Why You Missed Your Turkey With a Bow

by Brodie Swisher

While many hunters pledge allegiance to the fact that turkey hunting is a shotgun sport, others will eventually feel the tug to try and kill their tom while hunting turkey with a bow. Like with other critters, the things you see, hear and experience when getting turkeys within bow range is worth every bit of the effort. Still, bowhunting turkeys can be tough. Despite all the deceiving feathers, the kill zone on a turkey is actually very small. My love/hate relationship with bowhunting turkeys seems to continue year after year as they give me fits and I often find myself missing the mark. I know a lot of others seem to ride this same struggle bus, so here’s a look at why we miss when turkey hunting with a bow. Hopefully it will help all of us smooth out the kinks in our efforts to punch a turkey tag with our bow.

turkey with a bow bro-snow-bird
What are the mistakes that continue to keep you from punching your turkey tag with a bow?

You Shot at a Bird Instead of Picking a Feather

The single greatest mistake I make each season when turkey hunting with a bow is putting my pin on the broadside of a turkey and letting the arrow fly. I am simply aiming at the bird, rather than picking a spot. Rather than simply throwing your pin against a pile of feathers and letting it rip, concentrate on picking that one feather where you want your arrow to be before making the shot. It will make the difference in a dead bird and cutting feathers.

You Placed Your Decoys Too Far Away

When it comes to turkey hunting with a bow, place your decoys where you want your shot to happen. Forget how you placed them when hunting with a shotgun. When bowhunting, bring them in tighter. A lot of guys assume that because they shoot deer out to 40 yards with their bow that they can do the same for turkeys. But we’re talking about a different beast. Bring your decoys closer and you’ll experience closer shot opportunities. How close? I typically put my decoys 8-10 yards from the blind when turkey hunting with a bow.

You Panic When Hunting Turkey With a Bow

turkeys with a bow anatomy
Take the time to study a turkey’s vitals from a variety of different angles before you head to the woods to hunt turkeys with a bow.

This is one that gets me more than anything. In the heat of the moment I see a fleeting shot opportunity and I panic. Instead of keeping cool, I blow up on a rushed shot and miss the bird big time. Learn to stay cool, don’t rush the shot, and more birds will die.

You Really Don’t Know Where a Turkey’s Vitals Are

A turkey can be one of the most misleading targets you’ll ever hunt. They look like a big enough target, but the reality is their vitals are about the size of a softball. There’s just not that much to shoot at. And what complicates things even more is that every angle a turkey present creates a different aiming point. Familiarize yourself with a turkey’s vitals before you turn the arrow loose. You just might be surprised at what you find.

You Failed to Use a Precision Broadhead

When it comes to turkeys, you better have a broadhead you believe in. You need a broadhead that is incredibly accurate and does monstrous damage on the intended target. We’re not talking about the ability to hit pie plate size targets like we might get excited about when deer hunting. Turkey hunting demands a broadhead that you can confidently place with precision accuracy.

You Didn’t Practice Like You Do for Deer

It’s funny how we’ll practice all summer leading up to archery deer season, but blow off practice prior to turkey season, the time our shooting really ought to be at its best. Again, we’re talking about super small targets when it comes to hunting turkeys with a bow. We need to be practicing every day, shooting at tiny targets designed to beef up our confidence and keep our muscles ready for game day.

Eliminate the mistakes mentioned above this season and you’ll punch more turkey tags with your bow than ever before. And when you do, be sure to send us your story and photos to share with the audience here at TurkeyHunting.com.

Check out this video for a look at me breaking some of the rules mentioned above on my opening weekend hunt in Tennessee…


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