John’s Note: With a long list of wins at turkey calling championships, avid turkey hunter and caller Walter Parrott (www.walterparrott.com) of Frederickstown, Missouri, is known as one of the nation’s top turkey hunters. He also hosts the TV shows, “100% Real Hunting” for Bass Pro Shops and “Winchester TV.”
I believe that turkey hunting is one of the greatest passions life has to offer.
Few things can compare to the connection with nature, the challenge of the hunt and the thrill of victory you get when you bag a prize bird. But when you hunt turkeys with a bow, you really put a number of limitations on your ability to take a gobbler. For instance, you give-up the range of your shotgun, and you add a significant amount of movement to the final moments of the hunt. However, while taking turkeys with a bow is difficult, it is not impossible. So, if you want to test your skills with a bow and increase your chances of bagging a gobbler, try some of the tactics I’ve learned over the years that have helped me become a more-successful bowhunter for turkeys.
As most turkey hunters know, the more you move when a turkey’s in close, the greater the odds are that he’ll spot you when you attempt to get off a shot. If a turkey is coming to your call, and you’re hunting with a shotgun, you simply can point the gun in the direction of the turkey and get ready for the shot. However, when you’re hunting turkeys with a bow, you first have to make a major movement to draw your bow, and then you have to move the bow and your body to aim.
For this reason, I believe a hunter needs to use a blind if he wants to take a gobbler with a bow. Since a turkey can see probably 10 times better than a human can, more than likely a bird will spot a bowhunter’s movements and get spooked. When I bowhunt turkeys, I use a pop-up, cabin-type blind that covers me on all sides and on top. Not only is this blind portable and easy to set up, turkeys don’t seem to recognize the blind as a solid wall of cloth, and the blind doesn’t spook the turkeys usually. Too, if the turkey doesn’t present you with a perfect shot, you can let your bow down and re-draw in the blind without alerting the bird to your presence.
Another essential for successfully taking turkeys with a bow is using decoys, if your state permits them.
If a turkey is preoccupied with your decoy when he comes in to your calling, the bird won’t stare at your blind and try to determine what it is. I try to set out my decoys at about 20 yards from my blind. I want the gobbler to come in and move around the decoys to give me a shot of 20 yards or less. If I can get the gobbler to come within 10 yards of my blind, I’ll have even more confidence of taking a successful shot with my bow.
If you’re planning to hunt in the woods, remember that the turkeys won’t react to decoys in the woods the same way that they will to decoys in a field. There’s not enough wind in the woods to make the decoys move. When a gobbler comes in and sees those decoys standing absolutely still, he may get a little nervous. If you’re hunting in the woods, I suggest that you tie a string on your decoys or use decoys that move so the gobbler sees lifelike movements as he approaches your blind.
To learn more about turkey hunting from the masters, get these Kindle eBooks by John E. Phillips, including: “The Turkey Hunter’s Bible (available as an eBook or in paperback),” “PhD Gobblers: How to Hunt the Smartest Turkeys in the World,” “Turkey Hunting Tactics” and “Outdoor Life’s Complete Turkey Hunting.” Click here to get these books.