Body-Shot Arrow Placement on Wild Turkeys

Unless you choose broadheads designed for head and neck shots on wild turkeys, you must have an excellent understanding of your quarry’s anatomy to be successful with body shots.

Body-Shot Arrow Placement on Wild Turkeys

Photo/illustration courtesy of Mathews Inc.

Each spring bowhunters debate the pros and cons of aiming for a wild turkey’s head/neck vs. trying to place an arrow in the heart/lung area. For the former, you’ll choose a specialized fixed-blade broadhead such as the Magnus Bullhead or Solid Turkey D-Cap. For the latter, you can simply use your broadhead of choice for whitetails, or perhaps a mechanical like the Rage Turkey X-treme that opens very wide upon impact.

I’ve killed many turkeys with both types, and while I prefer head and neck shots when possible, I understand that many bowhunters don’t want to purchase the specialized arrows and broadheads needed for noggin shots. If you sit on the body shots side of the fence, then it’s critical that you know exactly where to aim on a wild turkey. 

In thinking about this topic, I was reminded of a great article I read a few years ago on the Mathews Inc. website. You can read “Turkey Shot Placement” from the Mathews staff by clicking here

The article contains many outstanding photos of wild turkeys in various positions with the vitals illustrated clearly on top the pics. The only constructive criticism I have about the article is in the tagline that states: “A turkey’s vitals are no bigger than an oversized softball, so shot placement is everything.”

I’ve cleaned plenty of turkeys, and I’ve never seen one with a heart/lung area as big as an oversized softball. Perhaps the author was including a turkey’s stomach and liver in the mix to come up with this size comparison, but I don’t consider those vitals. Other articles I’ve read say that a wild turkey’s vitals are the size of a baseball. That sounds about right to me. 

The video below from Hoyt Archery’s YouTube page (made by Gone Wild Outdoors) is a decade old, but the info about shot placement on wild turkeys is as good today as the day it was posted on YouTube. Check it out for an excellent discussion of body shots and head shots. (The music is a bit annoying IMO, so be ready to turn down the volume when the host isn’t talking.)

  As a rule, when bowhunters fail to kill turkeys with body shots, it’s because their arrow hit too low. There’s even a popular saying: Hit him high and watch him die; hit him low and watch him fly.


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