Illustration by Jason Schneider
Waiting in a popup blind is a fine way to kill a gobbler with a bow. It’s also really boring. To get the most out of the hunt, you should maneuver and strategize. Ask Cally Morris. A world-champion turkey taxidermist, Morris has killed more than 50 gobblers with a bow–and no blind. His secret? A three-bird spread of realistic decoys. Here’s his plan.
Photo by Gorman Studio
A lack of a blind gives you mobility to go where the turkeys want to be. That might be the edge of the hayfield where you saw a gobbler strutting, or 100 yards from a bird hammering in the timber. While this tactic gives you the freedom to run-and-gun, you will be packing some decoys. Morris uses three: a full-strut tom, a breeder hen, and an upright hen. The strutter and breeder are set quartering slightly away from you at 15 to 17 yards. The upright hen is off to the side of them, no farther than 20 yards. The key is to leave enough space–about 3 yards–between each decoy for the gobbler to strut. “They’ll rarely commit to the spread otherwise,” Morris says.
Find a large tree and clear a spot free of leaves and branches. Right-handed shooters should sit with their left shoulder and hip resting against the trunk, feet shoulder-width apart, left boot pointed at the strutter decoy. Stake a few leafed-out limbs in front of you, on your left side, to mask your draw. Lay a camo bandanna on the ground between your knees so you can rest your bow’s bottom cam on it and keep an arrow pointed at the spread. This is all an effort to minimize motion. A 32-inch or shorter bow helps. You’ll need to either have a buddy call for you or be skilled enough with a mouth call to bring a gobbler close.
Once the tom is in range, shut up and let the decoys work. You might watch him for several minutes before getting your chance to draw. “Seventy-five percent of your shots will happen when the gobbler circles the strutter to size it up and either turns his fan to you or gets his head behind the decoy’s fan,” Morris says. “Some toms will go straight for the hens and try to breed them. That’s fine, too. If he’s getting it on with the decoy, he’s not watching you draw.” Aim for the gobbler’s thigh, which hits the vital organs and breaks the legs so the bird can’t fly. A turkey hit there with any broadhead, especially a wide-cutting mechanical, will be dead in seconds.