Photo Credit: John Hafner

Video: Turkey Shot Placement and Why It’s Important

  Scott Einsmann   FeaturedHow To   March 14, 2018

Once you’ve used turkey calls to coax a big tom into bow range, your next challenge is making the shot. Where do you aim on turkeys to make quick, ethical kills?


Turkeys have a small baseball-size “vitals” area, which requires careful shooting. When a strutting tom comes into your effective range, wait for it to come out of strut. It’s hard to identify a gobbler’s vitals and body definition when it’s puffed up to maximize size. As with deer, the best place to shoot turkeys is their heart and lung area. Turkeys present this shot when broadside.

A turkey’s heart and lungs are just behind the wing where it joins the body. Think of it as the turkey’s shoulder. As with deer, the ideal shot strikes turkeys right behind the shoulder.


Unlike deer, headshots are an ethical option on turkeys. It’s a challenging target, but the wounding risk is small because errant shots are usually clean misses. When taking this shot, aim at the base of the head where it joins the neck. This junction presents a larger target and doesn’t move as much as the head.

Front and Rear Shots

Front and rear shots are also options. For a frontal shot, aim just above the tom’s beard to send your arrow into the vitals. For a rear shot, wait for the tom to come out of strut. A soft “yelp” on a call can stop the tom and get him out of strut. Place your sightpin in the middle of the turkey’s back. A shot there breaks the spine and strikes the vitals.

Headshots, frontal shots and rear shots are lethal, but these options present small targets and aren’t recommended for newcomers. Know your capabilities and acknowledge your experience level. Those factors dictate your effective shooting distance and your definition of “ethical shot placement.” All bowhunters must determine their personal limitations, and follow their own guidelines.

To buy turkey calls, decoys and other essentials, visit an archery shop. You’ll find knowledgeable and friendly staff eager to help.


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