Wild turkeys have keen eyesight and they eagerly respond to calls. They can be exciting to bowhunt, and you can pursue them in spring. Whether you’re preparing for the opener or just want to enhance your skills, here are some ways you can practice bowhunting turkeys.
Learn the Calls
With a crossbow, you could get a good shot if the gobbler is close to you. Ideally, you need the gobbler to be about 10 – 20 yards away in order for it to be in range. If you’re transitioning from using a gun with a 50-yard+ range, this can be hard to get used to.
To get them to come closer, you need to learn the calls. Use a mouth call to issue soft clucks and purrs. A mouth call is a great addition to your gear, as it allows you to keep your hands on the bow, and you can play with variations in tones and sounds to really achieve the softer whine that you need.
Other than shooting from a different position, bow hunting turkeys differs from bow hunting deer by the concern bow hunters have with the draw. Turkey hunters know that they need to beat the bird’s sharp vision. This makes drawing the bow extremely difficult to get away with. Even if ground blinds make the task easier, try practicing drawing very slowly. You may also draw when the bird is possibly fanned out away from you. Either way, a slow and careful draw is helpful.
Practicing at these scenarios adjusts your routine for a shot on the ground or while sitting and it also helps adjusts your thinking. Watch out for sticks and branches in the way of a shot. Try ground blind practice. It’s the best way to kill a turkey with your bow, no doubt. However, there are restrictions. You will be limited in your visibility, hearing, and shot angle.
Practice shooting from your knees as well. Ask yourself these questions. Can I clear the window easily when shooing from the blind? Can I not make noise or bump the sidewalls of the blind while having enough room in it?
Learn to practice in the timber as well. While most turkeys are killed with a bow in wide-open fields, you can still practice bowhunting in the timber. Here, it will be more difficult because of the low-light conditions in the woods. But taking the time to practice here will get you ready to go when the opportunity comes, and you’ll build confidence for a run-n-gun bowhunting effort when the time is right.
You can also practice from a chair. Use a turkey lounge chair against a tree so you can shoot your bow nice and easy from them. Take the time to make sure you have adequate limb/cam/string clearance from various angles. These chairs may be hard to carry but they are comfortable stools for waiting for hours. You can take naps on it as you wait out for your bird.
You can also use different positions and postures of targets for practice, like a strutting bird, an upright/alert bird that’s not in strut, as well as a semi-strut gobbling turkey target. They provide a more realistic practice routine, especially when it comes to preparing yourself for different shot positions of the wild turkey.
Wear the Same Clothes
Practice different positions in the clothes you would wear to a turkey hunting session. It will surely benefit your success since you’re more familiar and comfortable in the actual hunt. Remember that concealment is the number one priority when hunting turkeys with a bow. Everything from your face and clothing to your gear and blind needs to be camouflaged correctly, or else risk scrutiny from a tom’s unforgiving gaze.