4 Fundamentals for Bow Hunting Food Plots

Early Season Bow Plot Strategies

If you’re obsessed with bow hunting, we know you like a challenge. After all, hunting with a bow is much harder than hunting with a firearm – you need the animals much closer and more can go wrong with an arrow’s trajectory than a bullet/slug. But if you have private land and can plant early season food plots, you can make your life just a little easier (without totally giving up the challenge)Early season whitetails can definitely be very predictable, but they can also be very frustrating when they don’t play the game. That means early season bow hunting can fluctuate a lot depending on the weather conditions, hunting pressure, and natural habitats. By planting a few bow hunting food plots, you can bring deer in right where you need them and increase the chance of filling your tag. Here are four things that you need to consider for planting early season food plots.

Video: TJ Unger is plotting for the season. A new bow hunting plot has him excited as the 2018 deer season approaches. With a hit-list buck in the area, and a new fully thought out kill plot in the works, TJ might have just aligned his assets right for a successful year in Indiana! 

1. Early Season Attraction

If you’re primarily bow hunting in the early season, your deer plots obviously need to be most attractive in the early season, right? It’s surprising how many people miss that fact. You can control that aspect a few different ways.

Food Plot Seeds and Time of Year

You definitely need to make sure you plant the right species/seeds in an early season food plot. For example, if you planted corn or beans in the middle of the summer, thinking they would be prime for an early season hunt, you might find that a bad summer drought wipes your plot out before you can hunt it. Similarly, planting cereal grains too early in the year may mean you have dry grasses in your plot, which aren’t very attractive to deer. Here are a few seeds and strategies that can be very effective for early season food plots.

 PHOTO: The Virtue TV 

  • Clover/Chicory – planted in the prior fall, perennial clover and chicory plots are a good drought-resistant and browse-tolerant combination to attract deer. Annual clovers planted in late summer are very attractive to deer by the early season time period as they are young and full of nutrients. 
  • Brassicas/Turnips – depending on where you hunt, brassica and turnip seeds can be extremely attractive to deer. The young green tops are greedily eaten and deer may even crunch a small bulb or two if the plants get large enough by the early season. As far as when to plant turnip seeds and brassica seeds, mid-summer plantings work well if timed before a rain event or in lower areas that stay a little bit wet throughout the summer. 
  • Cereal grains – wheat, oats, and rye can all be very attractive in early season food plots. If planted before a rain event, they should germinate and grow quickly, and they are very nutritious and sought after when they reach six to eight inches in height. 
  • Soybeans/Peas – this is an odd one, but hear us out. If you don’t care about producing mature plants with beans/pods on them, young beans and peas are very sweet and attract deer like crazy – until they are browsed out, which will happen quickly with large deer herds and small bow hunting kill plots. Be ready to hunt when these plants are a few inches tall! 
  • Combination plantings – the best food plots for deer may combine all of these plants in a single plot. The higher-growing plants can act as a nurse crop and protect the lower-growing ones until they get established. Plus, planting several species in one plot helps increase the odds of attracting deer if one of the seeds fails.

2. Deer Travel Strategy

If you build it, they will come, right? That’s not always the case, unfortunately. For maximum attraction and a better chance of encountering a mature buck, food plot placement is critical.

  • Location – try to locate your bow kill plot along natural deer traffic routes. Find a spot between a destination feeding field/large food plot and a bedding area. Deer will naturally take trails between them, so plant your early season food plots somewhere to intercept them. Small food plots in the woods can be dynamite in the early season. 
  • Staging areas – just off of larger fields (50 yards or so), try planting small kill plots. Deer (especially mature bucks) tend to stage up in these areas during daylight hours prior to entering larger fields. 
  • Size – when you’re bow hunting, you don’t want to be sitting on a 5 acre field – it’s hard to shoot across that distance. Make your hunting food plots around a tenth of an acre so you can shoot from one side to the other. Smaller plots will also make deer more comfortable to enter it during daylight hours.

3. Shooting Opportunities

The danger with smaller food plots is that deer can sneak up on you, feed, and be gone before you have a chance to grab your bow, get in position, and take a shot. Here are a few ways you can try to maximize the time that deer spend in these small bow hunting plots, simply by distracting them or increasing the attraction.

  • Distraction – by scratching out a mock scrape, sinking a sapling tree trunk (i.e., rubbing pole) into the ground, or hanging a licking branch on the edge of your early season food plots, you can keep deer interested and occupied a little longer. While they’re focused on the distraction, you can move into position and watch your lighted nocks disappear behind their shoulder. 
  • Waterholes – if you’re located in a relatively dry area, waterholes for deer can be particularly attractive in the hot early season weather. Sink a small basin or tub into the ground and try to keep it filled as often as possible. Before and after eating, deer will likely stop to get a drink, which can allow you to take a shot. 
  • Other food – if you have any apple, persimmon, pear, or oak trees on your property, try planting small food plots adjacent to them. Many of these trees produce soft or hard mast precisely when the early hunting season starts. And when these trees produce, deer will hit them hard, often ignoring other food sources temporarily. It will help buy you some time for a shot, and it’s also added insurance that deer will still come there even if the plots fail.

4. Tree Stand Access

Of course, if you can’t stealthily access your tree stand consistently, even the best early season food plots will fail you. Here are some ways you can improve the access to the stand sites and plots on your bow hunting property.

  • Screened access – you can use existing vegetation (e.g., thickly growing spruces, dense brush, hinge-cut trees, etc.) to hide your access trail by planting food plots on the other side of the direction you approach. Or you can plant your own seasonal screen using tall sorghum grass species or Egyptian wheat. 
  • Play the wind – make sure your plot is located upwind from your stand site and access trail so deer wouldn’t normally smell you while approaching or sitting in your stand. 
  • Access trail – before hunting season, take some time to clear the vegetation away from your access trail so that you won’t spook deer in the area on your way in. You may even want to rake the debris off of it. Take your time walking in and use binoculars to scan your food plot as you approach to make sure you don’t bump a mature buck off of it.

This season, try a few of these methods out to increase the attraction of the early season food plots on your hunting property. If you have existing food plots, try tweaking them a bit to adopt a few of these strategies. And if you’re planting brand new food plots, take these design and placement considerations seriously. Under the best early season hunting conditions, you might not need all this help. But under the worst conditions and luck, it’s nice to have an ace in the hole.

Summer Practice Boredom Busters | Add Realism to Your Sessions 

Realistic Summer Bow Practice

A 95 degree day, dogs barking through the neighborhood fences, cicadas supplying an intense background noise, and a sweaty grip on your bow release…sound familiar? This is an all too familiar chain of events to most bow hunters during summer bow practice. The hot, humid, and repetitive shooting in the backyard can get boring. Even more, it can prove pointless if it achieves this level of boredom. Yes, it is good to fling a few arrows every afternoon, but you should set some goals to accomplish and challenge yourself with realistic scenarios. This will build confidence in your abilities, provide relief from the boredom, and take your mind off of being in your backyard and not in the stand.

