A New Challenge
I’ve always enjoyed a new challenge when it comes to hunting. Be it hunting a new location, new species or hunting with something new. When I talk about hunting with something new it could be a new model or a new style to hunt something with and I’ve enjoyed testing many new products long before they hit the market over my time in the outdoors industry ranging from all sorts of rifles, handguns, bows and crossbows.
Over that time I’ve been asked to do and hunt a lot of species and locations to provide feedback and sometimes I’ve found success and sometimes I’ve failed but every time I’ve attempted something new I’ve learned a lot of new things and had quite a few experiences I’d have never had.
So, the purpose of this write up is to provide some lessons learned when it comes to crossbow hunting for Turkeys. Keep in mind I’ve got somewhere around 15 years of experience hunting with a crossbow but I’ve only recently in the past 5 year’s hunted turkeys with a crossbow. I really didn’t think at first it would be that different but like anything there are things you’ll learn sometimes the hard way and sometimes through research that will help you be better prepared.
Tip #1: Use a Steady Rest
My first attempt at crossbow hunting was on a hunt for Rio’s in Texas and I had about 3 days to dedicate to it…. After two solid misses I learned I needed to think more about being steady on the shot. Both were clean misses but both came ever so close to wounding the bird. So, having a SteddyEddy Crossbow Monopod System on your crossbow or shooting it off some sort of shooting sticks for shots is highly advisable if you’re not super steady.
Tip #2: Purchase the Best Crossbow You Can Afford
Gearing up, there are a lot of great TenPoint hunting crossbow models on the market today to hunt with. Choosing one is about personal preference and budget. I’ve hunted with many different models over the past 15 years I’ve shot crossbows and all of them will get the job done. I’ve really taken a liking to the new Vapor RS470 model due to its lightweight size, speed and ability to uncock it and cock it anywhere I’m in the field. This new feature thanks to the ACUslide allows me to move through thick cover with it uncocked like I would with a shotgun but then when I sit down quickly I can load it back up with little to no effort and be ready for a quick shot.
Tip #3: Choose the Most Accurate and Lethal Crossbow Broadheads
Choosing broadheads is another very important task in hunting with crossbows. We’ve tested several models of broadheads over the past few years and most all of them performed well in the field. I suggest looking at the TenPoint EVO-X Centerpunch Broadhead which is designed for crossbows and flies with field point accuracy. That leads me to my next point about shot placement.
Tip #4: Know Where a Turkey’s Vitals Are Located
Sighting in and being confident in your crossbow certainly is an easy one to list for any type of hunting but it’s one I can’t understate enough when it comes to turkey hunting due to the small vital areas of a turkey. First off if you’re not familiar with vitals on a turkey or where to aim with a crossbow I also suggest you spend some time doing research on turkey vitals and where to aim. What you’ll quickly learn is it’s not a large area and being able to know precisely where to aim is crucial. I recall a turkey hunt with a crossbow where I thought the shot placement the hunter made was perfect only to watch the bird backflip and run away.
Tip #5: Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice, practice and practice some more. I mention this all the time no matter what I’m hunting with, and when I talk about practice I also mean practicing from the positions you may be shooting from, which, in turkey hunting, can be shooting at different angles than just a straight on shot.
Tip #6: Scout for Success
Spend time understanding where the toms are going to be later in the day and not just coming off the roost. Personally, I’ve always had better luck in calling in a tom mid-morning to mid afternoon hours when the hens have moved on and left him. I’ve had many a great hunt not getting set up on a tom until after 9:00AM. What I always keep in mind is where I’ve heard the tom gobbling on other hunts during mid-day, where I’ve seen them in the off season, and I’m always thinking about where and how I can sneak in, set up, and settle in to call in those areas. This leads into my next tip on waiting out toms in pop up blinds.
Tip #7: Use a Portable Blind
Use a portable pop up blind. This is a great way to hide yourself and be able to move with your crossbow and to hunt with someone else. We’ve found success many times in areas near watering holes, feeding areas, and so forth with this type of a set up to hide both cameraman and hunter together. While I personally love and enjoy just plopping down by a tree sometimes, that’s hard to do when filming a hunt and the pop-up blind provides cover for everyone. Using decoys in this type of a set up is another bonus as you’re more apt to stay put for some time. Finally, this type of set up allows you to get where you know the turkey will likely show up and helps to camouflage your movement while you are being patient in waiting them out. Soft calls really can seal the deal on locations and set ups like this.
Tip #8: Be Prepared to Track
Be prepared to track when using a crossbow…yes, I said track a turkey. Amazingly turkeys are tougher than you think, and they also will bleed more than you think. I didn’t really know all this until a few year’s ago when we tracked several turkeys after they were shot with both compound bows and crossbows. One of them led to one of the most unique turkey hunts and recoveries I’ve ever been on.
Farewell and Good Luck!
I’ve really taken to hunting turkeys now with a crossbow. It’s a new challenge that has allowed me to learn to be more patient in calling in a tom closer than before while also giving me insight that I didn’t have on both turkeys and crossbow accessories. Good luck and I hope to see several great photos of you posing with a tom soon and if not…it’s OK – we don’t get one every time we go hunting either!