Skip to main content

How to Create Proven Turkey Setups

How to Create Proven Turkey Setups

"If they could smell, you'd never kill one." It's a statement we have all heard, and likely said, about one of the most instinctive animals in North America. The wild turkey, regardless of sub-species, can be incredibly frustrating, while downright fun to chase with archery tackle.

But if you're going to hunt these birds with a bow, you better have the right setup. It has taken years and a lot of spooked birds to figure out concealment, proper scouting and good decoys are essential to punching an archery turkey tag.

Ground Blinds

It's no secret their eyes are their lifeline. Staying concealed to get drawn within effective range is probably best accomplished with the use of a well-placed ground blind. It's been well documented that unlike with deer, it's not critical that the blind itself is well concealed or brushed in. The more natural however, you can make your ground blind setups, the better.

Some of my most memorable hunts have taken place out of blinds that were tucked back in cover completely concealed from detection. Whenever possible, I take the time to make sure as much light as possible is out of the inside of the blind. I also always wear black clothing and a facemask to disappear into the inside of the blind as best as possible.


Turkey hunting is almost always done from a ground-blind location, preferably with ample cover to avoid spooking other forms of wildlife when your fired-up gobbler is on the way in.


Concealing yourself from animals other than turkeys can sometimes make all the difference in your success. There is nothing worse than having a longbeard fired up and coming, then half a dozen deer blow out sending him the other way because they got spooked by a ground blind in the middle of an open field. I have had to find out the hard way that cutting corners with blind setups can be all that separates filling or not filling a tag.

With the amount of ground blind options on the market, it can be a little intimidating to make a selection. Some key factors I look for are easy setup, window configuration and overall size. The hub-style blinds are typically my favorites. Setup and breakdown is fast and easy and there are many models with plenty of room for gear and multiple hunters. Some of the newer models come with ties or loops to make brushing the blind in easier.

Natural Blinds

Blinds created from natural habitat are a great way to really blend in with your surroundings. Like ground blinds, you don't get to move around much, so you should approach the setup with the understanding that you are committing yourself to a fixed location. This makes scouting and knowing how the birds use the property very important.

Evergreens, such as cedar boughs, make for great cover and provide for a dark interior, making it easier to conceal your silhouette and movements. Of course, utilizing whatever you have available on your particular property will have to work if cedar trees aren't available. The important thing is to take the time to situate the blind in the right place with adequate cover.




Breaking up your outline and having enough cover to draw your bow are the minimum requirements. Stock up on sturdy zip-ties or wire to tie limbs, brush or any other natural vegetation to comfortably conceal you and your movements. It's also a good idea to clear the ground of any sticks, leaves or anything else that can make noise as you get in position for a shot.

Bare dirt is silent and allows you to adjust and maneuver as needed. One of the best things about building natural blinds is that you can construct them to fit your shooting style perfectly and you're only limited by your imagination on the architecture. It's hunting and it's supposed to be fun, so have fun!

Finding the "X"

A potential downside of hunting from blinds is the lack of mobility. I have been in many situations where a quick adjustment or moving positions has resulted in a dead bird. When bowhunting from ground blinds though, that isn't always an option. This makes scouting and being on the "X" vital to arrowing a gobbler.


"X marks the spot" — there are no truer words for an archery turkey hunter. Success most often comes when you know where the birds want to be, so you can set up there or at least en route to that location. It's common sense, yes, but can't be overstated. Sure, good calling and a little luck are always helpful and can result in getting the drop on a love-sick tom, but I always try do what I can to leave as little as possible to chance.

I have found that trail cameras are great tools for identifying travel routes, dusting areas and scratching or feeding locations to understand where flocks are spending most of their time. From there, it's just a matter of choosing the most ideal spot for an ambush. Bottlenecks in fields, pinch points on ridges or any other terrain feature that can put a gobbler where you want him are great spots to key in on.

Set the Stage

Decoys are one of the final, and usually the most fun, pieces to the puzzle when it comes to filling an archery turkey tag. "You get what you pay for" couldn't be more true when it comes to turkey decoys. Have hunters been fooling longbeards for years using inexpensive, simple, non-detailed decoys? Of course.

Nothing can turn a turkey hunt in your favor quite like quality, life-like decoys.

There are always exceptions for any situation, especially when dealing with turkeys. But after a few years of taking shots on the edge of my effective range and at uneasy longbeards that seem to know something just wasn't quite right with the vaguely turkey-like structures they came to investigate, I decided to invest in quality decoys and have been blown away by the results ever since.

