During fall, many hunters combine their pleasures and take archery gear afield in search of deer and/or turkeys. But is your whitetail rig necessarily the best setup for a fall jake or jenny? Here's what bowhunting expert Travis Byrd advises. (Photo courtesy of Cally Morris)
The ideal bow for turkey hunting has a fairly short axle-to-axle length, about 30 to 33 inches, and a high let-off, such as 80 percent.
A shorter axle-to-axle bow will allow for better maneuverability inside a blind or when positioning for a shot. Shorter bows are also less likely to hit the top of the your blind or an unseen branch when shooting, which could make your arrow stray from the target.
A high percentage let-off comes into play when you come to full draw, allowing a more comfortable, controlled shot.
When selecting a poundage, choose a weight you can draw comfortably and without wasted movement. A good rule of thumb is to pick a poundage you can easily draw while sitting, with the bow directly in front, and then drawing straight back.
For accessories, I highly recommend a fiber-optic sight. With the growth and advancement of the archery industry the past 10 to 15 years, fiber-optic sights have become the norm. Choose a pin size you can see easily, and use no more than five pins. More pins can clutter the sight window and cause confusion on picking the correct pin when aiming. Fiber-optic sights also increase pin visibility during low light, which is a major factor at fly-down time.
Go with a full-capture, drop-away rest, which will help ensure the arrow stays on the rest at all times while you draw and maneuver the bow. Many rests on the market combine these elements. This style of rest also provides increased accuracy, and I don’t know of any bowhunter who doesn’t want increased accuracy.
You have three options for arrows: aluminum, carbon and aluminum/carbon arrows. Aluminum arrows have been pushed to the wayside. Nowadays, it’s much easier to find a dozen carbon arrows than a dozen aluminum arrows, which is opposite of 20 years ago. Carbon arrows are more durable because they don’t bend like aluminum arrows. They are shootable or broken, but an unseen bend in an aluminum arrow can go unnoticed until the arrow is fired and wobbles off course.
There are two basic types of broadheads: mechanical and fixed-blade. You’ll hear many opinions about both types, but it boils downs to one factor: consistency. If a broadhead does not consistently fly straight and hit the same location as your field points, your odds of success decrease by 99.9 percent. Usually, to achieve such consistent accuracy, you must shoot a lot, make adjustments when needed and ensure that your rig is dialed in. Sometimes, you’ll have to shoot many broadhead models before finding one that achieves that consistent accuracy.
When you find the best combo, practice a lot to build confidence in your setup and ability.