Practice at Longer Distances

One of the most obvious boredom busters for summer bow practice is chancing longer distance shots. Sure as an ethical bow hunter you should have limitations as to how far you would shoot at a deer. A lot of different factors go into play here. How far you can effectively shoot on the range, how the deer is acting or whether or not they will jump the string, and open vs. tight terrain/habitat is just some things that should be considered when taking a shot.

When on the range or in the backyard it is great to practice at distances you feel comfortable shooting a deer at and closer. But, you should also be proficient at shooting at longer distances even if you would not shoot at a deer at that distance. Besides that, it’s rewarding to hit that 1 inch square from 70+ yards…

For example, if you would never shoot at a deer past 30 yards, get to where you can consistently hit the target out to 50 or 60 yards, or more. The reason for this is it is a great confidence builder. If you can hit your target at 55-yards, you won’t even feel the pressure at 30.

Another reason to shoot at longer distances is to criticize your shooting ability. If there is anything about your form or follow-through that is off, you will notice it at 60 yards. When you are able to notice something you are able to fix it.

PHOTO | Flatline Whitetails

Realistic Practice Sessions

Summer bow practice attire is usually shorts, flip flops, and a white tee-shirt. This is not challenging or realistic…it’s boring! Try being realistic with your shooting! At the very least you should have on pants, long sleeve shirt, and maybe gloves and a face mask. As the season progresses the more clothing you will have on to stay warm and often times this clothing is very bulky.

Once you are confident in your abilities to hit your target in your summer outfit, try doing it in the actual clothing you will be wearing while hunting. It might be a little hot to be in these clothes but you are likely to notice some differences while shooting in your hunting gear.

You might find it is more difficult to pull your bow back with a lot of clothing on, you might not have the same line of sight or your string could rub against your clothing. Now is the time to be certain that you are just as proficient at shooting with your hunting gear on as you are in your summer wear. If you realize changes need to be made it is better to do them now rather than when a monster buck is just mere yards away.

PHOTO | Reagan Bryan

Realistic Shots and Angles

Just because you are hitting the bullseye from the ground consistently doesn’t mean that everything will be the same when you are shooting at a downward angle from a treestand or sitting within a ground blind. Do you know how to handle a 90 degree angle shot?

Some of your practice should be from realistic hunting scenarios. If you do not have an archery range with an elevated platform, consider hanging a tree stand and shooting from the elevated position. Doing this a few times throughout the summer and consistently hitting the target will build confidence in your shooting and when the moment of truth arrives this fall you will feel comfortable in your abilities to hit your target. Practice shooting from the sitting position, standing, twisting and so on. If you can imagine it happening while hunting, practice it now.

PHOTO | The Virtue TV

The same holds true if you hunt out of a ground blind. Set up the same ground blind that you hunt out of and practice. Shooting while sitting down might make you realize some changes need to be made as to how your body is angled.

Better Archery Targets

The best practice for a bowhunter is shooting on a 3-D course, not to mention it is much more enjoyable than backyard practice. Today’s 3-D targets and courses are lifelike and provide realistic practice sessions.Distances vary from very close to uncomfortably far. The terrain is also challenging and often similar to hunting.

Concentrate on Just Making a Few Good Shots

It might sound as if in order to be a proficient shooter that you need to shoot a lot of arrows every day. That is not true. You are better off going out and shooting just a few arrows every day if possible and concentrating on your form and making the best shot possible. This puts pressure on you for each shot, and shortens your practice session.

Long practice sessions tend to tire out the hunter and before you know it your shots are getting sloppy and you are wanting to make changes to your setup because your groupings are not as good as you would like. By shooting just a few arrows and putting everything you have into those few shots you will be better for it. And, always quit on a good shot so you are not second-guessing yourself and thinking of changes that you need to make. Everybody makes a bad shot from time to time.

Conclusion

Getting bored from summer bow practice? Becoming more involved in practicing realistic scenarios, shots, distances, and even shooting at more realistic targets can all bust the boredom!

 

How to Install Nock Out® Lighted Nocks

Installing Lighted Nocks | Nock Out® Contender Nocks

Nock Out® lighted nocks has developed an impressive lighted nock for compound shooters that is durable and accurate while being simple and easy to use. The Contender vertical lighted nocks fit X,H,S/GT shafts with the included universal bushing kit contained in each package, making them the perfect fit no matter what size arrow shaft is in your archery setup.

Nock Out® includes the needed bushings to make the Contender lighted nocks truly a universal fit for any arrow in the industry from 5mm all the way up to 6.5mm shafts. Installing the nocks at home is an easy process that requires few tools. Some items you will want to have on hand include bowstring wax, a pair of needle nose pliers, and possibly a universal nock tool for inserting and indexing nocks. Organize your arrow shafts, tools, and Contender nocks on a clean level work surface, and follow these few steps to smoothly install your new Contender lighted nocks by Nock Out.

Lancaster Archery Supply – Lighted Nock Contender Install

Steps to Proper Lighted Nock Setup

  • Remove the orange C clamp located midway on the nock body with needle nose pliers. This clip is used strictly for packaging purposes.
  • Identify the arrow shaft size and the appropriate bushing for your arrow shaft.
    • Contender nocks fit 5mm or X shafts directly from the package with no bushing required.
    • 6mm (H) and 6.5mm (S/GT) shafts require the use of the included appropriate bushing.
  • For 5mm or X shafts at .204” ID the Contender Nocks are ready to install after the removal of the orange C clamp. Simply apply a liberal amount of bowstring wax to the lower nock body and insert the nock into the shaft. Take care to index the nock to the arrow fletching according to your arrow rest. Never force your Contender Nocks into the shaft by forcing the nock and shaft down onto a hard surface without a nock tool.
  • When installing the Nock Out® Contender nocks into 6mm (H) or 6.5mm (S/GT) arrow shafts, first remove the orange C clip on the lower nock body. Identify the appropriate bushing for your arrow shaft from the packaging. Insert the nock into the bushing before pushing the bushing into the arrow shaft. After installing the nock into the appropriate bushing with the orange C clip removed, apply liberal bowstring wax to the exterior of the bushing and insert into your arrow shaft. Take care to index the nock to the arrow fletching according to your arrow rest. Again, never force your Contender Nocks into the arrow shaft by forcing the nock and shaft down onto a hard surface without a nock tool.
  • Key takeaways to installing the Contender lighted nocks are to be sure and utilize bowstring wax on the nock body during installation, do not force the nock into the arrow shaft by pressing the nock down onto a hard surface, and remember to index the nock according to your arrow’s fletching and bow rest.

