John's Journal...

Get Your Gobbler with a Bow with Phillip Vanderpool

Hiding and Shooting

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Phillip Vanderpool has been hunting turkeys with a bow for the last 15 years. So far in the 2009 season he’s taken one gobbler with his bow and took four gobblers with his bow during the 2008 season. This week he’ll tell us his secrets for taking turkeys with a bow. Click to enlarge

The fifth most-important element of bowhunting for turkeys is you need to be invisible to the turkey, and he shouldn’t see any part of you. Therefore, you must have a good set of camouflage clothing as well as headnet and gloves. But just as importantly, wear camouflaged clothing that is extremely quiet. I wear Realtree AP camouflage made by Medalist, because then I have the camo pattern of Realtree AP that fits in any terrain, and I have the quiet material that Medalist produces. When you draw your bow to get ready for the shot, you don’t want to sound like a freight train running down the tracks. You want to make your draw as quietly and as inconspicuously as possible. That’s the reason quiet camouflage clothing is critical to success when you have gobblers in close.

Shot placement is very important on a turkey. I really believe that the best shot to put a target down quickly and effectively is a shot placed through the thighs of a turkey. When I’m aiming, I put my point of aim on the turkey’s leg and then move my pinsight to the turkey’s thighs. One of the biggest problems that most hunters make when they try and bowhunt turkeys is they try and shoot too far forward, making the shot go through the breast insClick to enlargetead of going through the vitals. The main artery on the turkey will be right at the top of the thighs. If you get the arrow through both thighs, then even if you miss that vital artery, the turkey can’t move his legs to run, get off the ground and fly away. This way you won’t lose the turkey if you shoot for the thighs. Click to enlarge

The next best shot for when a turkey that’s facing away from you with his fan spread is to shoot right for the base of the tail. When the turkey is facing away from you in full strut, he can’t see you when you draw. If you aim for the spot where all the tail feathers come together, your arrow should penetrate all the way through the tom and bring him down quickly.

Now if the gobbler is facing you, and his attention is locked on the decoy, you can shoot for the base of the neck, a very-good and deadly shot. In that situation, I try and aim between the turkey’s neck and the turkey’s beard. If the turkey is quartering away from you, aim between the thighs. Then the arrow will pass all the way through the gobbler.

To learn more about Realtree AP camouflage, go to

For more information on Medalist clothing, visit

Tomorrow: Broadheads and Recovering the Bird

Check back each day this week for more about "Get Your Gobbler with a Bow with Phillip Vanderpool"

Day 1: Why I Bowhunt Turkeys
Day 2: Blinds and Calls
Day 3: Hiding and Shooting
Day 4: Broadheads and Recovering the Bird
Day 5: When to Draw and Why to Practice


Entry 506, Day 3