Skip to content
Field Guide -Our Pros

Bowhunting: Turkey Hunting Tips with John Dudley

We recently talked with John Dudley about turkey hunting with a bow. While he emphasized that he’s not a turkey expert and bowhunting turkey is a different type of challenge than hunting deer with a bow, he shared some unconventional approaches to bringing home a tom each season.

John is a long-time HuntWise partner and friend. As a bowhunting expert and decorated archer, through his School of Nock, he offers insights into improving your shot, including accuracy and distance, to hit your target and bring home more game every season. 

If you’re up for the challenge, keep reading for three tips from John Dudley to get a turkey with a bow. 

A turkey hanging upside down after a turkey hunt.

1. Understanding the Mind of a Turkey

How does a turkey think? Sometimes, no matter what you do or how well you think you understand turkey behavior, turkeys just don’t cooperate. You can try every call you brought with you, swap out hen and jake decoys, and apply every skill you’ve ever learned to call in a turkey, and they just don’t respond the way you hope. 

It’s hard to know what turkeys are thinking when they don’t do what you expect them to do based on what you know. However, John Dudley says that one thing he’s found that turkeys think about every day is, “Where do I go to fly up to the roost?”

Turkeys will always roost. As a bowhunter, Dudley uses this insight to his advantage – and it works. 

What does this mean for your plans? Instead of trying to get up early and be the first on the scene to catch turkeys coming down from the roost, post up in a spot where you know they roost in the evening and wait for them to arrive. 

With an evening hunt, you can do other things with your day – including going to work – then head out for an evening hunt and bring home a tom. 

Watch how Dudley explains it in the video below. 

John Dudley explains the mind of a turkey for turkey hunting.

2. Scouting Signs

One of the most important aspects of a successful hunt – no matter the game you hunt – is doing your homework and gathering intel. With turkeys, bringing home a tom can depend on how much effort you put into looking for evidence of turkey activity before you take the field with your bow.

Looking for and identifying scouting signs of turkey activity helps you identify where they roost in the trees above. As we already mentioned, knowing where turkeys roost sets you up for a nice evening hunt that can increase your odds of an excellent shot with your bow. 

Signs of turkey roosting areas include:

While there can be other signs, if you identify these three, you’re likely in a turkey roosting area. Mark these spots in your HuntWise app so you don’t lose them after leaving the field. You can also use markers to plan the best approach back to these spots when it’s time to set up your blind for your shot. 

When you see these signs, set up your bind near these spots – without disturbing the roost. In a blind, you have room to draw back your bow where turkeys can’t see your movement. 

Use your calls to call in the turkeys where you have a clear shot, then let that arrow fly. Learn more from John in the video below!

John Dudley talks about scouting for turkey hunting.

3. Set Up Close

Again, using a bow to hunt turkey is unorthodox, but it’s a good challenge and works well with the right strategies. 

When turkey hunting with a firearm, the movement to bring it up, aim, and fire is minimal compared to raising a bow and drawing back to let an arrow fly. So, to increase your odds of a clear shot with room to draw (while minimizing the attention your drawback brings), you need to set up close to the spot you’ve identified as having good turkey activity. 

One spot to look for is a turkey “roadway” or travel corridor. These are paths turkeys follow routinely to travel between food and roosts. If you can find a place where a couple of corridors intersect, you’ve got an excellent location to set up your blind and wait for the turkey traffic to pass by. 

However, you probably don’t have time to go out and watch these pathways daily. Use a trail cam to watch for patterns and identify where turkeys travel. Then, set up your blind to the side of these corridors, and you’ll have about a ten-yard shot. 

Remember: proximity is crucial when turkey hunting with a bow! Do your research, use your HuntWise app to mark locations, and try hunting in the evening to bring home a bird using your bow. 

Learn more about what to look for in a turkey travel corridor and setting up close in this video from John below! 

John Dudley talks about setting up close for a successful turkey hunt.

Use These Tips and HuntWise When Turkey Hunting With a Bow

If you’re up for the challenge of bowhunting turkeys, we think you’ll find these tips from our friend John Dudley helpful! Not only is he a skilled bowhunter and excellent teacher, but he’s also an avid user of the HuntWise app to mark hunting areas and plan hunts with our WindCast and RutCast features. 

Whether you hunt with firearms or a bow (or both), HuntWise helps you have a more successful hunt. You can use the app to record walking paths (i.e., turkey corridors), see real-time changes in the weather, and view landowner lines and contact information – in case the tom you have your eye on wanders beyond a land boundary. 

So, before your next turkey hunt, make sure you’ve downloaded the HuntWise app and start your free trial! Apply what you’ve learned today, and happy hunting. 

Try HuntWise For Free

Start your risk-free 7-day trial now!