The Contender lighted nocks are activated by string pressure at the shot. During the installation process it is easy to pull back on an installed nock that has been activated to turn off the illumination. Be sure your lighted nocks are not activated when you finish the installation process to conserve battery life.

Understanding the Momentum and Kinetic Energy of Arrows

Does Knowing the Kinetic Energy of Hunting Arrows Help?

Bow hunting is one of those interesting passions/hobbies that takes a blend of science and art to do it well. You need to have a well-functioning and properly tuned bow setup to shoot consistently. But you also need to have the practice and time afield (we’ll call that the ‘art’ component) to shoot well. When most bow hunters think about improving an arrow’s “punch,” they usually focus solely on the speed of their bows. But there’s a lot more to it than just that. Did you know that the momentum and kinetic energy of arrows actually also influence the knockdown power they have? Have you even heard those terms before? And if you have, do you know how to influence them so your arrows can be as deadly as possible? In this post, we’ll walk you through how you can change your setup for any wild game species you want to pursue.

Basic Concepts of Momentum and Kinetic Energy of Arrows

As we mentioned, most people are obsessed with arrow speed for deer hunting – the never-ending pursuit for more feet per second (fps) – or adjusting the weight (in grains) of their arrows, which includes their broadheads and nocks. Some people also go beyond that to focus on their arrow FOC (front of center), which is essentially a measure of how much of the weight of an arrow is located in the front (i.e., broadhead). This affects the arrow trajectory and penetration power. But if you want to really dial in your arrows, you need to grapple with two new concepts: arrow momentum and kinetic energy. Though they are often confused, they are separate things.

Picture: Backwoods Life

Momentum of Arrows

The basic definition of momentum is the force required to stop an object. In the case of arrows, it’s the amount of force that is needed to stop the arrow. Momentum is important to consider because it directly influences the penetration power of your arrow (or bullet, or anything else). The more momentum your arrow has, the more force or resistance it will take to stop it, which means it will penetrate deeper through an animal’s chest cavity. You can find an arrow momentum calculator online, but it’s very easy to do yourself (see the arrow momentum formula below).

Momentum (arrow) = mass of arrow (grains) x arrow speed (fps) / 225,400

As an example:

400 grain arrow x 300 fps bow / 225,400 = 0.53 pound seconds (momentum)

 

As you can see from the formula, an increase in your arrow weight or bow speed both mean an increase in momentum. That’s true only to a certain point though, since significantly heavier objects will start to give into gravity before lighter things do.

Kinetic Energy of Arrows

Kinetic energy is defined as a type of energy possessed by moving objects (in this case, hunting arrows). When you draw your bow back, there is potential energy stored in the bow limbs. When you squeeze the release trigger, that energy is transferred to the arrow as it speeds away. When the arrow strikes a target or game animal, the energy is transferred again to it. Therefore, hunters can think of kinetic energy as the knockdown power of a projectile. When you shoot a heavy bullet at an animal, it usually possesses a lot of kinetic energy, which is why the transfer of energy can literally knock them down or cause such trauma and devastation to the wound site. With bows, however, the kinetic energy is nowhere near as devastating, which is why the arrow vs. bullet kinetic energy topic is so interesting. Again, you can find a kinetic energy calculator online, but this kinetic energy formula is also simple:

Kinetic energy (arrow) = mass of arrow (grains) x arrow speed (fps)2 / 450,240

As an example (remember to square the fps first):

400 grain arrow x (300 fps bow)2 / 450,240 = 79.95 foot pounds (kinetic energy)

As with momentum, increasing the hunting arrow speed or arrow weight will increase the kinetic energy of arrows. But when it comes to arrows and quickly killing a game animal, speed and kinetic energy don’t improve penetration like momentum does.

Consider the Other Factors

There are plenty of other factors and variables that affect how an arrow hits a target or game animal. Though momentum and kinetic energy are important, the other items listed below are also worth noting.

Picture: TJ Unger, The Virtue TV

The species you’re going after is a large part of this equation too. The minimum arrow momentum for deer will be a lot less than the minimum momentum for larger animals (and similar for kinetic energy). For example, thicker-skinned moose or bear will offer more resistance than white-tailed deer and turkeys. Their tough hides, meaty shoulders, and thick shoulder blades can all quickly shuffle your momentum and kinetic energy thoughts into the garbage. So you need to have a higher FOC, higher momentum, and higher kinetic energy as the animal you pursue increases in size and toughness. Here are a few general measurements to consider for kinetic energy required for different game animals. However, always consider that a heavier, slower arrow will likely have less kinetic energy, but will have more momentum to punch through a tough exterior. In most cases, momentum will trump kinetic energy requirements.

Additionally, the type of broadhead you use will make a big difference in the penetration equation. Lightweight broadheads don’t have the same momentum as heavier broadheads (all other things being equal) and so won’t penetrate as deeply. Also, broadheads with large cutting diameters have more resistance than broadheads with smaller diameters. But the increased cutting surface may be a good tradeoff for the reduction in penetration if you only hunt deer or turkeys. For larger game animals, a heavier and narrower broadhead will be better suited to punch through the tough hide and bone.

The arrow flight path (influenced by the arrow FOC and balance) can also cause inefficiencies that reduce its momentum or kinetic energy. For example, if an arrow takes a nosedive soon after leaving the bow, the kinetic energy won’t be delivered with the broadhead straight on, and the momentum can also suffer.

How You Can Change Them (and Why You Might)

As you can see, the arrow weight and the speed of the arrow are both things you can control to play with the momentum and kinetic energy of arrows. The more momentum and kinetic energy you have, the more likely you are to penetrate and quickly dispatch an animal. One way to do that is to get a faster bow. But using a heavier arrow (to increase your momentum) is a better bet in most cases. If you want to use a heavier broadhead and increase your arrow FOC for better penetration, there is a great way.

Nock Out® offers Lock-n-Load® inserts, which essentially add weight (grains) to the front end of your arrow while providing an easy and glueless method to insert a field tip or broadhead. This is not only an easy way to quickly index the blades to your vanes, but it will help improve your trajectory and increase the momentum and kinetic energy of arrows at the same time. Ultimately, you need to experiment with your own situation to see how the two measurements affect your shooting.

