Crossbow hunting for wild turkeys is exciting, challenging, and rewarding. Each spring, many turkeys are shot with crossbow bolts, but some are never recovered. In most cases, poor shot placement is to blame, as a gobbler’s feathers hide the outline of the turkey’s body while it is in full strut, making it difficult for the crossbow hunter to determine exactly where the vital organs are located.
Knowing where to shoot a turkey with a hunting crossbow is critical — as proper bolt placement can make or break your chances of harvesting the bird. A turkey’s vitals are only about the size of a softball — much smaller than the basketball-like size of a deer’s vitals. Since the area that you need to hit is small, you need to know exactly how to select the ideal spot for your shot and that you can hit that spot accurately, with little margin for error.
The graphics below show the proper shot placement on wild turkeys from different angles that you will encounter in the field – quartering to you, facing you, broadside, and facing away from you.
If a turkey is quartering to you when it is coming in, identify where the neck meets the body and aim about an inch low of that spot, while also aiming a couple of inches into the turkey’s body from the front of the breast.
If a turkey is facing you when it presents you with a shot, identify where the neck meets the body and aim about an inch below it, or midway between the neckline and beard.
If a turkey is positioned broadside or sideways to you, aim about an inch down from the neckline and a few inches into the turkey’s body.
If a turkey is facing directly away from you, yes, you guessed it – shoot him “where the sun doesn’t shine”.