I love bowhunting turkeys during the spring. But I love deer hunting in the fall more. I also like bass fishing once the weather turns nice. With all these hobbies, my wallet gets thin, and I need to prioritize where I spend my money. Turkey hunting is lower on my list, so I pinch pennies when it comes to buying must-have turkey gear. Here are some tips to get you outfitted with the gear you need to bowhunt turkeys without going broke:
Turkey Archery Targets: $6
A life-size, 3D turkey target would be great, but they are pricey. Instead, buy paper targets ($1 ea.) and pin them to your normal block or bag target. There is a standing and strutting pose, and the targets show the vitals of the turkeys so you can get dialed in and feel confident in your shots. I buy three of each pose before the season and shoot at them until the vitals are punched out.
Hunting Blinds: $0
No doubt pop-up turkey blinds are effective for concealment, but I never enjoyed hunting out of one. I didn’t just weather through cabin fever to sit in a tent. I prefer to stay mobile, walk the spring woods and create blinds out of what’s available: A big tree, deadfall, outcropping of rocks or brush. I also grab a pair of hand pruners and some zip ties from the garage to snip branches and create a natural blind, and leave the tents to ice fishermen.
Turkey decoys are my biggest splurge. I always put at least one out. They not only attract gobblers, but they distract them as well. Whether I am blind calling or working in a bird that answered my locator call, I like to set up the decoy behind me, much like an elk hunter uses a cow decoy. Like I said, I like to move a lot, so a decoy that is mobile is an absolute must. I carry two Montana Decoy hens and a strutter in my vest at all times. I am looking forward to trying out the new Miss Purr-Fect – a 3D hen that can be set up in a breeder, feeder and looker pose. That kind of versatility in one decoy is invaluable to a bowhunter chasing turkeys.
Turkey Broadheads: $33.99
Speaking of broadheads, I shoot the Wasp Drone when I deer hunt, but when it comes to picking a turkey hunting broadhead, the Jak-Hammer is in my quiver. The vitals on a turkey are small, and I feel better shooting a broadhead with a 1-¾-inch cutting diameter. Also, I dial back the poundage of my bow to 55 lbs. This makes it easier to draw, hold and wait for the perfect shot as a bird is strutting 15 yards from me. It also keeps my arrow from passing through the bird. When an arrow doesn’t pass through the turkey, it can “pin” the wings and make an escape by flight or foot less likely.
I don’t know if I am good turkey caller. I really don’t care too much. I am sure there are times when the calling you hear at the shows comes in handy, but I have called-in and killed birds with some language that probably sounds pretty funky to real turkeys. Each season, I buy a mouth call, break it in by mimicking what I hear on TV as best I can and hope for the best. Master the basic yelp, purr and cut, and you will call in birds. Silence is golden though. Once the bird I am sweet-talking sees the decoy, I shut up so as not to give away my location. When putting the decoy behind me, even if the longbeard does hang up, he is still in bowrange. In addition to a mouth call, I also carry a crow call to locate birds on the roost. After the birds fly down for the morning, I usually yelp the rest of day to provoke a gobble.
Shooting a Turkey with a Bow: Priceless
All the other turkey hunting gear I use – camo, facemasks, packs, etc. – is stuff I already have from deer hunting. So spending about 150 dollars to hunt turkey is well worth it in my eyes. On most spring days around 10:00 A.M., I am usually more focused on finding a shed antler or scouting for deer signs; turkey hunting seems more laidback compared to my serious deer hunting attitude. Yet, when you have a bird strutting and drumming up close, it rivals the adrenaline rush felt when a buck is chasing a doe past your stand. Plus, stuffed turkey poppers are a good appetizer before a deer steak.