Outdoors Magazine

Where to Shoot a Turkey with a Bow – Tips for Beginners

By Chris Noal

Shooting a turkey with a bow is tough to do. While turkeys are rather large birds, they do not have much area available for a deadly shot. In fact, the one spot where a turkey is vulnerable is softball-size. So, making this shot takes serious practice to develop the accuracy that is necessary. Otherwise, it takes luck.

Unfortunately, turkeys do not stand still for us and they do have arrows and targets pointing at the one deadly spot. If you are going to make the shot and take out the turkey, then you need to know where to shoot no matter how the turkey is standing. Whether the turkey is facing you, facing away from you, or turned to the side, there is a spot to hit.

Where to Shoot a Turkey with a Bow

Aim Lower than You Think

When people make mistakes with turkeys, they aim too high. If you look at the bird, there is not much to aim for. The vital organs on the turkey are lower than most people realize. Look for the spot where the wings attach to the body because this is where the heart is located. When hunters go for this spot, between the tops of the wings and in the meatier part of the bird, they are more likely to get a hit that will take out the bird. Aiming for this spot also puts the lungs in the crosshairs, which can be a debilitating shot, too.

Aim for the Spine

One of the most deadly shots for any turkey is one at the spine. If you can hit the spine, the bird will become paralyzed and it should die quickly. But, the best way to get this spot is to wait for the right situation. If the bird is moving, then you should wait until the bird is still. If you can wait for the bird to lift its head and face away from you, then the shot will be absolutely ideal. There is a chance that you might miss, but a low shot will injure some of the vital organs in the turkey. Whether you take out the spine or some organs, the turkey will not get up.

Shooting with the Bird Looking at You

Turkey Facing Towards

One of the hardest shots to take is also one of the most rewarding – simply because it is so challenging. If the turkey is facing you, you can have a direct shot to the heart. But, the shot will be tough. The heart will be under the neck in the middle of the spot where the wings are attached. Shooting from the back side makes the target look big, but when you aim at the front of the bird, the sweet spot can be quickly covered by the turkey lowering its ugly head.

It is possible to get the turkey to face you when you place a decoy in a clever spot. Your decoy could get your turkey to start to strut. And, while the turkey is showing off its broad chest and fanned feathers, you will actually have a larger area of space to shoot. The only negative thing about a strutting turkey is that they will bristle their feathers, which makes them cover the sweet spot with a little more defensive padding. If you can practice tough shots like this, you will have an easier time making the challenging shots because you know how to shoot with necessary power.

Aiming for the Rear

Turkey Facing Away

Another thoroughly satisfying shot is when the turkey is walking away from you. If the turkey has a fan of feathers, then you will have a clear shot that will kill. The spot is right at the point where the feathers come together at the turkey’s rear end. When you make this shot, it will take out the spine and any organs that are near the entry point of the broadhead. A really good way to open up the opportunity for this shot is to put a decoy nearby and wait for the turkey to approach it. They are certainly not the smartest beasts, so they will check out any newcomers to the neighborhood, especially if that newcomer looks like it might pose a threat.

Shooting from the Side

Shooting Turkey from the Side

If you must shoot from the side, then you should aim for the spot just above wings, at the breast of the bird. If you hit the spot just right, you will puncture the lungs and possible even get to the heart. No matter what, the bird will hurt. You do not want to aim to close to the front of the chest, because you will only hit the meat and not kill the bird. And, you do not want to aim for the feathers at the rear, because you will only hit feathers. It is best to aim for the lungs and heart, rather than the organs that are lower and closer to the back of the bird. The problem with hitting the breast meat and not the organs is that the turkey can develop an infection if it is wounded, but not killed.

Hunters know that live animals will not sit still like the decoys do. Even though you practice on still targets, it is important to remember that the turkey you are trying to kill can and will move. So, if the bird is strutting, you have to figure out where to aim by creating a horizontal line from the tucked head to the front edge of the wings. It is difficult to get a good aim when the bird is moving, but many hunters will not wait for a bird to stop. If you can get the crosshairs on a spot that will truly injure the bird, you should take the chance. It should not matter if the turkey is moving or not, because good hunters recognize that hitting a moving target is a skill hunters need to have.

Aim at the Head

The head and neck is always a good spot to hit. But since turkeys have small heads and necks, they are difficult shots to take. If you get the opportunity, your aim is on, and the turkey is still, then there is every reason to shoot the arrow. If you hit the head, the bird will die. A head shot leaves all of the meat on the bird available for processing, while a shot to the body makes some of the bird inedible.


Shooting a turkey is not an easy task, but it is one that can be learned. It is helpful to practice on decoys so you know where to shoot and how to get the shot in the deadly spots. Because turkey hunting with a bow is so challenging, making the shot is extremely rewarding. But, the best part is being able to enjoy eating the turkey that you shot.

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