Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

March 15, 2013

Outdoors: Turkey hunting — Ruffling the right feathers

From Staff Reports
Corsicana Daily Sun

Corsicana — Turkey hunting has taken its rightful place on the top shelf of my favorite pursuits. Those who know me would tell you I’m a hog hunting addict, it’s true, but deer and turkey hunting also take top spots; in fact, I may even jump out on a limb and suggest I like turkey hunting even more than deer hunting – I suppose it depends on which season is on the horizon. Either way, when it comes to turkey hunting, I’m a huge fan!

I began turkey hunting years ago with a rifle; in Texas, turkey hunting with a rifle is legal but let’s be honest, it’s not much of a challenge. The transition was quick; After taking a turkey with a rifle I needed more of a challenge a shotgun became my tool of the trade and remained so for years.

Notches carved into the shotgun stock led me to consider alternative and even more challenging method, bowhunting. My move to bowhunting for turkeys wasn’t the result of some great epiphany – my wife would attest that my brain isn’t wired for high level processing; I simply reasoned that 40 yards or less was the standard shooting distance with my shotgun and I was also comfortable at that distance with a bow. This meant, as a product of my confidence level, when I was in shotgun range, I was in bow range; it was a natural progression.

Hunting turkeys with a bow doesn’t necessarily mean I’m a better hunter; it just means I have volunteered to lose out on more opportunities for the greater glory of bowhunting success. Turkey hunting is tough business whether you use a shotgun or a bow and often ends with killing nothing more than time. No matter how you slice it getting a turkey on the ground comes down to opportunity and shot placement; admittedly, both are harder to come by with a bow.

On a trip for Rio Grande Turkeys last year, I was fortunate to experience the type of bowhunting scenario I thought only played out in dreams. After using a crow call to locate a tom my younger brother, Jim, and I planted a hen decoy at 15 yards then took cover in the recesses of a fallen cedar tree. Good friend, Shawn Green, took cover on the far side of another fallen cedar and began laying out excited yelp runs. It wasn’t long before a bright red waddle appeared through the thicket followed by the rest of the tom’s strutting body. In full strut, the tom continued towards our decoy, turning one direction then the next as he closed the distance. Turkey hunting’s most challenging variables dropped into place, only drawing and shot placement remained… but that’s most of the battle! And, often the chances to draw and shoot come simultaneously.

Drawing a bow back in the open is most of the battle. Turkeys have incredible eyesight, much better than you and me. They can and do see everything! Your only chance to achieve full draw in the open is to wait until the tom passes behind something or turns away from you. Last year, I drew when the turkey turned away from me. He was in full strut and offered me a great target; my arrow found its mark and he was dead within seconds!

Hit ‘Em Where It Hurts!

Shot placement is critical whether you are hunting with a bow or shotgun! Of course shotgun hunters shoot the head when Ol’ Tom has it extended but bowhunters have even more options. The most effective is still a headshot but that type of accuracy on a live target can be incredibly difficult. Instead, I opt for a back or broadside shot. Back-shots are simple. If the tom faces away from you in full strut you’ll see a clear bullseye – shoot it! If he’s turned away but not in full strut, envision a spot in his lower back and let’r rip! A broadside shot is more difficult. Use your x-ray vision to imagine where the turkey’s leg meets his body tucked under the canopy of his wing – shoot him there. Finally, a tom can also be stopped in his tracks with a shot directly through his chest as he is facing you. The reference image shows several effective shot placements, remember all of them. Turkey hunting, like deer hunting, means scenarios are sure to play out in every way except the way you planned. Be prepared!

Consider a few additional turkey hunting tips:

- Use a mechanical broadhead with a large cutting diameter like a Schwacker. Consider using small game callers or other attachments to help ensure you don’t have a pass-through. Learn more about Shwacker Broadheads online at

-  Use a ThermaCELL – I’m dead serious when I say I’ve never had a single mosquito bite when using a ThermaCELL unit and I think we can all agree that springtime skeeters are thick! They also can carry a number of serious diseases. Learn more online at

- Treat your clothes with permethrin to repel and kill ticks. Ticks can carry Lyme disease and other catastrophic diseases. Treating your clothes is simple and you may only need to do it once for the entire season! Learn more online at

Hunt hard, hunt often.

Kevin may be reached for questions, comments and suggestions at