Far too many turkeys are shot with archery equipment and wounded or never recovered each spring. As hunters, we owe it to the animals we pursue to know our prey and the best practices for a clean and humane kill. And we owe it to ourselves. We spend too much time at the range honing our accuracy, in the field scouting, with our noses in books and magazines studying turkey behavior to let a poorly placed shot be the culprit of a failed hunt.
Here are some tips on where to shoot a turkey to ensure a proper kill.
Standing Upright, Facing Away
A shot that will break the bird’s backbone a high percentage shot. A spine shot will immediately immobilize the bird and it will die quickly. But, this shot opportunity is also highly situational. To get a chance at a spine shot, you have to wait until the bird is standing erect, with its back toward you. If the bird is feeding or walking with its head down, the spine is moving and makes for a poor target for an archer. Sometimes you can sweet talk a gobbler into lifting his head with a few sharp, but quiet, putts or clucks with your call.
Just about any area you hit when faced with this shot will do damage, whether you hit the spine or you miss a little low and hit the vitals. Just be sure you are using a wide-cutting mechanical broadhead like the Jak-Knife or Jak-Hammer.
Maybe you have heard the saying, “Hit him high and watch him die, hit him low and watch him fly.” Turkey vitals are farther back and higher on a turkey than most people realize. The best place to aim on a broadside bird is where the butt of the wing connects to the turkey’s body. This almost guarantees an ethical kill. Your Wasp broadhead will likely break both wings and pierce the heart and/or lungs while it sticks the bird or passes through.
Standing Upright, Facing Towards
If you want to shoot a turkey when the he’s facing you (which can be tough because they are looking in your direction), aim 4-inches below the base of his neck. If you can hit this area with precision, your arrow will break his back and also should hit a portion of his vitals. A turkey’s vitals region is about the size of a softball, so you want to make sure you are shooting tight arrow groups before hitting the field.
Strutting, Facing away
The old “Texas heart shot” is a great opportunity if the turkey is walking away in full strut. Draw back your bow (his fan will block his ability to see you) and aim for the vent (base of the tail/anus). This is when a great penetrating broadhead is needed, and a solid fixed-blade like the Wasp Drone fits the bill. To set up this shot, place a jake decoy 15-20 yards directly in front of you. Make sure it is facing you because most of the time, a turkey will approach a decoy head on. Add a hen or two to increase the realism and really anger the longbeard you are after.
Strutting, Facing Towards You
This is the reverse of the shot situation above. Aim slightly below the spot his beard grows out from his feathers and the shot should result in a broken back and damage to the vitals. Again, decoys are great to help set up these high-percentage shots where you have a reference point to aim at and are almost guaranteed to hit the vitals with your broadhead. A large-cutting diameter mechanical broadhead is a good choice for situations like these.
Strutting, Broadside Turkey
This is the shot opportunity bow hunters are most confronted with, and maybe why that’s why stories of unrecovered birds are often heard. The gobbler’s feathers are bristled, making it hard to determine the location of his vitals. I think it’s best to wait for him to come out of his strut or turn before letting an arrow fly.
Now, throw some practice blades on your Wasp broadheads, dial your sights in at the range and get a lifelike 3D turkey target to practice these shots. You will be glad you did come opening day!
View All Posts