John's Journal...

How to Miss a Turkey

Day 5: Arrowing A Gobbler Turkey

Editor’s Note: You know two things about anyone who says he’s never missed a turkey - either he lies about everything, or he’s never hunted many turkeys. We all miss, and that’s one of the reasons I enjoy the “Truth” videos that Will Primos of Primos Calls does, because he also shows all the misses in these videos. A fact of life is that if you hunt turkeys long enough, you’ll miss your share of them.

Click for Larger ViewSometimes, bowhunters have been criticized for attempting to bag turkeys with their bows. A bow doesn’t have the knockdown power of a shotgun. Also, the bowhunter is shooting to penetrate the turkey’s body cavity and cause enough damage to the internal organs to stop the bird. Click for Larger ViewHowever, these organs are small, and a turkey doesn’t bleed like a deer or other big game animal. The result, sometimes, is a lost bird. Therefore, if you’re going to hunt turkey with a bow, a string tracker is an absolute must. Also, the arrow should have a device to keep the broadhead in the gobbler and inflict more damage. It’s also best to wait for at least 20 minutes after you’ve arrowed a gobbler. Allow the turkey to succumb to the deadly effects of the arrow before you pursue it. Your chances of recovering the tom will be much greater.

My friend Phillip Vanderpool of Harrison, Arkansas, an avid bowhunter who has taken more than 50 turkeys with a bow, shares these tips for not missing toms with your bow.

* ”Set-out a turkey decoy.

*”Use a blind to allow you to draw the bow and prepare for the shot without the gobbler spotting you.

Click for Larger View*”Consider shooting a lighter-weight bow than the one you use for hunting deer, since fatigue will set-in quickly in the arm holding the bow, while you’re waiting for the best shot. Also I like the Spitfire broadhead for bowhunting turkeys.

*”Have your bow already set-up, so that you can draw the strings straight back, without having to tilt the bow up or down when you spot the bird in-close.

*”Wait until the bird is right in front of the blind before you draw your bow. When a gobbler’s locked-in and totally focused on the decoy, generally he won’t see you draw your bow.

Click for Larger View*”Take one of these shots for your best chance not to miss the tom. I like a turkey to be sideways, broadside of me, and then I aim at his thighs. If I can get an arrow in the turkey’s thighs, I know he can’t run, he can’t fly, and his main artery runs through that section of his body. When I get a quartering-away shot on the thighs, my arrow will break the turkey down and pass all the way through his vitals to put him down quickly. Another shot I wait for is when the tom’s facing-away from me, and his tail feathers are fanned. Then I can shoot right at the base of his tail at his anus, which means the arrow will travel completely through the turkey and put him down. Or, you can take a shot when the turkey’s facing-away from you and standing very still. You aim for the wattles, where the feathers join the neck. You also can shoot when the turkey’s walking-away by aiming low on his back to try and break the spinal column and let the arrow exit-out of his chest.”

To learn more about how to hunt turkeys successfully, click here, or visit, and type in the name of John E. Phillips’ latest turkey-hunting book, “Turkey Hunting Tactics,” that’s now available from Kindle books and contains information on all aspects of turkey hunting, including: how to set up on turkeys; how to hunt turkeys; what equipment is best; what’s the differences in western and eastern turkey hunting and how that influences the way you hunt and more. Phillips’ other information-packed turkey books, also available on Kindle, include “The Turkey Hunter’s Bible” and “PhD Gobblers.”

Check back each day this week for more about "How to Miss a Turkey "

Day 1: You Will Miss Turkeys If You’re An Avid Turkey Hunter
Day 2: More Turkey Misses
Day 3: Misjudging Distance
Day 4: Not Seeing the Aiming Point Will Keep You from Bagging Your Turkey
Day 5: Arrowing A Gobbler Turkey

ALL CONTENT PROTECTED UNDER THE DIGITAL MILLENIUM COPYRIGHT ACT. Content theft, either printed or electronic is a federal offense.


Entry 661, Day 5