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Where to Shoot a Turkey With a Bow for a Clean Shot

WriterAubrey McShan
12 min read
A hunter dressed in full camo holds a compound bow in the woods

Ready to take your turkey hunting skills to the next level? You’ll need to know where to shoot a turkey with a bow first! Mastering the art of shooting a turkey with a bow requires precision and careful consideration to maximize your success.

In this guide, we’ll provide valuable insights into the ideal shot placement. Keep reading to not only increase your chances of a clean kill but also to maximize the yield of meat.

Key Takeaways

Where to Shoot a Turkey With a Bow? (Simple Method)

In general, aim for the heart and lungs when a turkey struts toward or away from you. They are centrally located above where the turkey's legs meet the body. If the turkey is broadside (wing facing you), target just behind the wing connection.

Targets indicate where to shoot a turkey when it’s facing broadside, strutting broadside, strutting forward, and strutting away.
  • Shoot a turkey broadside: You should aim for the heart and lungs, which are located just behind where the wing connects to the body.
  • Shoot a turkey facing you: Your best bet is to aim for the center of the chest (above the beard) where the neck meets the body, targeting the vital organs.
  • Shoot a turkey strutting away: The ideal shot placement would be the vent or the center of its back to target the vital organs.
  • Shoot a turkey strutting forward: Aim for the spot where the leg and beard intersect, piercing the spine and vital organs.
  • Shoot a turkey in the head: Although difficult, this shot provides an instant kill. Aim for the base of the neck where it meets the body.

Bow Hunting Turkey (Precise Shot Placement)

Shooting a wild turkey with a bow requires precision and knowledge of the bird’s general anatomy. Always aim for lethal, quick-kill shots to ensure a humane hunt. Discover the various shot placements and their effectiveness:

Turkey Bow Hunting: Shot Placement Guide
Shot Placement Body Area Instruction Pros Cons Suitable Range Difficulty
Shoot a Turkey Broadside Heart, Lung Aim slightly behind the turkey’s wings where it joins the body. Likely to be lethal with a good shot. Larger target area than the head or neck. If the shot is off-target, the bird may escape and/or suffer. 20-25 yards Moderate
Shoot a Turkey Straight on Heart, Lung Aim above the beard. You won’t need to take a follow-up shot if successful. Turkeys can be erratic, so this may be a challenging shot. You’ll also need to draw it in close, which can be time-consuming. 10-15 yards High
Shoot a Turkey Strutting Away Spine, Lung Aim for the middle of the back, along the spine. Can paralyze the bird, allowing for a follow-up shot. Not usually an immediate kill. Potential for birds to suffer. 20-30 yards High
Shoot a Turkey Strutting Forward Spine, Heart, Lung Shoot where the turkey’s leg and beard intersect. Can immobilize the bird, leading to a quicker retrieval. A hard target to hit, especially if the bird is moving. 20-30 yards High
Shooting a Turkey in the Head Head, Neck Aim for the head or upper neck. Immediate, humane kill if successful. No damage to body meat. Small target area. High chance of missing, especially with a bow. 10-20 yards Highest
Note: The distances and difficulties shown in this table vary based on individual skill, type of bow, and other specific conditions (like weather, environment, etc.).

Shooting a Turkey Broadside With a Bow

Diagram showcases what it means to shoot a turkey broadside.

When shooting a turkey broadside, target the area behind the turkey's wings where they join the body. This is where the lungs and heart are located.

  • Aim for behind the turkey’s 'shoulder' region.
  • Be prepared for a follow-up shot if the initial shot doesn't result in an immediate kill.
  • It is possible to break the wing or hit the spine, so take that into consideration when aiming.
  • If the turkey is in a strut, look for a dark triangle where the neck and chest meet the wing. Aim approximately an inch back toward the body from that point and take your shot.

Shooting a Turkey Straight On With a Bow

 Diagram showcases where to shoot a turkey head-on.

