Slinging Arrows At Turkeys

Upstate Outdoors
March 30, 2018 - 11:48 am

Phillip Gentry

The first question anyone ever asks Scott Hammond of Charleston when they see him packing up his turkey hunting gear is “Where’s your shotgun?”. Hammond just smiles and holds up his trusty Elite Energy 32 bow and heads for his truck.

His explanation is that through his lifetime he has been more than blessed with hunting opportunities in the Great Outdoors and he has taken more than his share of eastern wild turkey with firearms.

Using stick and string to tackle turkey takes a lot more advance planning than simply walking into the woods with a shotgun slung over your shoulder. Because of the disadvantage of not having cover to conceal the movements of the hunter during the draw, Elite Archery pro Scott Hammond must scout out the movements of the birds on the land he intends to hunt and pattern them almost right down to the exact steps they’ll be taking.

“I’ll pattern my turkeys early and get to know their travel movements because the first week or two of the season is when those gobblers are still henned up and with large packs of hens, they will stick to the same travel pattern throughout the day,” Hammond said.

Other than the archery tackle, Hammond heavily relies on two additional pieces of gear to assist him in getting close enough to a gobbler to take a shot. The first is a blind, which may be of permanent construction involving natural materials, or it may be a pop-up blind that’s carried into the woods the morning of the hunt or possibly the night before.

“On my personal farm, a place I’m going to hunt multiple times, I put permanent blinds out a month in advance,” he said. “If I have roosted a bird the night before, like say on the edge of a big agricultural field, I have taken a blind in at midnight, set it up on the edge of the field, and successfully harvested that gobbler the next morning.”

The second piece is decoys. While he may be certain a gobbler is going to travel this way,  very few “certainties” exist in turkey hunting, so he uses the power of suggestion by deploying rubber social media. 

“I love a semi-strut jake decoy,” said Hammond. “Make sure the decoy is facing you, because that mature Tom is going to come in and go for the face of the offending bird. That puts his back end toward you, which gives you the best opportunity to draw as well as the best kill shot with an arrow, right down the anal vent.”

When it comes to his tackle selection, Hammond takes the same bow he uses for deer in the fall into the woods in the spring and makes very little adjustments to the tackle, right down to using the same broad head.

“If you’re shooting 70 pound draw weight at deer, I recommend backing it down a bit, anything over 45 pounds is sufficient” he said.  “Having enough kinetic energy is not going to be an issue on turkey. You never know how long you might be stuck at full draw before he gives you a good shot, so you don’t want to be straining against all that draw.  Gobblers are very tough birds but you’re not going to have a problem with penetration.  


Phillip Gentry is the host of "Upstate Outdoors," broadcast noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on 106.3 WORD FM. The show can also be heard online at live or via podcast. 


Archery hunting for turkey may not be for everyone, but it does add to the challenge of the sport. Photo courtesy Scott Hammond

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