Wild turkeys can be difficult to recover even after they have been shot with a razor-sharp broadhead. Turkeys are able to take a hard hit, and still have the stamina to walk, or even fly away, and possibly never are found. If an archer is unable to his mark, recovery will not be easy. Every hunter has an ethical and moral obligation to know here to aim for the quickest possible kill on a bird that has left many hunters scratching their heads as they search diligently for a turkey that they thought had just taken a lethal hit.
Turkey hunters have three options as to what type of broadhead to use when pursuing turkeys. They include the fixed, mechanical and guillotine-type broadheads.
Fixed-blade broadheads that are at least 1 ¼ -inches in diameter, or mechanical heads that are shot at the vitals are they preferred choice by many hunters. Other hunters choose to shoot at the neck of a big bird with a big four-blade broadhead made just for the neck and head region of a turkey. If you ask 50 hunters if they prefer a body shot or a head shot for a quick kill, the answers will likely be split even between the two choices.
For years all that turkey hunters had available to them were large, fixed-blade broadheads. This type of head has accounted for countless numbers of turkeys over the years. As technology improves, so does the broadheads available for the turkey hunter.
Arrow penetration has been a highly debated topic among turkey hunters for as long as turkeys have been hunted with archery equipment. Some hunters prefer a pass-through shot that will cause a lot of damage, as well as leave a good blood trail to follow. I believe that the turkey will receive a good deal of damage, but I have found that most turkeys do not leave a good blood trail to follow. Their thick feathers will soak up most of the blood before it ever has a chance to reach the ground.
Some hunters, including, myself, like it when the arrow does not pass through the turkey. I like the arrow to stay in the bird so it will continue to do damage. One way to keep your arrow from passing through the turkey is to put some sort of a stopper behind the broadhead.
Open on impact (mechanical) broadheads are quickly becoming favorites of turkey hunters. Mechanical broadheads that offer a wide cutting diameter will cause plenty of hemorrhaging along with a lot of damage to a turkey. A well placed open on impact heads will quickly put a bird down for the count.
When choosing an expandable broadhead choose one that has at least 2-inches worth of cutting diameter. A broadhead that can deliver a wound of this size will help put the bird down quickly. It is nice to have a broadhead that flies like a field point only to expand to a razor-sharp killing machine upon impact. Expandable broadheads will loose momentum upon contact. For that reason it is not necessary or advised to use a stopper behind a mechanical head.
The biggest mistake that bowhunters make is hitting the turkey too low, or too far back. It will be very hard for even an experienced turkey hunter to find a bird that has been shot in this part of its body.
The size of a turkey’s heart and lung area is no bigger than a man’s fist. That is not a big target to hit, especially if you are accustomed to shooting at the vitals of a mature whitetail. Turkeys that are strutting appear to be a larger target than what they really are. The truth is what you see on a strutting turkey is mostly air and feathers. There is very little actual body under all that fluff. Do not be tricked into believing you see something that is not really there. Turkeys are constantly moving. For this reason shot angles are always changing, making it difficult to get a shot at the vitals.
It is almost impossible to tell where the vitals are located on a strutting tom. A better shot would be to wait until the turkey is facing head on, and try to put your arrow just above the base of the beard. If a strutting tom is facing away from you send an arrow through the vent (anus) of the turkey. The arrow will either pass through the chest, or hit the spine. Either way it will result in a quick, ethical kill.
There was a time that if a hunter wanted to shoot a turkey in the head/neck area he would have to use a traditional fixed-blade broadhead. That is a tough shot to make for even the most skilled archer. A broadhead made especially for head shots is a better choice.
When aiming for the head/neck region of a turkey, hunters have a bigger kill zone than they realize. It is even bigger than the heart and lungs that you would shoot at if aiming for the vitals. Anywhere from the top of the head to the bottom of the neck is included in the kill zone.
A turkey can be in almost any position, and still offer the hunter an opportunity for a shot at the head and neck. It does not matter if the turkey is facing towards you, or away from you, strutting, or standing straight up. As long as you can see the neck, you have a good shot.
A turkey’s head does a lot of moving up and down, but the pivot point in the middle of the neck stays as close too still as a hunter can hope for. For this reason, the best place to aim is in the center of the “S” shape of the neck.
Even though I refer to the head/neck shot that is not the case. Some hunters might be spooked at the idea of shooting at the head of a small turkey. The truth is that archers should aim for the long skinny neck of a turkey, which provides a sizeable target.
The good thing about a turkey that has been shot in the neck is that there will no be any trailing involved. If you hit a turkey in the neck I doubt if the turkey will make it a step before it falls goes down.
Nothing is more exciting, or sometimes frustrating, than attempting to shoot a spring tom with archery gear. Make a good shot and recovery is quick. If you make a poor shot you are libel to never find that turkey. Whether you shoot a 2-inch expandable broadhead at the body of a tom, or a 4-inch head at the neck, wait for a good shot at less than 20 yards. The recovery will be quick and easy.