Decoy Placement for Bowhunting Turkeys: Keep Them Close!

One key to success in bowhunting turkeys is to place your lifelike decoys at only 5 to 7 yards.

Decoy Placement for Bowhunting Turkeys: Keep Them Close!

After a couple decades of bowhunting turkeys, the one bit of advice I give to any beginner is to keep your decoys close, 5 to 7 yards is perfect. 

Regardless of whether you prefer body shots or head/neck shots on wild turkeys, the vitals are small, and turkeys don’t stand still for long — if at all. Your chance of making a poor hit on a turkey goes up dramatically as you increase shot distance. 

With a pop-up blind to hide your movement, you can draw your bow on a point-blank bird and not be busted. That said, with decoys set at 5 to 7 yards, I prefer to draw when a tom or jake is 12 to 15 yards away, has committed to the decoys, and is steadily walking toward my ambush. This allows me to take my time, calmly find my anchor point, then take a deep breath. When the tom is a few yards from the decoys, I’ve already settled my fiber-optic pin on his vitals, slowly tracking him. As soon as he pauses, I release the string.

Waiting too long to draw — for example, waiting for a tom to engage the decoys — is a recipe for disaster in my opinion. Too many times I’ve seen toms get into fighting (or breeding) mode after they get in tight, and then you have a moving target. Not good.

Keep your decoys at 5 to 7 yards, draw when a tom is 12 to 15 yards out, aim, relax (take a deep breath) and then hammer him as soon as he pauses near your decoys.

In the author’s opinion, this bowhunter should have released the arrow a split-second before the left photo was taken. As you can see in the right photo, it doesn’t take long for the scene to turn into a rodeo.
In the author’s opinion, this bowhunter should have released the arrow a split-second before the left photo was taken. As you can see in the right photo, it doesn’t take long for the scene to turn into a rodeo.

Photos courtesy of Dave Smith Decoys

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