Crossbow Bolts | Information for the Beginning Crossbow Hunter

What You Need to Know About Crossbow Bolts

With the use of crossbows as a hunting weapon gaining popularity rapidly across much of the country, beginning crossbow hunters are seeking out what to look for when purchasing crossbow bolts. Sure, it is important to research the actual model and brand of crossbow like any other piece of hunting equipment before making a purchase, however, what many hunters and shooters are missing is what bolt is best for their crossbow setup and for the species of animal they intend to shoot. Deciding on which crossbow bolt to shoot, what the best crossbow bolt is for you, or building crossbow bolts specifically for a hunt is information that any crossbow hunter should know.

Looking for a Reliable Crossbow Bolt

A lot of variables make up a good crossbow bolt. Until you know which bolt performs the best from your crossbow it is not as simple as walking into your pro shop and purchasing a six-pack of bolts and hoping for the best. Crossbow bolt length, the weight of the entire bolt, type of nock, and shaft material should all be considered before making an initial purchase. Crossbow manufacturers have recommendations for which type of bolt shoots best and these recommendations should be followed. They will also provide the necessary information for the weight, length, and nock type for their crossbow. However, when it comes down to it, it’s obviously up to each individual hunter to choose the best crossbow bolt for their crossbow using the guidelines set by the crossbow manufacturer. If you do not shoot the correct bolt or nock, you run the risk of damaging the crossbow and/or yourself.

 

KILLERTECH™ PRO 20” CROSSBOLTS

Killer Carbon Meets lighted performance – our KillerTech™PRO bolt now comes pre-installed with industry-leading NockOut™ lighted crossbow nocks. Killer Instinct® Lumix Lighted Nocks stand up to repeated use put of high-powered, high-performance crossbows – proven dependable after hundreds of shots! We are confident these bolts will exceed your expectations and improve your confidence in the field.

 

Crossbow Bolt Construction

Crossbow bolts are similar to construction to that of arrows shot from compound bows. But, with many crossbows shooting more than 400 fps, the bolts need to be tough enough to prevent them from exploding when shot.

Bolt Length

Bolts range in length from 16” to 22”. The most common length is 20-inches. It is possible to get away with a longer bolt than recommended, but anything shorter than what is recommended could cause the broadhead or field point to get caught on the crossbow rail when fired. However, it’s hard to think of one good reason why you would shoot a bolt longer than the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Bolt Weight

The total weight of the bolt includes the weight of the bolt, crossbow nock, insert, vanes, and broadhead or field point. Just about all bolt manufacturers will list how many grains each shaft weighs or how many grains are in each inch of the shaft. For example, your bolt might say 15 grains per inch (GPI). If your bolt is 20-inches, multiply 15 x 20 to figure your bolts weight. In this example it is 300 grains. Now all you have to do is add the weight of the nock, insert, vanes and tip for a total weight. A heavier bolt, at least 400 grains not including the head, will have better downrange energy and offer better penetration. Keep in mind that even though a bolt will leave the rail quickly, a heavier bolt will quickly lose power as it flies. A bolt on the lighter end of the manufacturer’s recommendations will fly faster and will give the shooter an extended range but might not get the desired penetration.

When purchasing a crossbow, the speed ratings are often rated using a 400-grain arrow. The heavier your arrow is, the slower it will fly. For example, if your crossbow is rated at 350 fps, it will only travel at about 315 fps if you are shooting a 500-grain bolt. This matters when thinking about kinetic energy. How fast your bow shoots, the total mass of the bolt, and distance traveled all plays into how much force is delivered upon impact. Keep in mind that the larger your broadhead is, the more kinetic energy is required to get good penetration.

A Bolt’s Kinetic Energy

For small animals like deer and antelope, 23 pounds of energy is the minimum amount of kinetic energy needed. For bigger animals like elk and black bear, the minimum is about 43-pounds and bigger animals like grizzly bears will require 63 pounds of energy. For every 10 yards your bolt travels, you can expect to lose 3 to 4-percent of energy. If you bolt is delivering 80-foot-pounds of force at the initial shot you can expect at 10-yards you will receive 78 to 77-foot-pounds of kinetic energy. At 20-yards those numbers drop to 75 -74-foot-pounds of kinetic energy.

There are several kinetic energy calculators on the internet that will help you figure out how much kinetic energy your bow is delivering. However, you can figure it for yourself. All you need to know is the feet per second (fps) a bolt is flying and the total mass weight of your bolt.

KE=(mv²)/450,240

M= total mass of arrow (grains)

V= velocity of arrow (fps)

Bolt Fletching and FOC

As far as vanes go, some people prefer the smaller 2-inch vanes over the larger 4 or 5-inch vanes. The reason some like to shoot the smaller vanes has a lot to do with the arrow front of the center ratio (FOC). The smaller vanes will take away some of the weight off the rear of the bolt. This will add to the FOC. Depending on your overall setup, smaller vanes can help improve accuracy. Once you have decided on length and the total weight of the arrow, practice shooting some bolts with different sizes of vanes to see which one flies better for you.

Crossbow Nocks

Nocks come in several styles and shooting the wrong one from your crossbow could result in the string jumping the nock and causing a dry fire. Look to see if your crossbow shoots half moon, flat back, capture, or hybrid moon nocks. From there you will want to find a lighted crossbow nock that is the same type of nock. Because crossbows are delivering bolts as such a high rate of speed, they are often difficult to see upon impact. This often leaves the hunter guessing where the bolt struck the animal. To combat this problem it is a good idea to use a lighted nock. The two styles of lighted crossbow nocks by Nock Out® are half moon and flat back. Always use the nock type your crossbow is designed to shoot. Most crossbows will not shoot both styles of nocks.

Broadhead Considerations

Companies are now offering expandable blades designed specifically for crossbows. They are very similar to the same head you would shoot out of your compound. Whether you plan on shooting a fixed blade or an expandable specific for crossbows be sure to sight your crossbow in for the broadhead you intend to shoot. Even if you are shooting the bullseye at 30 yards with your field point that does not mean a bigger broadhead will fly the same. With expendables, you stand a better chance of getting the same grouping you did with your field points.

Building Your Own Bolts

If you plan on building your own bolts, it not very complicated. Just be sure each bolt is constructed using the same components. You do not want different grains of inserts, nocks, etc. If you were to do this, no two bolts would fly the same. Even when everything should be equal you might find that one bolt is a little off.

Every component of the bolt will affect how it flies and even penetrates. It might seem overwhelming to try and figure all this out at first. But, it is really a lot easier than you think. The crossbow manufacturer’s recommendations will give you a jump start. It is then up to you make the necessary little adjustments to get the bolt that flies best for you.

Setting Up a New Property for Bow Hunting

Creating a Bow Hunting Property From Scratch

Picture this, you’ve just purchased your dream hunting property. It’s exactly like you pictured, two-thirds of it is wooded and the other third is in AG production. The previous owners haven’t done anything too fancy in terms of deer management, but that didn’t stop your mind from racing with ideas on how to improve the property for deer hunting for the first season of hunting it. Since then, you’ve scoured the aerial maps, jotted down ideas, bought trail cameras, and planted food plots. The property is yours and you’ve got a blank canvas. It is time to turn this property into a deer hunting and more importantly bow hunting masterpiece that even Picasso would envy!