When shooting a turkey from the front, aim right above its beard and below its neck to target the vital area.

  • Shooting a turkey from the front is generally not considered an ideal shot due to the risk of hitting non-vital areas.
  • Before taking the shot, ensure that the tom is not in a strutting position. This can affect the shot placement.
  • If you're using a turkey decoy, it's more likely that you'll have to shoot the turkey straight on. However, your decoy may attract other hunters, so exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings.

Shooting a Turkey Quartering Away From You With a Bow

Diagram showcases where to shoot a turkey that’s facing away.

When a turkey is quartering away from you, aim for the middle of its back to target the vital area and break the tom's spine.

  • Ensure that the turkey's head is up and not down, and it is not in a strutting position before taking the shot.
  • Another option is to shoot an arrow up its vent (located beneath the tail and between a turkey’s legs). This shot will penetrate through the chest cavity.
  • It's important to practice proper shot placement and have a clear understanding of the turkey's anatomy and vitals to ensure an ethical shot.

Shooting a Turkey Quartering Toward You With a Bow

 Diagram showcases where to shoot a turkey that’s facing toward you.

When a turkey is quartering toward you, use the turkey's leg and beard (the black, hair-like strands on its chest) to create two parallel lines. Aim for the point where those lines meet to target the vitals.

  • Shooting a turkey that is quartering toward you is not an ideal shot. The vital organs may be partially covered or protected by the turkey's body.
  • Ensure that the turkey's head is up and not in a strutting position before taking the shot.
  • Always prioritize an ethical and clean kill, and be prepared for a follow-up shot if needed.
 Diagram showcases where to shoot a turkey in its head/neck area.

Shooting a turkey in the head is a difficult shot and requires patience and precision. You’ll want to aim for the area where the head connects to the neck for a clean and effective shot.

  • Wait for the turkey to stretch its neck. This provides you with a clear and optimal target.
  • Use turkey calls to help lure the turkey closer to increase the chances of a successful kill.

Turkey Vitals for Bow Hunting

Before hunting a turkey with a bow, you should understand the locations of its vital organs for a successful and ethical hunt:

 A diagram of a broadside-facing turkey that reveals its anatomy, including its heart and lungs.
  • Turkey Heart & Lungs: A turkey’s heart and lungs are situated directly behind its wings — approximately the size of a baseball. When aiming your shot, target this area for the most effective and humane method of hunting turkeys.
  • Turkey Neck: Shooting the turkey's neck can be challenging. If you aim for the spinal column, you’ll have an effective and quick kill. Draw the turkey in closer than usual for this type of shot.
  • Turkey Head: Shooting a turkey in the head can be tricky. It’s roughly the size of a ping-pong ball. Wait until the turkey is stationary before you release your bow.

Tips to Know When Bow Hunting Turkey

  • Practice Patience: Maintain composure, focus on your target, and draw them in close. Stay calm and move slowly, especially if you’re using a blind.
  • Don’t Chase a Turkey After You Shoot: After shooting the turkey, don’t immediately pursue it. You might startle it, prompting it to run away. Give the turkey time and rest assured that it won’t travel far.
  • Use a Ground Blind: Hunting blinds provide camouflage so the turkey can’t see you. If possible, leave the blind up for a few weeks before the hunting season begins so the turkeys get used to seeing it in the area.
  • Use Turkey Calls: Turkey calls resemble the sound hens make when they’re ready to breed. Realistic turkey calls can draw gobblers, which increases your chances of a successful hunt.
  • Use a Rangefinder: Rangefinders are useful when turkey bow hunting. They estimate distances to help improve your accuracy and help you to set up your shot.

Have Fun Out There!

Ready to hunt down turkeys? After patiently luring turkeys close to your position, you'll want the ideal archery bow to ensure a successful kill. At Academy, we offer a diverse range of top-quality archery bows for you to explore. Start browsing today and experience the thrill of making your first turkey harvest of the season!