Bowhunters have utilized turkey feathers for decades, and many (mainly traditional bowhunters) continue to use this natural resource for a number of things. Most commonly, wild turkey feathers are used for feather fletchings on arrows. Some choose to use the feathers in their natural coloring, and some will dye the feathers different colors so they are easier to spot.
Although not quite as well known by modern day hunters, turkey feather rests have been around for many years and are still one of the best arrow rests a traditional bowhunter can have on their bow.
Feather rests, or a feathered shelf as some folks tend to call them, became popular when Bear Archery first started using them on their bows in 1959. However, the feather rest is a time-tested tool for improving arrow flight and accuracy. For many decades, bowhunters and archers would take leftover fletchings to make feather arrow rests. This wasn't simply an economical solution as they are effective tools for improving your accuracy. With natural give, they allow for bows to tune more easily, and provide cleaner arrow flight.
The famous 1959 Bear Kodiak Recurve is still being replicated and sports the classic black and white feather rest that was made over 50 years ago. These rests are also available at just about every traditional archery supplier out there for a very affordable price.
The feather rest is mounted tight to the strike plate with quills pointing away from the shooter. They stand between 1/4" and 3/8" tall, and are slightly slanted towards the riser wall to help keep the arrow in place without having to hold your bow at too much of an angle. They are mounted on a flexible base, backed with adhesive and are extremely easy and quick to install.
While many traditional bows will simply come with a “rug rest” or felt lined shelf, there are several advantages to shooting a bow with a feather rest on it. Number one is the durability of the rest itself.
Many hunters are quick to question the durability as feathers seem rather delicate and fragile. However, turkey feather rests are made of the best wing feathers from one of the toughest birds to ever walk on this planet. Wild turkeys are just plain tough and their feathers act as their shield against the elements. They live outside in the rain, sleet, snow, and wind as well as the blistering heat. They must be able to avoid predators in all types of conditions and be able to get airborne with those wet feathers at a moment’s notice. Rain doesn’t affect feather rests, and the rests don’t need any treatment to protect them from rain or continuous shooting.
One of the greatest things from an archer’s perspective, is they are much less abrasive to arrow fletching than Velcro or rug rests. The fraying of fletching is minimal even after hundreds of shots, keeping your arrows and your reset in the best condition for the longest period.
Whether you are a beginner archer, or someone who has bowhunted for many years, a turkey feather rest is a classic that should not be ignored by any traditional bowhunter. Invest in one or take the time to learn how to make them; you will not be disappointed with the outcome.