Phillip Vanderpool: Running & Gunning When Bowhunting Turkeys

When I’m running and gunning for turkeys with my bow, I usually won’t carry a blind. A total concealment blind is best, when you know where the turkeys are and are bowhunting. You can pick out a place to put your blind, before the day you’re planning to hunt. But, when you’re running, gunning and looking for turkeys, carrying a total-concealment blind can be somewhat of a problem. But do realize that taking a turkey without a blind may be the most difficult way to get a gobbler with your bow, besides trying to call him in close enough to grab his legs and take a beating.
When I’m running, gunning and calling with my Hunter’s Specialties’ turkey calls, I know that the turkey may answer close to me, and I may need to set up quickly. Before I ever call, I look at the terrain around me. I try to get close to some type of opening where I quickly and easily can set up my decoy that a gobbler coming in should be able to see. Then I want to take a stand 8-10 yards away from that decoy. Hunter’s Specialties makes a portable blind that you can put in your turkey vest, and I’ll place that small blind all the way around me, to break up my silhouette.

If I don’t have the portable blind with me, I’ll use my pruning sheers to cut a few branches, to stick in the ground around me, to also break up my silhouette. If you don’t have time to do anything but to set up your decoy, get behind the biggest tree you can find that’s within 8-12 yards of your decoy. I have used a big tree before to hide behind, to draw my bow and then to lean-out from behind that tree to take the shot. Putting the decoy out is so important, since if you can get the gobbler’s full attention on the decoy, you have a better chance of making the draw and getting the shot. I have taken gobblers without a decoy.  
But I prefer to use a decoy like Hunter’s Specialties’ Sweet Sally Hen that folds-up. Then I can put it in my vest, take it out and unfold it quickly when I see a gobbler coming in to where I’ve been calling. If I know I’ll be hunting in the timber, I prefer to have a jake decoy like Hunter’s Specialties’ Sneaky Pete, which shows up better in the timber than the hen decoy does. Both of the decoys are collapsible and will fold up and fit in your vest.

If you don’t have a decoy when you’re hunting without a blind, then you become the hunted instead of the hunter. The gobbler is coming in, looking for the hen that’s been calling to him. When the tom doesn’t see a decoy, he’ll be looking for you. But, if he spots another turkey, whether it’s a jake or a hen, that longbeard will be looking at that turkey decoy instead of looking for you. I can tell you for sure, that you won’t take many turkeys with a bow, if you’re not hunting with a decoy and a blind.