Get Your Gobbler with a Bow with Phillip Vanderpool
Why I Bowhunt Turkeys
Editor’s Note: Phillip Vanderpool has been hunting turkeys with a bow for the last 15 years. So far in the 2009 season he’s taken one gobbler with his bow and took four gobblers with his bow during the 2008 season. This week he’ll tell us his secrets for taking turkeys with a bow.
Question: Phillip, why did you start hunting turkeys with a bow?
Vanderpool: I’ve taken many turkeys with a shotgun before, and I’ve also enjoyedbowhunting for deer. So I thought bowhunting for turkeys would be a challenge. I also realized that I needed to get turkeys in really close, usually within 15 yards or less, if I hoped was going to take that time with a bow. When I started hunting turkeys with a bow, I saw that I learned more and understood more about how turkeys acted and reacted when they were in bow range than I could learn when they were at shotgun range. I was able to see the gobblers trying to read the decoys on several occasions. If three or four gobblers came-in, and I took one of the gobblers, I could watch as the gobblers jumped on him,never knowing that I was there. I also learned that I could hear the soft and subtle sounds that gobblers and hens made that you couldn’t hear when a turkey was at a distance of 30 yards or more.
For me, bowhunting gobblers is not all about taking them. Whether I get the shot or not, I study and learn about turkeys when they’re up-close and personal. I believe that to become a better turkey hunter, regardless of whether you take turkeys with a bow or a shotgun, the closer you can get to the birds, the more you can learn about them and the more-effective you can be the next time you hunt them. I’ve got 10 things that I think are critical ingredients for being successful when you decide to hunt turkeys with a bow.
Question: What are some of the most-important elements to taking turkeys with a bow?
Vanderpool: I prefer a bow with parallel limbs and high let-off. I believe the bow needs to have at least 80% let-off, and I shoot a 65-pound bow, so I’m holding only 13 or 15 pounds at full draw.
The second most-important element is a quality set of decoys. I think you increase your chances dramatically for getting a gobbler to come close enough to take with a bow when you use decoys. I like Delta Decoys and put them in front of the blind. Then the gobbler’s attention is on the decoys and not the blind. I like to have a hen and a jake decoy, and I’ll set my decoys 8 to 10 yards from the blind. I hope to pull the gobbler in from the side instead of straight-on. I’ll have the jake decoy facing the hen decoy, like the jake has his attention on the hen. I want to try and set the turkeys, so they’re standing broadside to the direction from which I think the gobblers will come. This way the decoys are easier for the gobblers to see.
Tomorrow: Blinds and Calls