Phillip Vanderpool: Blind Up For Gobblers With A Bow

Editor’s Note: Hunter’s Specialties’ Pro, Phillip Vanderpool, has taken 50 wild turkeys with his bow. This week, Vanderpool will tell us how to use a blind and decoys to insure your turkey-hunting success.  
Most of the time, when I’m hunting turkeys with a bow, I’ll have a cameraman with me in the blind, so that’s why I like the Hunter’s Specialties’ Primetime Blind. Once we’re in the blind, I open all three of the blind windows. I’ll usually take zip ties with me to make sure I get the window coverings tied-up tightly. Then I can get maximum visibility when a turkey comes-in to the blind.

Next, I’ll set up my decoy 8-12 yards from the blind, depending on the terrain, facing sideways to the direction from which I think the tom will come. If a little hill is in front of me, I may sit the decoy further or closer to me, because I want the gobbler to see the decoy, regardless of from which direction the gobbler comes, as quickly as possible. I prefer to use a jake or a hen decoy, because 9 out of 10 times, a longbearded gobbler will come to a jake decoy to try and run off that jake. I don’t like to use a decoy that’s in full strut, because timid or subordinate gobblers may shy away from a full-strut decoy, although they generally won’t shy away from a jake or a hen decoy. If I only can use one decoy all-season long, I’ll probably just use a hen turkey decoy.
Some bowhunters believe the decoy needs to face the blind. But, I’ve learned that when a gobbler comes to a decoy, he’ll usually walk all the way around the decoy, many times, making many shooting opportunities for the hunter. Usually a turkey won’t look into the blind, as long as the blind isn’t facing into the sun. Since the Hunter’s Specialties’ blinds are black on the inside, if you’re wearing camouflage, including a head net and gloves, most of the time the gobbler won’t spot you. You can draw your bow and prepare for the shot, if the turkey’s coming in from the side of the blind. However, I generally wait until the gobbler is right in front of the blind before I draw the bow. When a gobbler is locked-in and totally focused on the decoy, most of the time he’s not going to see you when you draw your bow.
I shoot the same 65-pound Mathews bow for hunting deer and turkeys, because it has an 85% let-off. Here are my suggestions to keep from missing toms with your bow:

* Set-out a turkey decoy.
* Use a blind to allow you to draw the bow and prepare for the shot without the gobbler spotting you.
* Consider shooting a lighter-weight bow than the one you use for hunting deer, since fatigue will set-in quickly in the arm holding the bow, while you’re waiting for the best shot.  Also I like the Spitfire broadhead for bowhunting turkeys.  
* Have your bow already set up, so that you can draw the strings straight back, without having to tilt the bow up or down when you spot the bird in-close.
* Wait until the bird is right in front of the blind before you draw your bow. When a gobbler’s locked-in and totally focused on the decoy, generally he won’t see you draw your bow.
* Take one of these shots for your best chance not to miss the tom.  I like a turkey to be sideways, broadside of me, and then I aim at his thighs. If I can get an arrow in the turkey’s thighs, I know he can’t run, he can’t fly, and his main artery runs through that section of his body. When I get a quartering-away shot on the thighs, my arrow will break the turkey down and pass all the way through his vitals to put him down quickly. Another shot I wait for is when the tom’s facing-away from me, and his tail feathers are fanned. Then I can shoot right at the base of his tail at his anus, which means the arrow will travel completely through the turkey and put him down. Or, you can take a shot when the turkey’s facing-away from you and standing very still. You aim for the wattles, where the feathers join the neck. You also can shoot when the turkey’s walking-away by aiming low on his back to try and break the spinal column and let the arrow exit-out of his chest.