As you begin this process it’s important to realize what is realistic, and what is/can be the most effective in terms of delivering bow hunting opportunities for the first year of hunting a new property.

Creating a Plan that is Realistic

Like any great architectural design, it starts with a vision. From there you will start to develop a plan, then change the plan, then change the plan some more until finally, you’ve got something tangible to work with. The canvas may be the physical landscape, but the blueprints happen on maps first. Many websites and hunting map apps offer incredible aerial imagery with a few clicks and scrolls of the mouse allowing you to focus in on your property. One such asset is the free version of Google Earth Pro – it’s a major step above the standard version and offers just about all the features a land manager and hunter could ask for. You can mark trails, food plots, sanctuaries, tree stands, trail cameras, and even figure out acreages and distances. Perhaps the best part is that Google Earth Pro turns everything you add into a layer that can be clicked on and off allowing for easy altering. Check out the photo below to see an example of a strategic layout of a hunting property done using the free Google Earth Pro.

Maps will always be the lifeline and center of discussion when it comes to doing anything on your property, be it hunting, managing, or just plain strategizing. It makes sense to use a variety of apps and maps to get as much detail on paper as possible. Now onto the fun part, setting the stage for successful bow hunts.

Bow Hunting Food Plots

Let’s start with what’s usually first on everyone’s mind when it comes to habitat management – food plots. Plant it, and they will come…right? Wrong! Often times we are so anxious to get something in the ground, we hurry and plant a food plot wherever it might be convenient for us, not the deer. These spots often include power and gas line openings, field edges, old grassy spots, or just about any place that’s on our hunting property and void of trees. While there is no harm in this, these spots are not always ideal bow hunting locations. This is where those maps come in handy. Mark the bedding areas and physically draw out how the deer are moving about your property. There will be hidden clues lying in the topo lines and habitat edges as to how deer will likely travel across the area. A well-placed kill plot along one of these travel corridors might create the opportunity you’re seeking for your first year of hunting the property.

PHOTO: The Virtue TV

Plan your attack carefully and remember, bigger is not always better when it comes to creating killer bow hunting plots. There’s a big difference between a destination feeding plot and a bow hunting plot. The two main differences are usually size and location. It’s not to say a destination plot can’t be a killing plot, but generally speaking, a feeding plot is usually more than two acres in size, while a killing plot is typically under an acre. It’s often closer to ¼ acre to promote close encounters for bow hunting.

Additionally, a network of food plots will create bottlenecks for deer movement. Often times, bucks will travel just inside the cover on the downwind side of the food plot while scent checking for does or danger, especially during the rut. Deer and big bucks especially will stage up in a well-placed food plot that’s tucked back in the cover and within one hundred yards or so of their desired feeding field. Use these tactics to layout and install food plots in the best locations possible – it’ll save a lot of time, money, and headaches down the road.

Waterholes for Deer

Food plots are usually top-of-mind when it comes to improving the deer habitat, but let’s face it, the majority of hunters don’t have the time, money, or effort for exceptionally productive food plots. This is where deer waterholes come in. They are cheap, easy to install, and can be placed just about anywhere. The simplest designs include 50-gallon barrels cut in half, kiddie swimming pools, cattle tanks, and holes lined with plastic. The cool thing about water holes is you can place them just about anywhere. Placing them on ridgetops and funnels may slow up cruising bucks for a quick drink during the rut, allowing you to get off a perfect shot. Placing them in open timber or along field edges can also help bring deer in range. Once the deer get conditioned to this new source, it may even shrink their range if water is the limiting resource on your hunting property.

Hinge-Cutting

After food plots and waterholes for deer, habitat is usually the next asset to look at for a new hunting property. One of the first things that comes to mind when discussion deer habitat management is hinge-cutting. Not too long ago hinge cutting was once a relatively new and foreign topic, but now it’s a household term amongst deer hunters and managers. For those that are unfamiliar, hinge cutting is simply cutting a tree three-quarters of the way through and approximately 3-5 feet off the ground. Ideally, the tree will fall in the direction you intended and the portion of the tree you didn’t cut through will continue to provide water and nutrients to the rest of the tree which is now laying on the ground. There’s plenty of articles that cover this topic more in depth, but the point is to provide living and growing browse and cover at a height beneficial to deer.

There are three basic management outcomes that hinge cutting will achieve depending upon how it is implemented: bedding, browse, and transitional cover.

  1. Hinging for bedding purposes can be done in two ways: creating individual bedding locations and creating overall bedding areas. Basically, the difference is whether you will be doing select individual trees or an entire area.
  2. Hinging for browse is similar to hinging for bedding areas, but is done at a higher frequency. Browse areas should be done in areas with little to no future timber value or areas that are extremely crowded and choking each other out.
  3. Feathering the edges with hinge cuts is also an effective management practice. Feathering edges around food plot openings will increase the security cover and can provide a soft edge between hardwood stands and food plots or field openings. This is an important factor to consider, as these denser edges will often lead to an increase in daytime deer movement, especially mature buck movement.

Along the same line of creating soft edges, is the practice of creating barriers with hinge cuts or other downed trees. In essence, you’re creating a semi-natural fence to alter deer movement in your favor. You can cut or stack a tangled mess around food plots so the deer can only enter in certain areas or even lay a line through a big chunk of timber to concentrate the often-erratic deer movement to certain pinch points. There’s a lot of fun to be had in the woods with a chainsaw, but just remember you can’t uncut a cut tree. It’s always a wise idea to consult a forester first or at least take the less-is-more approach.

Strategically Placed Scrape Trees

When it comes to creating bow hunting opportunities on a new hunting property mock scrapes are often overlooked. Planting scrape trees or creating mock scrapes in October and November in certain areas is a super simple and effective project to steer deer into bow range. All you need to do is to cut down a scrape worthy tree or branch within bow range of your stand, scrape a patch of dirt in below the branch, add some scent to the ground and branch, and wait for the right buck to start using it frequently. Like any scrape, these are perfect trail camera locations and once a pattern is developed, hunting locations! If you don’t want to physically place a tree, another strategy is to selectively trim branches along field edges, making sure to only leave one or two perfect scrape branches in the perfect spot.

And there you have it – a quick guide to creating an ideal bow hunting property from scratch. While this barely scratches the surface of some techniques and improvements, these simple enhancements can drastically alter a bow hunting property’s productivity with the realistic effort needed to produce results. Remember though, it’s crucial to start with a vision and map out your plan before you go in with time and money. Be strategic in your approach and remember less is usually more if it is done properly.

