Bowhunting wild turkeys? These are the 3 secrets you must know

Beyond the blind

For a challenging but rewarding wild turkey hunt this spring season, head into the woods with your bow

Leavon Peleikis
Leavon Peleikis

Tactics

When I’m planning to hunt wooded properties, I start out by going for a long walk at sunset the night before. I’ll try to cover as much ground as possible, stopping every 75 yards to let out a call on my box call in an attempt to get a reply. If I don’t locate a bird, I’ll start again at dawn where I left off, and keep walking and calling until I find one. But if I do strike up a gobble in the evening, I’ll immediately look for a good spot to set up in the morning.

When looking for a spot to set up, I first make sure there are no major obstructions, such as big creeks, fences or rock cliffs, between the bird and my position. Then I look for a large tree, approximately shoulder width in diameter, in an area that isn’t too thick with brush.

Come morning, I first take the quiver off my bow and lay it on the ground beside me. That way, the bright colours of the fletchings won’t draw any unwanted attention from a wary bird. I then use my rangefinder to determine the distances to certain major objects, such as prominent boulders or stumps, that I can later reference to gauge how close an approaching tom is getting.

When hunting with a gun, I normally sit with my back against the tree. With a bow, however, I’ve learned to place myself slightly behind the tree instead. I then use a pot call until a bird comes into sight, switching to my diaphragm for the finishing touches. Once I know the bird is making his way toward me, I quit calling. Generally, the tom will keep coming, searching for the hen. If you keep calling, however, he may hang up outside of bow range, expecting the hen to come to him.

When the tom gets within bow range, the tree will supply you with the necessary cover to draw your bow. Just be sure to stay calm and not rush the shot, remembering to breathe as the king of spring takes his final steps out into the open. And that’s when you let your arrow fly.

Also see contributor Leavon Peleikis’ beginner’s guide to turkey hunting at www.outdoorcanada.ca/turkeyguide.

Turkey boosters

CWTF

Crazy about turkey hunting and want to help give back to the resource? Consider joining the Canadian Wild Turkey Federation (CWTF). With the tagline “The new face of conservation in Canada,” the group launched in 2014 after the U.S.-based National Wild Turkey Federation closed its operations here. Today, the two groups work together to promote wild turkey restoration and conservation, the turkey-hunting tradition, and the recruitment and retention of hunters. “There are a lot of kids who want to get into hunting or older people getting back into hunting, and we want to be there to support them,” says the CWTF’s long-standing president, Terry Smith, noting that the federation has also been striving to expand its national presence. Currently, the CWTF has chapters in Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, with plans for a presence in Alberta and B.C., as well. 

Learn more about the Canadian Wild Turkey Federation at www.cwtf.ca.

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