There are two schools of thought when it comes to selecting a broadhead for turkey hunting — Old School and New School.
Old School guys shoot essentially the same replaceable-blade heads they shoot for deer and similar big game. Their theory is simple and hard to refute — why change their set-up when they shoot it well, their broadheads have razor-sharp blades, and if it is good enough to cleanly kill a 200-pound deer, why wouldn’t it be good enough to kill a bird that weighs one tenth of that?
New School guys may or may not (but probably do) shoot mechanical broadheads at deer, and for sure they shoot them at turkeys. Their theory is also simple and hard to refute — modern mechanical broadheads are the best they have ever been, for the most part their blades are sharp as scalpels, they fly great, and their super-wide cutting diameter will punch a huge hole in a turkey’s chest.
Which one is right? And which are you?
To answer the first question, both are right. Whatever you can do to precisely place scalpel-sharp blades through a gobbler’s vitals with enough kinetic energy to pass through both sides of the bird — never an issue — is a good choice.
Last spring I killed six gobblers with a Hoyt Maxxis set at a tick under 70 lbs. loaded with 28 ½-inch Gold Tip 5575 shafts tipped with both mechanical and replaceable-blade broadheads. I wanted to see for myself if there was any real difference in terminal performance.
I killed three birds with the same 100-grain Thunderhead with which I have killed countless big game animals. In fact, I used the same ferrule on all three birds, simply changing out the blades after each turkey, then shooting it into a foam broadhead target one time at 20 steps to make sure it was still flying perfectly. To nobody’s surprise, it was. I used two different 100-grain mechanicals, the 2-blade Swhacker on one bird and 3-blade New Archery Products Gobbler Getter on two. In only one instance did a bird run more than 50 yards after the shot.
That was a big gobbler I snuck up on in a South Dakota river bottom and shot quartering-away from me at about 10 steps with the Swhacker. The shot was perfect, entering through the left drumstick and exiting right under the right wing butt. The arrow remained in the bird, which ran about 75 yards before running out of gas. All the other died within 30 yards of where they were hit.
As I travel around the country during turkey season I see more and more archers loading up with mechanical heads. Popular choices include the Swhacker; Rage; G5 Tekan and Tekan II; New Archery Products Spitfire, Scorpion XP, Shockwave and Gobbler Getter; Wasp Jackhammer SST; Mar-Den Vortex; Rocket Steelhead XL, Ultimate Steel, Miniblaster, and Meat Seeker; Game Tracker First Cut EXP and Silvertip; G-5 F-15 Dual Blade; Grim Reaper Razortip and Razorcut SS; Cabela’s Lazer Strike; and Aftershock Archery HyperShock and the like all good choices.
Those who like to go radical have been shooting the Gobbler Guillotine from Arrowdynamic Solutions, which is designed to literally take a bird’s head right off. Broadhead weight is not important, except in terms of how it affects the accuracy of your bow. Accurate arrow flight and razor-sharp blades are what’s important.
Some bowhunters like to put a “stopper” behind their broadhead to inhibit penetration. The idea is that if the arrow shaft stays in the bird, it will both transfer 100 percent of its shocking power to the turkey, and with the shaft still in the body cavity it will be much more difficult for the turkey to flop or fly off before you can race out and pick him up. The Bateman Small Game Stopper, Zwickey Scorpio, and Muzzy Grasshopper are three excellent products for this.
After watching several archers shoot gobblers and with my own experiences I have come to believe that both schools of thought are right. It all boils down to your own preferences and what you feel comfortable shooting. To be honest, it took me a long time before I was comfortable shooting anything with a mechanical broadhead. I still lean toward the proven performance of the Thunderhead when it comes to big game hunting. This spring, though, for turkeys I am going with the NAP Gobbler Getter. I turned the poundage of one of my Maxxis big game bows down to about 65 lbs., then tuned it to shoot them like laser beams. Then, once turkey season is done for me and it is time to start chasing black bears, I’ll crank it back up to 70 lbs. and get it tuned and dialed in with a 125-grain Thunderhead.
What about you guys? What do you shoot for turkeys? Put your thoughts below this article and let me know. I’ll be sure to share everyone’s thoughts and experiences with all of you.