Tips for Developing Your Bow Hunting Plot

Bow Hunting Food Plot Tips

Feature Flatline Whitetails

Bow hunting food plots can be, and most likely are, essential to your bow hunting strategy. However, knowing where to develop them, how to develop them, and how to maintain them can be very overwhelming. That’s why it’s important for you to clearly define the purpose of your food plot, set a goal, and set realistic expectations for the plot. Questions to ask yourself are:

  • Do you want to grow larger deer?
  • Do you want a larger population?
  • Are you simply looking for a spot that will help you harvest more deer?
  • When do you want to hunt the plot?
  • What species is best for your goals?
  • What resources do you have to plant the plot?
  • What food plot or design best aligns with your expectations?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you create a successful food plot. However, only you can answer these questions. A magazine, video, or blog will not tell you the magic equation for your specific situation. There are too many variables involved. You can however receive some valuable knowledge to steer your strategy. Defining your goals and expectations, and combine that with helpful food plot knowledge will help you select the right locations, seed choices, and strategies to implement with food plots. This blog will provide you with the knowledge and considerations to help you steer towards that ideal bow hunting food plot.

Picture: Flatline Whitetails

Pick a Strategic Location and Species

Once goals and resources are considered, you can begin the process of establishing the food plot by selecting the right location and species. There are normally two types of plots to plan for that influence location and seed selection:

  1. Kill plots
  2. Feeding plots

Kill plots exist to help you harvest more deer. Feeding plots allow you to monitor, grow, and protect your herd. It is important to differentiate the two, and how each are considered to be bow hunting food plots, as they both play pivotal roles in the overall strategy.

Kill Plots

Perennial plot species like clover, easily one of the best food plot species, tends to do well for both kill plots and feeding plots. Clover specifically does not require much in the way of planting, and maintenance, but it also tends to be browse tolerant and shade tolerant…ideal for small bow hunting food plots.

Clover plots are among the most popular bow hunting plots because the species make great staging area food plots. These are small areas that deer, and more importantly bucks stage in before progressing into larger food source or destination feeding plots. The idea behind staging plots is that it presents the opportunity to shoot a deer before legal light fades, as deer typically appear in staging areas before waiting for the cover of darkness to enter an intimidating larger plot. For the most part, staging areas are kill plots, a plot location, design, and shape for harvesting deer.

Entry and exit routes are the most critical factor that influences location of kill plots besides deer behavior and movement. Utilize features like creeks, terrain, rising or sinking thermals, thick brush, food plot screens, logging roads, or anything else that can give you an edge to be quiet and scent free on your entry. Shift access around or away from where deer are bedding or traveling. Your entry and exit should be on the downwind side of the stand or blind you plan on bow hunting in. Looking out for these features should steer your decision of plot placement.

Picture: Flatline Whitetails

Feeding Plots

While perennial species like clover can easily take the roll of feeding plots, annuals like corn and soybeans tend to be the species of choice for feeding plots. These, mostly large-scale food plots (3+ acres) are destination food sources that can provide enough food for continual feeding through most if not the entire year. Soybean, particularly varieties that mature early and provide high yields of grain provide summer nutrition and late season food sources. If species like winter rye and winter wheat are planted with the beans (in the fall when beans start turning) a green food source can be provided in the same plot that will provide forage through winter and spring. The location of these destination food sources are just as, if not more important than the placement of your kill plots. A feeding plot determines the direction of deer travel on a property, influence bedding areas, and determine the location of your kill plots.

Picture: Flatline Whitetails

Typically destination food sources are untouched, leaving deer unpressured so movement across a property is not hindered. This movement is in turn targeted for hunting between the destination food source and the bedding areas. This area of transitional movement is the perfect spot for a bow hunting kill plot. Whether you hunt that plot or not is determined by trail camera and scouting Intel, wind direction, and the level of pressure you want to put on the plot.

Tips for Better Bow Hunting Food Plots

Knowing the location and type of species is the biggest decision when developing bow hunting plots. Here are some helpful tips when it comes time to actually turn over the dirt!

Know the Soil

The first thing you need to do once you pick out your ideal location and choice of species to plant is to get your soil tested. The results will help you determine what you should and should not plant, how much lime and fertilizer (particularly nitrogen) may be needed, and what quality of a plot you can expect.

The best part? Soil tests are easy to get. Simply bring a sample into your local feed store, conservations district, local extension service, or if you have to, order one to take yourself. This will not only help you grow a better yield, but also save you money on unnecessary lime and fertilizer costs.

Picture: Flatline Whitetails

Plant Wisely

When it comes to the actual planting, there are numerous things that need to be considered. However, the details of each are dependent on your location, choice of seed, size of plot, and ultimate goals. In summary, these are the things every hunter should be aware of when planning their plot:

  • Kill existing vegetation
  • Try to plant before a rain
  • Use lime and fertilizer to prime the soil
  • Plant towards the sun (for maximum exposure in short fall days)
  • Know the correct planting depth (depending on the seeds you have chosen)
  • Keep up with weeds
  • Add subsequent fertilizer as necessary
  • Don’t babysit the plot to avoid unneeded pressure

Maintain the Plot

Depending on what you chose to grow, you will need to selectively keep up with the changing conditions of the plot. Soybeans and corn will need to be sprayed for weeds. This is easiest with a roundup ready soybean or corn variety. Clover and alfalfa require more selective herbicides such as a broadleaf selective herbicide (2-4D B (butryac)) and a grass selective herbicide (clethodim or sethoxydim). You can also mow these species, but mowing can take valuable food and soil moisture away from these food plots which can hurt the plot in the long run. Depending on your crop of choice, it may also be necessary to supplement with more fertilizer shortly after planting.

Avoid Too Much Pressure

Pressure on both feeding plots and kill plots has been a reoccurring point for this blog, but that stresses the importance. After putting all of the work and resources into a food plot, one of the biggest mistakes people make is spending too much time in it. This leaves your scent and presence throughout the entire area. Pushing the deer out of the food plot defeats the purpose of putting it there in the first place and the consequences could be drastic come hunting season. Therefore, once it’s planted, limit your time there. Outside of checking your trail cameras and keeping an eye on your crop, stay out! Try to stay on vehicle as much as possible, and avoid visiting it during peak activity.

Picture: Flatline Whitetails

Evaluate the Plot

Once the season is over, it’s critical that you evaluate the plot, the deer movement within the plot, and its success rate. Some evaluation points to think about and track are:

  • Are deer feeding throughout the peak activity times in your destination food sources?
  • Are deer working through your staging area kill plots?
  • Are their patterns being developed by particular bucks on the kill or feeding plots?
  • What plots are deer avoiding and why?
  • What other tactics could you employ in the plot to make it more attractive (waterholes, mock scrapes, food plot screens)?

