Things to Consider When Turkey Hunting with a Crossbow
Turkey hunting is always a challenging, close-range endeavor. Making the shot with archery equipment, however, raises the bar to a whole other level. To be successful, you need turkey hunting skills, pinpoint accuracy, and patience—even if you’re armed with a Ravin.Pursuing turkey with a crossbow is not legal in all states but a good number allow it and several more are proposing to legalize it for future seasons. This means you’ll need to start by researching the regulations in the state you’re hunting in to make sure it is legal to hunt turkey with a crossbow and a magnified scope.
Gear and Equipment
Assuming your hunt is legal, you’ll need to get set up with the right equipment.
To have the best chance of success you’ll need a quality crossbow that you feel comfortable using in the field. Some crossbows are heavy and bulky. They might be fine if you’re sitting in a blind or ladder stand all day, but turkey hunting requires scouting and walking, often across a good amount of ground. That means turkey hunters will appreciate a lightweight, shorter crossbow.
Ravin Crossbows R Series crossbows offer great stealthy options in a light, compact, shorter crossbow that delivers high-speed performance. The silent cocking of the R Series makes for quiet hunting, too.
If you’re serious about harvesting a turkey, we recommend you buy the best crossbow you can afford.
Arrow & Broadheads
The crossbow setup you use for deer hunting will likely prove just as effective for turkey hunting. Rarely will there be a passthrough on turkey, as their deep feathers protect the bird like armor. Turkey feathers usually get dragged into the wound, draining your arrow’s kinetic energy.
Using the Ravin Lighted Arrows can be helpful when trying to find a wounded turkey.
Broadhead selection is often personal to the hunter. Ravin Crossbows offers Ravin Titanium Broadheads, Ravin Steel Broadheads, and Ravin Aluminum Broadheads; each type is designed to work with your Ravin Crossbow.
Because turkeys have keen eyesight, it can be difficult to stay completely undetectable. Some archery hunters prefer to use a blind or a blind shield to hide their movement while pursuing turkey. This isn’t necessary, but it can give you an advantage.
Many blinds are compact and are easy to carry in the field, including full blinds, single-person blinds, one and two-panel shield blinds, and even mesh barrier blinds.
photo credit: Life In Camo Media
Shooting rests are an excellent tool for turkey hunting and that makes sense if you think about your typical turkey-hunting scenario. Chances are, you’ll end up patiently waiting for your perfect shot to present itself.
With an arrow from a crossbow, you get such a small area of impact that precision is critical. A shooting rest significantly assist you with that accuracy. It can also leave your hands free to use calls.
Shot placement is critical when archery hunting any game animal, but especially with wild turkey.
The area you are aiming for on a wild turkey is approximately the size of a baseball. You never know what shot opportunity you will have in the field, so practicing all shooting scenarios on the range will build your confidence and proficiency. Keep in mind that a live turkey will not be a static target, so practice standing, sitting, and crouching shots, working up and downhill.
Ultimately, your goal is to have pinpoint accuracy in placing a shot for a quick, ethical harvest.
You will often have to decide which shot is your best option quickly and there are three presentations for an archery shot on turkey we recommend preparing for:
the broadside shot,
the frontal shot, and
the rear shot.
If you are an extremely proficient archer, you might also consider a “quartering to” shot (also called a “quartering-toward” shot, which means with the animal facing you but at an angle) or a rear spine shot. Regardless of which shot you opt for, if a bird lays down or squats and still has an upright head after you hit it, shoot it again.
The first rule to making an ethical broadside shot with a crossbow
wild turkey is to be patient and wait for a tom to stop strutting or to posture into a half strut. It is very hard to identify the vital area for an ethical shot while a tom is strutting.
To hit a turkey in the heart and lungs, you want to aim just behind where the wing joins the body. A broadside shot will be your best choice if you are new to hunting turkey with a crossbow, unless you are incredibly accurate out to the yardage of your shot.
Photo Credit: Tes Randal
A frontal shot on turkey tends to be most archery hunters' least favorite. This shot presents a smaller target to hit the heart and lungs, and the trophy beards often get cut clean off by the broadhead.
If you do take a frontal shot on a wild turkey, your aim point is midway between the neckline and beard, usually one inch above the beard. You will not want to shoot a full strutting tom with a frontal shot because its posture is compressed, and that makes it extra challenging to acquire the aim point.
Photo Credit: Tes Randal
This presentation results in the smallest target area, but it’s most likely the shot that will result in the bird dropping where it stands. The aim point for a rear shot will be the bird’s anus when the tom is in full strut and facing away. The arrow will sever the spine, crippling the tom before piercing his heart and lung area.
Rear shots require more accuracy and should not be taken at extended ranges, as they have a higher margin for errors, resulting in a wounded bird.
Photo Credit: Tes Randal
If you are ready to take on a new challenge, turkey hunting with a crossbow might be your next bucket list hunt. With preparation, the right crossbow equipment, and the opportunity, you can harvest a turkey this Spring hunting season.