Home Blog  
Archery Bowhunting Turkeys, One Way or Another

Bowhunting Turkeys, One Way or Another

Using a simple box call, my wife Heather, and I stood on a logging road mid-mountain. Letting out a series of yelps, we were abruptly cut off by an eager gobbler. After scrambling through thick evergreens, we broke into the most perfect clearing you could imagine. It had giant fir trees to hide behind, and a steep grassy slope with a shelf for setting up the decoys.

As soon as we sat down and nocked an arrow, I hen called. Interrupted again, the bird gobbled several times. If there’s one thing that gets hunters worked up, its vocal birds. When they talk, you know exactly where they are. Over the next 20 minutes, every time I yelped, clucked, and purred, the tom would sound off and come closer. Eventually breaking from cover, as soon as he saw our decoys, he raced in and began to strut. Heather drew, and as soon as he went broadside, she sent her Easton carbon axis on its way. One hop, a tumbled down the steep hill, and all went silent. Just like that, our many days of working birds up and down the mountain paid off!

We much prefer to cover ground and call. That said, there are a few hunting strategies that work well for bow hunters.  


No doubt, hunting from a portable pop-up blind, or even a natural blind, is the most widely used strategy for taking a gobbler with a bow. Why? Mostly because when we’re hunting with archery tackle, there is always a ‘no man’s land’, or brief time, in which we have to draw our bow. Turkeys, regardless of sub-species, are notoriously schizophrenic. Hyper-aware, their eyesight is impeccable. The slightest movements can be noticed, instantly sending them on the run. A blind simply covers much of our movements.

Hunter setting up turkey decoys in front  of a hunting blind.
Many bowhunters opt to use portable pop-up blinds, mostly because they offer excellent concealment, and turkeys usually aren’t bothered by them.

The nice thing about wild turkeys is that, most often, they don’t seem to mind the presence of a foreign inanimate object. I’ve placed pop-up blinds and called birds in immediately. I’ve also placed them days before hunting in hopes of having the birds feed and move around it without incident. Honestly, it usually doesn’t matter when you put it out, or hunt from it.

Most importantly though, when you choose the kind of blind you want to use, make sure you have plenty of room inside to draw your bow and pivot for as many shooting angles as possible. Make sure the shooting windows are the right height to accommodate shooting from a sitting position. Folding camping-style chairs with arm rests are generally more comfortable to sit in, but they can be more restrictive when it comes to moving and shifting your position. In my experience, the more rigid folding chairs with some padding can be easier to sit and pivot in.

If you don’t want to use a fully enclosed pop-up-style blind, something like the Allen Vanish Stake-Out Blind in Realtree camouflage provides a wall of cover around the bowhunter, but leaves your head and shoulders exposed.


As far as set-up is concerned, placing a jake along with two or three hens anywhere from 15-25 yards out can attract interested birds. When they come in, wait until their attention is on the decoys and ideally draw when they are fanning and turned the opposite direction.

My favorite, and probably the second most common hunt strategy is hiking to cover ground and probing with a call. Prompting a gobbler to sound off, is what every turkey hunter loves. I enjoy covering ground. While we’re doing this, its imperative to stay alert. Turkeys will often see you before you see them. If they do, its usually game over. If you do happen to see them first, use available cover like the shadows of trees, ditches, hedgerows, and even buildings to conceal your presence. If you can stalk in close, that can often make the difference. As a rule, I like to get well under 100 yards before setting up my decoys. Once you feel like you’re close enough to pressure an eager gobbler, pick a spot to place the decoys from 15 to 25 yards from a decent place to hide. This might be a big tree, tall grasses, or low-lying shrubbery. Even old farm buildings or abandoned vehicles can sometimes be used for concealment. The number one challenge is finding an area that is open enough for incoming turkeys to see the decoys, but with enough cover to hide behind. Once you’re set up as close as you dare, get to calling, remain as still as possible, watch closely, and be ready. A big old tom may be vocal, announcing his presence every now and then, but more often than not, they’ll sneak in quietly. Choose your opportunity to draw wisely, and understand anatomy to ensure a quick and efficient kill with a broadhead.

Box turkey call
Calling – whether with a box call, diaphragm call, or a slate call – is an important aspect of locating and attracting a gobbler.


Fanning involves using either a real turkey fan (tail feathers), or a commercial simile. Both can work amazingly well for attracting curious toms and jakes – particularly in the hands of someone who knows how to open, close and pivot the fan in a manner that emulates a real turkey. While I haven’t seen success fanning for henned-up gobblers, if you manage to locate a lone tom, or even a group of two or three without hens, this can be a dynamite strategy for pulling them in.