This will help you determine its viability for future use, and possible changes you could make, whether it be location, choice of seed, stand placement, or more advanced bow hunting plot tactics that you could have engaged in.

Picture: Flatline Whitetails

Finding Success with Bow Hunting Plots

Creating and managing successful bow hunting food plots is hard work. It requires self-education, dedication, time, and labor. However, the key to success is consistency and observation. Make small changes and improvements where necessary, keep an eye out for opportunities, and keep your plots active for years to see trends and patterns develop.

Over time, you’ll see the effort pays off. Not only will you see more deer, but you’ll create better bow hunting opportunities. Bow hunting food plots eventually may be your biggest success in your overall bow hunting strategy.

Modifying Your Bow Setup for Turkey Hunting

Bow Hunting Turkeys | Bow Setup for Turkeys

Turkey hunting, in general, takes an elevated skill set. Bow hunting turkeys on the other hand is on a whole other level. This is a challenge making a climb in popularity in the hunting community. As more hunters continue to take this feat on, many will realize it is harder than it looks. Those who accomplish the task quickly figure out what works and what doesn’t. What these hunters realize is that the trick to smacking a longbeard with a bow is modifying your bow setup for turkeys. The biggest mistake hunters can make when turkey hunting with a bow is pursuing spring gobblers without changing their bow rig from the fall. Simply hitting the spring woods with the same equipment used for deer is not going to cut it. On top of that, all the other turkey hunting tactics employed with a shotgun need modified to be successful when bow hunting.  Here are some tips and guidelines, including how to modify a bow setup for turkeys, for those taking on the challenge of hunting turkeys with a bow.

Bow Setup for Turkey Hunting 

You can get away with using your big game bow hunting setup for turkeys. However, you will increase your chances of success if you modify your bow setup specifically for turkey hunting.

 

PHOTOFlatline Whitetails, when turkey hunting with a bow, every detail of the bow’s setup counts.

Bow Length and Draw Weight

Although most modern compound bows on the market today are compact, it is worth mentioning that the best bow for turkey hunting is shorter. If you shoot a bow longer than 34 inches axle-to-axle, you would benefit from downsizing to a smaller bow if you want to reliably hunt turkeys. A shorter bow is easier to shoot from a ground blind and can be maneuvered more effectively in different shooting positions while helping conceal your draw. If you plan on hunting turkeys with a bow on the ground, without a blind, a long bow could limit your ability to draw. In both cases a shorter bow works in you favor.

Draw weight is another factor to consider when bow hunting turkeys. The biggest difference in terms of modifying your bow for turkeys is decreasing your draw weight. Unlike hunting big game where draw weight is often at its peak, dropping the poundage for turkeys is advantageous for two reasons.

 

PHOTO: Phillip Vanderpool The Virtue TV, Bow modifications specifically for turkey hunting can improve your ability to hunt turkeys out of a ground blind or from the ground.  

First, lower draw weight enables you to draw smoother and more importantly hold at full draw for a longer period. A gobbler will often hang up, or more likely dance around the decoys without offering ideal shots. This will add a few extra seconds to get the shot required to harvest the bird. Being able to hold at full draw with ease will ensure an accurate shot when it presents itself. 

 Second, reducing draw weight affects arrow FOC and kinetic energy (KE). For big game applications, KE above 40 ft. lbs. is recommended to effectively kill the animal. Kinetic energy in the 25 to 40 ft. lbs. is more ideal for turkey hunting with a bow. The reason is you want to reduce the arrow’s velocity, which reduces KE, in order to minimize a pass-through. A pass-through can lead to a bird being able to run or fly away even with an accurate shot. A rule of thumb is to reduce your normal draw weight by 10 lbs. but ideally get it down to around 55 or 60 lbs. Of course, the reduction in draw weight will change how your bow shoots so additional turkey bow practice will be required before the season.

Tuning Your Bow Accessories for Spring Turkey Hunting 

Bow modification for turkey hunting should extend to include all of your bow’s accessories. The main accessories to focus on for turkey hunting with a bow are your stabilizer, arrow rest, and sight. 

Shorten Up Your Stabilizer

Similar to reducing your draw weight, your bow’s stabilizer should be reduced as well. More innovative, and yes larger, stabilizers are the norm on bows today. While great for accuracy, they can trip you up while bow hunting for turkeys. A long stabilizer can get tangled in a blind or brush on the ground and can ruin a hunt. Opt for a more compact stabilizer when spring turkey hunting. 

Choose an Arrow Rest that Holds Up

Having a full capture arrow rest when turkey hunting with a bow allows you to maneuver in different positions without having your arrow fall or having to move to hold it in place. There will be times when you have to re-position for a shot when turkey hunting. A full capture arrow rest will keep your arrow secure and keeps you concealed. 

Use a Simple Sight

Most bow shots on a turkey are going to be close. Few shots will or should be taken out past 30-yards. The further the shot, the harder it is to accurately hit the small kill zones available on a gobbler. Because of this, it pays to use a simple sight. You may have 3, 4 or even 5 pins on your bow sight for deer, but for turkeys, you only need one or two pins. A good bow setup for turkey hunting is one 20-yard pin and one 30-yard pin. Simplifying your sight will make for a faster and less distracting focus on the turkey…which will be more than likely moving frantically.

 

PHOTO: You may have 3, 4 or even 5 pins on your bow sight for deer, but for turkeys, you only need one or two pins. A good bow setup for turkey hunting is one 20-yard pin and one 30-yard pin.

Arrows and Broadheads for Turkey Hunting with a Bow

Arrows and broadheads deserve their own assessment when it comes to turkeys. Besides the effect on kinetic energy and arrow FOC, your arrow and broadhead combination obviously has the last say in whether you kill a bird or not. 

Arrow Fletching

Arrows fletchings are typically brightly colored in order to provide a visual confirmation of your shot on target. These bright colored fletchings, however, can give you a way to an otherwise unsuspecting turkey. Shoot arrows with dark color fletchings and arrows that are in camo themselves. A simple tip is to use a permanent marker to darken your fletchings to avoid having to re-fletch arrows just for spring turkey hunting. Doing so will minimize the chance a bird will pick you out in a dark blind or on the ground as you draw. Also, using a lighted nock such as Nock Out Contender lighted nocks will stay off until you shoot the arrow. This will still enable you to clearly see where your arrow impacts.

PHOTO: TJ Unger The Virtue TV, Arrows and broadheads deserve their own assessment when it comes to turkeys. Besides the effect on kinetic energy and arrow FOC, your arrow and broadhead combination obviously has the last say in whether you kill a bird or not.

