Blind Strategies For Bowhunting Spring Turkeys

The hen came slinking back across the plowed field toward the blind, apparently changing her mind about leaving along with the dominant tom and his harem. Fortunately, she had company. Two silent jakes walked out of the woods behind her and stared at my jake decoy, which sat about 12 paces from my Double Bull blind.

The jakes lost their fascination with following the hen and walked right in to meet their new buddy. I drew my longbow and shot at the biggest one. It is amazing how easy it is to miss a turkey with the bow! At the instant I released, the jake decided to bend down and grab something off the ground. The arrow sailed just over his back. Sensing something wasn’t quite right, he and his pal started walking away, but not before my second arrow caught up with him at 20 yards and put him down for good.

He wasn’t the huge tom all turkey hunters hope for, but there is quite a rush from taking your spring gobbler with a bow!

Pop-Up Blinds Ease Hunting

Pop-up blinds have made bowhunting for turkeys much more feasible than it ever was without one, especially for folks like me who shoot a traditional bow.

The author sets up a decoy in front of his blind.

Turkeys totally ignore a camouflage blind. A hunter inside one of these tents can stand on his head wearing a clown costume and it won’t spook the bird. I’ve even had hens try and walk through the fabric and get inside! These blinds make drawing the bow on a wary tom possible.

The trouble is you need to know where to put the blind in the right place to score. A blind and a decent set of decoys are a lot to carry in the woods. And you can’t really “run and gun” with a blind. It takes time to set the rig up, so the blind has to be put in place in advance of calling.

The best setup for the blind is to get it out there in the dark and call to a tom that is on the roost. This takes knowledge of the habits of individual toms, and an idea of where they head to when they fly down off of the roost. It is further complicated if the tom already has a harem of hens with him, as they will typically lead him in the opposite direction of any other hen calls.

I like to put my daybreak blind setup just off of a roost on an area where the turkeys strut. If it is early in the season and the foliage is short, this can be just about anywhere. As the season progresses and the fields grow up high, the grass is full of dew and the turkeys avoid them early in the morning. Plowed fields or large openings in the woods are the best bet to catch a strutting turkey at this time.

Setting up on these strutting zones produces the most action for me during the season.

Patience Is Needed

Everyone has trouble hunting toms that are “henned up” — even the pros. If you start calling to one of these birds his harem will lead him away. What most people do not have in situations like this is patience. Just because the big dude has all the girls doesn’t mean the rest of the toms won’t show up, they simply don’t talk much on the way in. My bowhunts from the blind have taught me to stay put for at least an hour or more in every setup.

Lesser toms often sneak in to the area to check out the hen calls on the sly. These birds have usually been beat up by a bigger tom, but they will still come and may provide a shot for a bowhunter who has the patience to wait.

If the early morning setup fails, there is still plenty of opportunity left during the day. The alpha toms breed their hens first thing in the morning and they are often wandering around looking for additional company later in the morning. For my second setup in the late morning, I like to get up higher than where I expect the birds to be and call loudly. Again, toms will either come in gobbling or totally silent depending on their place in the pecking order.

In my state, afternoon hunts are not possible. Were I to live where I could hunt spring toms in the afternoon my strategy would be similar to what I use in the fall. During that time of the year, I setup between feeding areas and roosting areas trying to catch the turkeys on their way back up to the roost. The only calling should be light clucking and feeding calls to get the flock to swing by the blind on the way to the roost.

The author and his spring gobbler.

Try A Decoy

Depending on the laws in your particular state, using a jake decoy is a great asset for bowhunting spring turkeys. A jake is the high school freshman of the turkey world. The other young “punks” all want to hang out together. Jakes will walk right up to it. Older toms want to pound the snot out of it, and even if they are not the dominant bird they are going to try and intimidate it. Dominant birds will walk up and attack it.

A jake decoy will often draw toms that will hang up out of range if you are only using hen decoys. Of course, safety precautions are a must when using a decoy that looks like a legal spring bird to a gun hunter.

Bowhunting for spring turkeys from a portable blind is a rush when it all comes together. It’s just a matter of being in the right place and showing the birds what they want to see.

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