As you guys know from our last blog post, we are crazy excited for turkey season. It’s a little over a month away and we are already making good use of our dummies and scouring the internet for new amazing calls. In all this anticipation though, we realized this was also a perfect teaching opportunity for our resident hunting novice, who has never hunted a turkey. We went over different arrows with her (as you all read in last month’s newsletter), helped her pick out a brand new bow (she chose the Bowtech Carbon Rose), but then we realized we missed a very important lesson: where to aim on a turkey, and more importantly, why.
While there are several ways you can hit a turkey, you want to make sure that your shot will incapacitate your bird; poor shots result in a wounded bird escaping and increase the risk that you lose the animal altogether and the animal then dies elsewhere. That is a no win all around, and we felt the best way to avoid that is to discuss the different areas where you can aim that generally lead to a solid kill shot. It should also be mentioned that the type of broadhead you use will also come into play when deciding where to place your arrow. Turkey anatomy is a bit different than most people realize. First, you have to take into consideration that a good portion of the bird is feathers and the body itself is relatively small in comparison to the bird’s overall size. Because of this, the internal organs also sit more towards the bird’s rear and higher than most people would initially guess; making hitting certain spots even more important.
One of our favorite, and generally the easiest, ways to make sure you hit a good mark is to hit the turkey in between struts while he is facing away from you. This shot is in most cases fool proof. As long as your aim holds, you will more than likely either snap the turkey’s back (thus preventing flight) or hit a vital organ or two. This position works well for any type of broadhead, but this is also where a mechanical broadhead will definitely shine. Unfortunately, while this is a perfect position for novice hunters, turkeys are rarely compliant and you will more often than not see them strutting. While you can still hit organs when they are in a strut, the feathers make sighting in the right spots much harder. In this instance, it is better to attempt a heart shot by aiming for the turkey’s vent.
While we love us some good back shots, we have found turkeys also love to have a good stare down. If you decide that the staring contest has gone on long enough and you want to be declared a winner and have dinner, aim just below where his beard begins. The goal here is to snap the turkey’s neck or hit some major arteries or vitals. Most mechanical broadheads do a great job in this instance since they have a large cutting diameter when deployed. Fixed broadheads are also a solid broadhead here because they tend to have really great penetrating power which you will need for this shot to be a success. This shot can be a bit tricky though, so practice is definitely your friend here.
Luckily, in this instance the shot placement is basically the same whether the turkey is strutting or not, but it should also be noted that more often than not this shot will also cut off part of the turkey’s beard, preventing it from becoming a nice trophy. Just keep in mind that the turkey itself is much smaller underneath those feathers and therefore you need to make sure you have a good, tight grouping. The other thing to keep in mind here is that the turkey’s organs are located near the back of the bird, so you need to make sure your shot has good penetrating power. Some people also use this position as an opportunity to use guillotine type arrowheads, however we prefer to go the more traditional route sans decapitation.
Obviously, there are other positions the turkey may be in (like strutting around broadside), but we’ve found that if we wait it out until the turkey settles into one of the positions we mentioned before, we have a much better kill rate and run less risk of the bird running or taking flight. Turkeys can also be tricky in the sense that sometimes even if you do get a lung shot or hit organs, they will still either take flight or flee and the blood trail left behind is very hard to follow. Spine shots are one way to guarantee this won’t happen, though you need lots of good practice in to make sure your aim is solid as the spine while long, is narrow giving you little room for error. Another way to ensure you don’t lose your bird is by using your Pro-Tracker. Our transmitter will hook into the bird the same way it would in an animal hide and prevent losing your prize.