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News Targeting turkeys from a stand: Tips for bowhunters

With the turkey season extension in effect for fall 2020, archery deer hunters have a new opportunity to hunt both deer and turkey during the entire archery deer season. Read on to get tips for fall turkey hunting and don’t forget your turkey permit!
9/24/2020
  • Division of Fisheries and Wildlife

Media Contact for Targeting turkeys from a stand: Tips for bowhunters

Marion Larson, MassWildlife

flock of turkeys in the fall

When it comes to fall hunting, turkeys aren’t usually the first game species that hunters think of. After a 2020 regulation change, archery hunters in Massachusetts can now take advantage of overlapping archery deer and archery turkey seasons. This expansion allows regular archery deer hunters a chance to harvest a turkey (1 of either sex) that may wander past their tree stand. Who wouldn’t want to take a turkey just before Thanksgiving without sacrificing time in their deer stand?

Pursuing turkeys from a tree stand is quite different from traditional hunting methods, but very practical for an enterprising archery deer hunter. Keep the following tips in mind while hunting from a stand in the fall.

Be still in the stand, don’t get busted! Turkeys have some of the best vision of any animal in the woods. They see the full color spectrum, have a nearly 300-degree field of vision, and are always alert for threats. During the fall they are almost always in a flock, which means that dozens of sharp eyes will be watching for danger. Use extreme caution with your movements when turkeys are near—even reaching for your bow can alert turkeys of your presence and cause them to move off. If you are still enough (and lucky enough) for a flock to come within your effective archery range, it is then extremely difficult to draw your bow without being detected. Pick a time to draw when the flock is not alarmed and when your movements will be obstructed by vegetation or other landscape features. Hold your draw until a lethal shot opportunity presents itself. You can increase your chances for success by practicing at home and modifying your draw weight. Draw and hold your bow for increasingly longer intervals while maintaining accuracy.

Never shoot a walking turkey! Turkeys have extremely small vital areas, so shot placement and accuracy are everything. Unfortunately, turkeys rarely stay still for more than a few seconds when they are feeding and traveling. Make your shot when the bird pauses for a moment. Again, practice holding your draw at home before the season—the longer you can hold your bow back the better.

Practice with the gear you hunt with! Practice with the arrow/broadhead combination that you’ll hunt with before heading into the field. Sometimes broadheads will fly differently than field points so it’s critical to know where your arrows will hit when hunting. A broadhead used for deer will also be lethal on turkeys; the difference is that the vital area on a turkey is much smaller. Consider practicing from an elevated position (for both deer and turkey) to simulate the angles that you will encounter when hunting from a treestand.

Hunting season dates

View wildlife management zone (WMZ) map

Archery deer season

  • Zones 1 - 9: Oct. 19 - Nov. 28
  • Zones 10 - 14: Oct. 5 - Nov. 28

Fall turkey season

Zone

Oct 5-17

Oct 19-31

Nov 2-28

WMZ 1-9

No fall turkey hunting

Shotgun, muzzleloading shotgun, archery

Archery equipment only

WMZ 10-13

Archery equipment only

Shotgun, muzzleloading shotgun, archery

Archery equipment only

 

Licensing requirements

In addition to a MA hunting license:

  • An Archery Season Stamp is required to hunt deer during the archery deer season.
  • A Turkey Permit is required to hunt to hunt wild turkey.

Media Contact for Targeting turkeys from a stand: Tips for bowhunters

Division of Fisheries and Wildlife 

MassWildlife is responsible for the conservation of freshwater fish and wildlife in the Commonwealth, including endangered plants and animals. MassWildlife restores, protects, and manages land for wildlife to thrive and for people to enjoy.
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