with Kevin Burleson
Editor’s Note: Kevin Burleson, near Brody, Texas, who operates the Heart of Texas Bowhunting ranch, offers Rio Grande turkey hunting in the spring for both bowhunters and shotgun hunters. Mossy Oak wanted to know what makes Rio Grande turkeys different from Eastern gobblers, and what hunting these birds is like. Burleson, a Mossy Oak and PSE Pro Staffer, appears on the “Mossy Oak Deer Thugs” TV show on the Pursuit Channel.
Taking a turkey with a bow in our area of Texas is extremely difficult, especially if you don’t want to use a ground blind. However, if you’re hunting from a ground blind with your bow, the best place to aim on a broadside gobbler is at the top of his thighs. If the bird is facing you, shoot for the middle of the beard. If the turkey is facing away from you with his tail feathers spread, shoot for the anus. The kill zone on a turkey is very small. If you aim for the spots that we recommend, that arrow will get to that kill zone.
We do have some customers who want to shoot a turkey in the head or neck with a Guillotine type of broadhead, but I don’t really like that kind of hunt. Yes, you can take a turkey like that, especially if you’re a seasoned bowhunter and have taken turkeys before. But for most bowhunters, the broadside thigh shot will let your broadhead pass through the middle of the turkey’s internal organs. At the same time, you take the turkey’s running and hopping gear out. When you hit a gobbler at the top of the thighs, that bird isn’t going anywhere. If the turkey is facing away from you and doesn’t have his fan up, we recommend shooting in the middle or the lower back. This too will break the bird down. If a turkey has his fan up, and you’re shooting for the anus, once again your broadhead will pass through the kill zone of the turkey.
Many hunters believe a turkey’s lungs are near the front or the breastbone of the bird. That’s just not true. The turkey’s lungs and internal organs are toward the rear of the bird. If the turkey is facing you and you have to shoot for the middle of the beard, you should be able to drive that broadhead all the way through the turkey and get into his vital organs closer to the back of the bird. However, most hunters won’t take that shot. They know the broadhead will cut off a good portion of the bird’s beard, so an 8-inch beard may end up looking like a 4-inch beard. The beard and spurs are the two prize trophies on a gobbler, so most bowhunters will wait for one of the other shots I’ve described.