Broadheads for Turkeys

The last important step in perfecting your bow hunting setup for turkeys is choosing the right broadhead. The business end and your final connection to putting a gobbler on the ground takes some extra consideration. The wrong broadhead might allow your turkey to either fly away unharmed or injured just enough to get away and die elsewhere. 

There are two schools of thought on broadheads, but one key characteristic that encompasses both. The best turkey hunting broadheads deliver maximum shock first and foremost. There are mechanical broadheads that have wide cutting diameters designed just for this. They shoot well in most bow setups and pack a punch on a gobbler. Also, fixed blade broadheads work well for turkey hunting. These are the most versatile turkey hunting broadheads because they work for all the best places to shoot a turkey. No matter if you choose a mechanical or fixed blade broadhead, you want well over a 1-inch cutting diameter. The larger cutting diameter you can shoot accurately the better for turkey hunting. 

Finally, guillotine, or decapitation style broadheads can be an option. The guillotine broadhead is designed for headshots on a turkey and as the name suggests, takes the head right off a bird. This type of broadhead has its disadvantages such as narrowing the kill zone on a bird but can be effective with the right bow hunting setup for turkeys. Bowmar Bowhunting (@bowmarbowhunting) puts all the pieces together for a proper setup for hunting turkeys with a bow using guillotine style broadheads. 

Video: Proper Tuning Steps for Giant Decapitating Turkey Broadheads
Follow these simple steps from Bowmar Bowhunting to get the most out of your guillotine style turkey hunting broadheads. 

The Bowmars used this setup on a recent turkey hunt in Texas and found success with the decapitation style broadheads.

Video: Josh Bowmar shoots a giant double bearded turkey with a bow in Texas! What an awesome turkey hunt- nothing quite like bow hunting turkeys.

Shot Placement When Turkey Hunting with a Bow 

The best bow setup for turkey hunting is worthless unless you know where to shoot a turkey. Shot placement is important no matter what you are hunting with a bow, but hunting turkeys with a bow adds additional complexity.

PHOTO: The Archery Trade Association’s Explore Bow Hunting Program. Illustration by Ryan Kirby. There are three main places to shoot a turkey with a bow. Each of which depends on how the gobbler is positioned.

There are three main places to shoot a turkey with a bow. Each of which depends on how the gobbler is positioned. 

  1. Head Shot – The gobbler can be broadside or facing directly towards you for this shot. If you can do it, hitting a bird in the head will drop them, especially if you are using a guillotine style broadhead. 
  2. Vitals Shot – Another place to shoot a turkey is in the vitals. A Turkey’s vitals are small so shot placement has to be precise. With a broadside bird, aim where the wing connects to the body. If the bird is facing you, shoot for the base of the beard. 
  3. Anal Shot – A full strut bird facing away from you gives you a perfect shot. His fan will block him from seeing you draw and placing an arrow through his backside will quickly paralyze and kill the bird. 

Final Tips for Bow Hunting Turkeys

One big decision you will face after modifying your bow setup for turkeys are the hunting tactics you will use. Hunting turkeys from a blind is more common than hunting from the ground because it provides a layer of concealment to move and draw. However, a blind is only effective if you know where gobblers are hanging out. You will have to setup the blind beforehand without being seen or busting them off their roost. The ground offers more flexibility to move spots as the bird’s patterns change throughout the day. TJ Unger of the Virtue recently discussed turkey hunting with a bow on the ground. Check the video out below.

Turkey hunting with a bow requires the right bow setup. Many hunters make the mistake of not modifying their deer hunting bow setup for spring turkeys. They also fail to adjust their normal turkey hunting tactics (when using a shotgun) specifically for bow hunting turkeys. These 4 turkey bow hunting tips should help you avoid those mistakes!

 

Nock Out® Field Journal Ep.4 | Bow Hunting Turkeys No Blind

Bow Hunting Turkeys With No Blind with The Virtue’s TJ Unger

For the fourth installment of Nock Out® Lighted Nock’s Field Journals, The Virtue’s TJ Unger talks about bow practice for turkeys and his setup for bow hunting turkeys without a blind! TJ is committed to the challenge of bow hunting turkeys without a blind. In order to be successful both the shot and the setup need to be rehearsed.

The challenge of bow hunting turkeys comes down to one essential moment…the draw. Without proper planning, a hunter’s body can be positioned in a way that will not offer the opportunity to draw on a close bird. TJ elects to sit on a ground seat with his body turned to the side from where he expects the turkey to approach. The decoy will be positioned 10 yards directly to the side of TJ. This allows him to draw his bow back without hitting brush or his knees, while the birds will be positioned perfectly in his shooting lane. If able, brushing in his side from the approach of the turkeys will give him a wall to draw behind, and enough time to be settled before the tom arrives at his decoy and shooting lane.

Indiana’s season opened Wednesday, April 25th, the first opportunity for TJ to test out this setup. The morning brought an opportunity to shoot a gobbler and TJ capitalized on it. The tom worked its way within 6 yards before TJ let the arrow fly. This turkey bow hunting setup without a blind worked perfectly on opening day!

For more tips or videos on bow hunting turkeys check out the articles below!

      

Nock Out® Field Journal Ep.3 | Turkey Scouting

Pre-Season Turkey Scouting with The Virtue’s TJ Unger

For the third installment of Nock Out® Lighted Nock’s Field Journals, The Virtue’s TJ Unger and Brady Miller reveal how they are active with pre-season turkey scouting. Scouting turkeys in the pre-season before Indiana’s opener on April 26th means that TJ and Brady have to spend some vital time in the field. This means spending time glassing food sources and strutting areas, installing and checking trail cameras, and scouting roosting areas for sign of activity. 

Bad weather including April snowstorms have plagued Indiana and the majority of the Midwest for the past two weeks. Luckily a break in the weather gave TJ and Brady just enough time to scout a property before the opener.

Glassing, trail camera photos, and scouting roosting areas all paid off for TJ and Brady. Glassing from the comfort of the truck is one of the easiest ways to scout turkeys. It also can be performed during bad weather. Glassing, in particular, can reveal where the flock and stutters spend most of their time. The most obvious areas in the Midwest would include large open agriculture fields. Specific places and travel routes in these fields can be identified by using trail cameras.

A recent card pull revealed travel routes that gobblers were taking between food sources and roosting sites. This lead to spending some time actively scouting the property. Turkey sign and feathers confirmed TJ and Brady’s suspicions of where the turkeys were roosting, the final piece of the puzzle they needed for opening day! Hopefully the latest turkey scouting Intel will lead to a successful season for crew!

Want to find out more about bow hunting turkeys? Check out our other tips and blogs on turkey hunting below!