When using a bow to hunt turkeys, many different shots and angles will present themselves. To make a clean ethical kill a hunter must know where to aim on the turkey at any given moment. While a turkey looks to be a decent sized target to hit, it isn’t. The vitals are extremely small, near the size of a softball. Then on top of that you add the plumage of the bird and what looks to be a big sizeable target is actually less. The goal of any shot is to disrupt a combination of a turkey’s circulatory, neurological, muscular or skeletal systems.
Below are several different shots and angles that turkeys will give a hunter at any given time along with suggestions of where to put your shot. Take some time to study the illustration and the benefits of each shot.
If perfected this is an extremely lethal shot, but the margin of error is very small. If you opt for a head shot you must use a specific broadhead, such as the Gobbler Guillotine. This broadhead has long blades that extend from the ferrule designed specifically for shooting at a turkey’s head. On the head shot with this style of broadhead, aim for the middle of the neck half way up. The results of a well-placed head shot are obvious and an immediate recovery is instant.
The walking away shot is a great shot opportunity to look for. If performed correctly it will immediately immobilize the bird as you hit the spine, wing bone, and lungs. When a bird is walking away from you make sure the head is in an upright position before you shoot. Aim for the center of the back where the wing butts connect to the body. Never take this shot if the bird’s head is down in a feeding position. The spine is more angled in this position leaving more room for a miss of all vitals.
Deer hunters were taught never to take the “Texas Heart Shot”, but turkey hunters should fire away. Not only is the bird giving you a bullseye to aim for, but a properly placed shot to the rectum of a turkey will hit the liver, heart, and lungs while possibly breaking leg and wing bones.
This is the most desired shot of all bowhunters, and the one you should look for if at all possible. Aim for where the wing butt connects to the body. A good tip to follow is to follow the legs up to where the wing connects to the body. This will ensure you are in the vital area of a turkey while breaking wing bones. A perfect broadside shot will bust the wing bone as well as the spine and hit the lung area.
Broadside Shot/Full Strut
Much like the broadside shot, you should aim for where the wing butt connects to the body. When in strut though it may be difficult to tell where the wing is connecting. Again you should follow the legs up in straight line to where the wing is connecting to the body. It may appear that the shot is too far back and low, but the turkey has his feathers all puffed up making him appear bigger than he is. If you can, it is always better to wait until a gobbler comes out of strut, but we are not always dealt the perfect hand and must take the shot. This shot may break the wing bone, spine, legs bones, and enter the lung area.
Facing Towards/Full Strut
Aim for the center of the crease in the breast slightly above where the beard connects to the body. This shot will hit the spine as well as puncture the heart and lung areas.
Facing Towards/Non Strut
Similar to the full strut facing towards shot a hunter should aim slightly above where the beard connects to the breast of the turkey. This shot will hit the spine, lung, and heart areas.
Slightly Quartering Too/Quartering Away Broadside
If the quartering angle is too much do not take the shot. 9 times out of 10 the turkey will present a better shot so hold out for a better broadside angle. If the angle is slight then go ahead and aim for were the wing butt connects to the body. This shot will severe the spine and wing bones and hit the lung and heart areas.
AFTER THE SHOT
After you take the shot DO NOT RUN after the bird. Much like deer hunting give the bird time to expire. If you chase after the bird most of the time it results in the bird running, faster than you can, or even worse flying away if it can. Be patient and give the bird 30-60 minutes before you begin to pursue it.
A wounded turkey will look for cover the first chance it gets. When you are tracking your bird make sure you scan every inch of your surroundings. Turkeys blend in well so be diligent in your tracking process. Another important tip to note is to always have your bow with you, as a follow up shot may be necessary.