when hunting outside of the blind and reversible for black while in the blind
(3) For pants does not matter concerning the temps. make sure you have a pair of the comfortable No Recoil Pants in LOST CAMO. These pants have zipper down sides for easy on / off boots and a expandable built in belt, and 8 pockets
(4) Plus a BLACK MAX REVERSIBLE FACE MASK, quite comfortable when worn inside a blind Black/ Lost Camo
(5) Don’t forget GAMEHIDE also has a new suite of clothing that is TICK PROOF, check it out on their website www.gamehide.com
(6) Also don’t forget Foot Wear and you really need to look at the Russell Snake Boots when hunting Gobblers, for real piece of mind.
GAME CALLS: This is a very personal item whether, friction / Diaphragm or Box calls here is my choice
BOX: (1) Kelly Cooper / Mathews Edition 7.0 / h has a Birch side and an American walnut Paddle is a great call giving me that little higher pitch and something different after using my regular Box call.
(2) Strutn-N-Rut / Strutn-N-1, has been with me for 20 plus years and is one of my favorite, it is a Cedar side with a Black Walnut Paddle and Oh! Can it call Gobblers
(3) Knight & Hale / Hammerhead; this box will talk to you. With a Poplar side and Cherry Wood paddle, deadly
SLATE: (1) Strut-N-Rut / Glass-N-Slate Combo, this call has also been with me for over 20 years and it will call Gobblers, deadly, and an old friend when I need to change to that different call.
(2) Kelly Cooper / Mathews Edition / This slate is deadly for making the perfect Gobbler Cluck, or the very hoarse, raspy yelp.
(3) Primos AlumiSlate Striker, is that one friction call in keep in reserve when I have been calling for hours from one location and I then switch to the AlumiSlate and it will call Gobblers, thinking that it’s another hen that has moved in the area.
(4) Illusion: this Glass Call is deadly on those wet and high humidity days in the field, the glass will give me perfect purrs, clucks and sweet little yelps.
STRIKERS: I carry about four different strikers, Heartwood, Carbon, Soft Maple, and plastic each Striker will give you a different sound and could be the one that Gobblers really love.
(1) Kelly Cooper / Mathews Elite Series, in the V-Cut 2-reed / V-Cut 3-reed and the Cutter V in 3 reed all in Proph, these are deadly mouth calls and do make those sweet calls you need
LOCATORS: Primos, 3 in 1 Peacock, Coyote, and Woodpecker, and the Gobbler Shaker Tube / Kelly Cooper Crow and Barred Owl calls do serve me well to get an old Gobbler to give you his location
The one piece of information I will give Turkey hunters try not to overcall. I use my watch to call by and on the 5’s I use small calls, purrs, putts, and very soft yelps of only two or three calls, then on the 15’s I use a loud call to see if I have a Gobbler in the area that is interested and will answer. It usually works.
DECOYS: I have used every type of decoy from a mounted hen turkey taken in the fall, to Primos, Flambeau, Fusion, Montana Decoys and they all work. My favorite is the Flambeau Flocked King Strut and Shady lady turkey decoys and if I’m in rough country and weight is a problem I will use the Montana Decoys for they are light and carry easily.
This is one of those situations where you can talk to a hundred Turkey hunters and half will cuss the Decoy and the other half will praise the decoy. I have had great luck and had terrible luck in fact I have had Gobblers to see a decoy from 100 yards away and take off running the other way and then I have had Gobblers to walk out and see the decoy and here they come and don’t get in their way for they will run over you.
My favorite story (see my website www.greatsouthwestoutdoors.com , Hunting Compadres, was hunting with Dennis Bedore in Kansas and we had three old long beards to come into my decoy and Dennis shot his first arrow thru the tail feathers of one that took off like a bolt. I worked a ‘cutt’ and he came back to the hen decoy and Dennis killed him. I picked up my bow and hammered another one! So you never know how Gobblers are going to respond to a Decoy but I still set them up and use them every time I set up to call. Also be sure to check your State Rules and Regulations as some states do not allow Decoys. But where they are legal don’t leave home without three or four.
BROADHEADS: My favorite broadhead is the Grim Reapers, Mathews Edition in the 100 Grain, 3-Blade, and 2 inch cut, Mechanical These will hammer a Gobbler. Some other great heads are the old Rocket BuckBlasters, which is 3 fixed blades and 3 – 2 inch Mechanicals, / The NAP Gobbler Getter is also an excellent head.
GAME SCOUT CAMERAS: The final word, is don’t forget your Game Scout Cameras, my preference is the Spy Point Game Scout Cameras, excellent to do your scouting along fields, food plots, struttin areas and around feeders were legal. These are amazing tools for the hunter! The Spy Points will scout for you all day long and give you the best times for movement.
OPTICS: IS A MUST! I do not leave home without my optics I now use the Brunton Eterna’s a Mid Size Binocular in the 8 X 32’s and they are very light and have huge light gathering capabilities These are my favorite Glass for Bowhunting and priced right.
So be sure to get out into the woods, fields, or brush and hunt Gobblers this spring. It’s a great time to be hunting.
Mr. Miller, I have a brand new STRUTN-N-1 call that I am trying to find out some information about. It appears that the paddle can be reversed also. I bought this call about 12 years ago and am now selling off part of my collection due to my advance age. Any information you can give me on this call would be appreciated.