Stealth is the name of this game. Stay low, move slowly, and use the fan to hide behind as you carefully and meticulously move in on pre-occupied toms and jakes, and you’ll be surprised how close you can get. It doesn’t always work, but when it does, it’s spectacular. Fanning solo with a bow in your hand is tough. It’s cumbersome enough to hold your bow while sneaking in close, but trying to draw your bow with a fan in your hand is extremely difficult. Yes, some bow hunters do it, but its tricky. More effective is the tag-team method where one person uses a fan to attract visible gobblers, while the shooter sets up along an anticipated route that they turkeys will travel. The idea here is for the archer to ambush birds in bow range as they focus on the personal using the fan to attract them.

Hunter, Heather Wilson, holding up the turkey she harvested with her bow.
Heather Wilson took this fine longbeard at 18 yards, using her Hoyt RX-5 bow and Easton Carbon Axis arrows.

Regardless of your preferred strategy, one thing is certain. Bow hunting wild turkeys is a ton of fun. It can be both frustrating and exhilarating. When it finally comes together, there’s no feeling like putting down a gobbler with a bow.

author avatar
Kevin Wilson
Kevin is an award-winning outdoor writer for over 30 years, team member on Wild TV’s popular Bowzone Live show, and operates Alberta Hunting Adventures. He currently lives in Alberta, Canada where he shares a passion for the outdoors with his family. As a professional outfitter and guide, Kevin offers his perspective on what it takes to have a successful hunt and shares his outdoor adventures.

Leave a Comment

Buy With Confidence

  • Free Shipping

    Get FREE shipping on qualifying orders! Any order $150+ with a shipping address in the contiguous US will receive the option for free ground shipping on items sold & shipped by Pyramyd AIR during checkout. Certain restrictions apply.

    Free shipping may not be combined with a coupon unless stated otherwise.

    View Shipping Info

  • Shipping Time Frame

    We work hard to get all orders placed by 12 pm EST out the door within 24 hours on weekdays because we know how excited you are to receive your order. Weekends and holiday shipping times will vary.

    During busy holidays, we step our efforts to ship all orders as fast as possible, but you may experience an additional 1-2 day delay before your order ships. This may also happen if you change your order during processing.

    View Shipping Times

  • Shipping Restrictions

    It's important to know that due to state and local laws, there are certain restrictions for various products. It's up to you to research and comply with the laws in your state, county, and city. If you live in a state or city where air guns are treated as firearms you may be able to take advantage of our FFL special program.

    U.S. federal law requires that all airsoft guns are sold with a 1/4-inch blaze orange muzzle or an orange flash hider to avoid the guns being mistaken for firearms.

    View Shipping Restrictions

  • Expert Service and Repair

    Get the most out of your equipment when you work with the expert technicians at Pyramyd AIR. With over 25 years of combined experience, we offer a range of comprehensive in-house services tailored to kickstart your next adventure.

    If you're picking up a new air gun, our team can test and tune the equipment before it leaves the warehouse. We can even set up an optic or other equipment so you can get out shooting without the hassle. For bowhunters, our certified master bow technicians provide services such as assembly, optics zeroing, and full equipment setup, which can maximize the potential of your purchase.

    By leveraging our expertise and precision, we ensure that your equipment is finely tuned to meet your specific needs and get you ready for your outdoor pursuits. So look out for our services when shopping for something new, and let our experts help you get the most from your outdoor adventures.

    View Service Info

  • Warranty Info

    Shop and purchase with confidence knowing that all of our air guns (except airsoft) are protected by a minimum 1-year manufacturer's warranty from the date of purchase unless otherwise noted on the product page.

    A warranty is provided by each manufacturer to ensure that your product is free of defect in both materials and workmanship.

    View Warranty Details

  • Exchanges / Refunds

    Didn't get what you wanted or have a problem? We understand that sometimes things aren't right and our team is serious about resolving these issues quickly. We can often help you fix small to medium issues over the phone or email.

    If you need to return an item please read our return policy.

    Learn About Returns

Get FREE shipping on qualifying orders! Any order $150+ with a shipping address in the contiguous US will receive the option for free ground shipping on items sold & shipped by Pyramyd AIR during checkout. Certain restrictions apply.

Free shipping may not be combined with a coupon unless stated otherwise.

View Shipping Info

Text JOIN to 91256 and get $10 OFF Your Next $50+ Order!

* By providing your number above, you agree to receive recurring autodialed marketing text msgs (e.g. cart reminders) to the mobile number used at opt-in from Pyramyd AIR on 91256. Reply with birthday MM/DD/YYYY to verify legal age of 18+ in order to receive texts. Consent is not a condition of purchase. Msg frequency may vary. Msg & data rates may apply. Reply HELP for help and STOP to cancel. See Terms and Conditions & Privacy Policy.