Patience and Pop-up blinds are two key factors in taking a spring tom with a bow. Years ago, a Mississippi wild turkey guide made me sit by a powerline near a posted decoy. We had tried unsuccessfully to get close to a roost, so I bit my lip, listened to wild turkeys gobble in the distance and by 10:00 am, a Southern longbeard was flopping on the ground. Waiting was torture, but it showed me the secret to setting an ideal trap.
Pop-Up Blinds are Critical-
Whitetail deer will spot a blind in a field in an instant unless it’s disguised with brush and leaves and even then they will be wary. Wildurkeys are dumb as stones about blinds so you can place one in an open field the day before the season and have success. As in the picture above, I post mine near the treeline at least two weeks prior to the opening day so that deer get used to it. A snorting deer will scare a turkey and they often live in the same habitat.
Scout for Turkeys like Deer
Posting your blind in a turkey travel area greatly increases success. An old friend lets me hunt a field on her small farm. Although other people hunt the property, my blind sets a marker of sorts and they don’t interfere. Turkeys often travel across this field between woodlots and when they see my decoys and hear my calling they walk into range. My camera is already posted and lets me know the age class of birds using the field.
Decoys Usually Attract Toms
I’ll discuss the hows and whys of deploying decoys in the next blog, but for now, it’s important to realize how advantageous a decoy can be. First, they attract hens and gobblers to the exact spot you want to shoot. Blinds are usually spacious such that you can sit in a comfortable chair with your crossbow on a tripod that will allow you to shoot exactly where you aim. I take all of my gear to the blind the day before the hunt so that I can sneak into the area quietly in one trip. I store the decoys in the blind and quickly set them up at first light.
Call as Much or as Little as You Choose
If you are new to wild turkey hunting, you may be unsure of your calling skills. By being patient and using decoys, you can call as much or as little as you want. Sometimes, hunters can call too much and your goal should be just to lure a gobbler within sight of your decoys. I’m an experienced caller with a box, slate, and diaphragm, yet for the past two years, I’ve had the farm’s boss gobbler within 20 yards of my blind. Despite my best efforts, he’s too wary to step into the field and I hope to get a shot at him again this spring. Box callers are ideal for new hunters and can be mastered with just a little practice.
Big Target, But Mostly Feathers
This image shows just how small the actual body of a wild turkey really is. They look huge, especially when in full strut, yet an arrow through the breast or feathers of a turkey will not kill it and, unlike a deer, they may fly away with little chance of recovery. The next image will show the four kill zones on a gobbler, yet I like to shoot at the base of the neck which kills the turkey on the spot or misses it entirely. Having the ability to sit in a chair and shoot at an undisturbed turkey through a small window can give you the precise aiming opportunity you need.
Aim Small, Miss Small
The upper left shot may be the easiest to make because the feathers are collapsed and you will hit the spine and the vitals. If a gobbler sees you or gets spooky, they often turn their back on the blind and offer this shot. The rear angle, has a built-in aiming spot, while the base of the wing butt is the aiming point on a broadside bird. In addition to having a small kill zone, wild turkeys will turn their feathers so that they don’t correspond with their body. Patience, patience, patience.
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