Where to Aim when Bowhunting Turkeys

Video where do you shoot a turkey with a bow

Shooting a turkey with a shotgun is pretty straightforward – just aim for the head and pull the trigger. But when it comes to using a bow, things get a bit more complicated. You have a few different options for where to shoot, and it all depends on the bird’s position. Don’t worry though, after 25 years of bowhunting turkeys, I’ve figured out the best aiming points for clean and efficient kills. Let’s break it down:

1. Head-On Shot

photo showing where to shoot a turkey with a bow
For this shot, aim dead-center, just above the beard.

This is my favorite shot because it’s nearly foolproof. The turkey’s beard provides a precise aiming point, whether the bird is in full strut or not. Plus, it’s a common angle in the field. To take this shot, find the beard while at full draw and settle your pin about an inch above it. If you’re a little high, you hit the neck, which is fatal. If you’re a little low, you drive the arrow through the vitals by cutting through the beard.

2. Broadside Shot

illustration showing the dark triangle of a turkey
Find the “dark triangle” and aim just an inch or so behind it on a broadside strutter.

If the turkey is in strut, locate the dark triangle where the feathers on the side or neck meet the point formed by the upper and lower wing. Aim just an inch behind that point, and the bird will go down quickly. If the bird is not strutting, aim in line with the legs a little more than halfway up the body. Look for the dark bar of feathers that separates the upper and lower wing and shoot at the front portion of it.

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3. Quartering-To Shot

photo of where to shoot a turkey with a bow
With a quartering-to tom, run your pin up the far leg until it’s even with the base of the beard and shoot.

While some hunters may disagree, I find the quartering-to shot incredibly effective. If you have this shot, take it. For a strutting turkey, aim at the leading edge of the dark triangle mentioned earlier. If the bird is not in strut, find the offside leg and lift your pin straight up until it is even with or slightly above the base of the beard. With proper execution, your turkey will be tagged and down before you know it.

4. Head/Neck Shot

photo of where to shoot a turkey with a bow
If you get a face-on head shot, aim a little low on the neck, so your arrow can punch through and hit the vitals as a backup.

Don’t be afraid of this shot, even if you don’t have a specialized broadhead for decapitation. While decapitating broadheads like the Magnus Bullhead are effective, a standard 2-inch cut expandable broadhead will do the job just fine. Take the shot aiming a little low on the neck, allowing the arrow to pass through and hit the vitals. It’s an all-or-nothing shot, but if you hit, it’s game over for the turkey.

5. Facing Away Shot

photo of where to shoot a turkey with a bow
The old “Texas heart shot” is lethal on a gobbler. Just take your time.

This shot is lethal but should be approached with caution. There’s a tendency to rush when a bird is walking away, fearing that your opportunity is slipping away. Take your time and aim at the base of the fan, at the vent. Similar to the “Texas heart shot” on deer, your arrow will penetrate through the bird and reach the vital organs for a quick kill.

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Best Setup for Bow Shots at Turkeys

To optimize your chances of a successful bowhunt, consider using a ground blind combined with highly realistic decoys such as Avian X or DSD. The natural tail fan on a strutter decoy adds to the realism. While you can still have success with a natural blind, a pop-up ground blind provides superior concealment. Realistic decoys divert the turkey’s attention away from you, especially during the drawing phase. So, make sure to position yourself well and take advantage of these helpful tools.

Wait for Your Shot

Remember to be patient when a tom approaches. Allow the bird to get close and wait for the perfect shot. It’s easy to get antsy with a tom in the decoys, but staying calm is crucial. As long as the bird isn’t spooked, there’s plenty of time to observe its behavior and wait for the ideal moment to take your shot.

Best Broadhead Choice for Bowhunting Turkeys

photo of turkey broadhead
The author prefers a good expandable head with a 2-inch cutting diameter, like this one by SEVR.

When it comes to broadheads, avoid using fixed-blade ones for turkey hunting. A fixed blade reduces your cutting diameter and offers less room for error. Since turkeys don’t have heavy bones, you don’t need excessive penetration. Instead, opt for a Titanium SEVR 2.0 or a Rage Hypodermic NC broadhead with a 2-inch cutting diameter. This combination will ensure clean and effective kills. Bowhunting turkeys is an exhilarating experience, and with this shot-placement guide, you’ll be filling out an archery turkey tag in no time.

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