Ever since I ponied up the cash and got well made, highly-detailed decoys, my shots have been closer and the fooled longbeards have nearly always been completely distracted by the convincing fakes. I've been able to get drawn and settle in for an effective shot much more easily. Having the extra time for shot execution with their attention completely off me and my hiding location has made all the difference in my archery turkey success.

One thing I have learned chasing turkeys with a bow is there will be surprises. They are wild animals after all and they follow their instincts as well as any in North America, so they can only be predictable to a point. Proper scouting, attention to detail and the right setup can stack the odds in your favor enough to put you in range and at full draw of a longbeard this spring.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Daybreak Whitetail Bowhunt

Daybreak Whitetail Bowhunt

Bowhunter TV Editor Derek Mleynek has a chance to fill his buck tag on a mixed bag hunt in Texas.

New for 2021: Hoyt RX-5, RX-5 Ultra, Ventum 30 and Ventum 33

New for 2021: Hoyt RX-5, RX-5 Ultra, Ventum 30 and Ventum 33

ATA 2021 NeDuring this video from the Archery Trade Association's New Product Premiere showcase, Bowhunter's TV Mike Carney visited with Evan Williams, pro staff manager for Hoyt Archery, to learn about the new RX-5, RX-5 Ultra, Ventum and Ventum 33 bows.w Product - Hoyt

Tree Saddle Hunting: Best New Climbing-Stick Attachment Options

Tree Saddle Hunting: Best New Climbing-Stick Attachment Options

The array of ultra-strong, easy-to-use, light and quiet aftermarket stick attachment options has never been more creative and compelling. The noisier, heavier, harder-to-conveniently-wrap-on-your-sticks metal buckle and strap is anathema for today's mobile hunter.

New for 2021: Rage Broadhead, Nockturnal Nock, Carbon Express Arrows

New for 2021: Rage Broadhead, Nockturnal Nock, Carbon Express Arrows

New for 2021, here's a look at the new Rage Trypan NC, Nockturnal Shift Nock, Carbon Express Maxima RED Contour and D-Stroyer PileDRIVER arrows.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

New tree saddles, platforms, sticks and more provide greater efficiency and enjoyment when tree saddle hunting.Tree Saddle Hunting Gear Round-Up - Best of the Best Treestands & Blinds

Tree Saddle Hunting Gear Round-Up - Best of the Best

Mike Carney - November 23, 2020

New tree saddles, platforms, sticks and more provide greater efficiency and enjoyment when...

Inspired by “Buzzwinkle,” a lit up moose in Anchorage, this Apple and Cheddar-Ale Moose Burger Recipe is sure to be a delicious party on your taste buds with every bite.Apple and Cheddar-Ale Moose Burger Recipe Recipes

Apple and Cheddar-Ale Moose Burger Recipe

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

Inspired by “Buzzwinkle,” a lit up moose in Anchorage, this Apple and Cheddar-Ale Moose Burger...

The public needs to understand the value of harvested and consumed wild game.Understanding the Value of a Wild Game Harvest Industry

Understanding the Value of a Wild Game Harvest

Dr. Dave Samuel

The public needs to understand the value of harvested and consumed wild game.

The biggest day of the new year for bowhunters is here. Here's your first look at the latest batch of hunting rigs.New Hunting Bows for 2021 ATA Show

New Hunting Bows for 2021

Tony J. Peterson - January 13, 2021

The biggest day of the new year for bowhunters is here. Here's your first look at the latest...

See More Trending Articles

More How-To

It's important for bowhunters to adapt to the ever-changing scenarios & shot angles on the fly. Treestand Shot Selection for Bowhunters How-To

Treestand Shot Selection for Bowhunters

Tony J. Peterson

It's important for bowhunters to adapt to the ever-changing scenarios & shot angles on the...

Here are a few off-season maintenance, storage and photo organizing tips. Storing Your Trail Cameras & Organizing Photos Scouting Tools

Storing Your Trail Cameras & Organizing Photos

Curt Wells

Here are a few off-season maintenance, storage and photo organizing tips.

Bowhunting whitetails on the open plains can provide several unique challenges.How to Hunt Whitetails in Open Country How-To

How to Hunt Whitetails in Open Country

Joe Blake

Bowhunting whitetails on the open plains can provide several unique challenges.

If you desire peak performance from your hunting bow, learn these skills.Bow-Tuning Techniques for Peak Performance Bows

Bow-Tuning Techniques for Peak Performance

Joe Bell

If you desire peak performance from your hunting bow, learn these skills.

See More How-To

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Bowhunter App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Bowhunter subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now