Runnin’ and Gunnin’ for Bow Birds - #7 "Calculated Killer" Ft. Clint Casper

April 13, 2023 6 min read

Runnin’ and Gunnin’ for Bow Birds - #7 "Calculated Killer" Ft. Clint Casper

Turkey Bow Hunting Ft. Clint Casper 

By: Clint Casper 

When it comes to the term “runnin and gunnin” in the turkey world, we often immediately think about shotguns and no blinds! This is an extremely effective way to kill turkeys AND my absolute favorite way to hunt turkeys in general. But, I’m a total archery nut and bowhunting has been the only way for myself, the last ten plus years! So I needed to figure out how to incorporate my love for bowhunting, with an effective way to kill turkeys AND STILL BE MOBILE! My run and gun with a bow mentality was born, shortly after! But a ton of questions arose from this madness! Things like; do I bring decoys? How do I setup for a Tom coming in? What kind of calls will be most effective for this style of turkey hunting? Etc. So for the last seven years, this is the only kind of turkey hunting that I have done and through trials and tribulations I have figured out a solid plan of attack for these bow birds! Let’s dive into a few keys to YOUR success for YOUR next run and gun, turkey hunting adventure!

Right Tools, for The Right Job

The old saying goes like this, “the right tools for the right job make that job much easier” and in the world of run and gun bowhunting turkeys, I couldn't agree more! When it comes to this style of bowhunting turkeys I want to be as lightweight, mobile, efficient and effective, as humanly possible. Basically, what I’m sayin here is that I will NOT take anything with me, or put it into my turkey vest, that isn’t absolutely needed! For myself, I carry a few calls, which include one slate call, one box call, a few “locator calls” like a crow call and owl hoot, and a few different sounding mouth calls! Mouth calls are extremely important for my run and gun philosophy, because it allows me to call, but have both hands free! Learn the basics on a mouth call - yelps, clucks, purrs and how to cut!

 As far as decoys, more often than not I personally do not bring them with me! Typically I am bowhunting inside the timber and I want a bird to come “find me” so my shot opportunities are usually as a bird walks past me, looking for a hen. Some situations though, especially in farm country, where agricultural fields are king, call for decoys! In these situations I want a lightweight, collapsible hen and one Jake, that I can easily stuff into my vest! I’ll set it up so it looks like the jake is going to breed the hen and that will piss off even the most weary Tom!

 Another must have item here are good optics, a good bino harness with a rangefinder pocket and some sort of limb legs for your bow! All of these items make your life so much easier, when runnin and gunnin for bow birds! Optics let you see what’s around and an easily accessible rangefinder lets you get to full draw FAST! My bino harness keeps my optics and gear, like tags, wrenches, a lens cloth and even mouth calls, organized and at the ready! And the limb legs allow me to set my bow in front of me as I’m in position waiting on my Tom to appear!

Plan of Attack!

For running and gunning bow birds I typically like to do most of my hunting later on in the morning! If im hunting at first light, I try to pick a good fly down location and let the woods come alive on their own. Usually right off the rip in the mornings, can be challenging to break a Tom away from his hens, so I do not get too aggressive. If this is the only time I have available to hunt, then i will try to cut the flock off and get ahead of them, or pull the tom from his hen by calling to him! If i can hunt all morning I will sit back and watch/listen to make further plans for later on when the Tom breaks away from his hens and is on the prowl for a new girlfriend. This time frame is usually around the nine to noon mark!

 During this time frame my goal is to cover as much ground with my glass and legs, in search of a Tom who wants to play the game! I typically will make a large circle of the property that I'm able to hunt along the fringes and will blind call while doing so. What I'm attempting to do is sound like a real hen, walking around feeding and calling. This mimics what a real turkey would be doing this time of the day and my hopes are that a lonely tom hears my calls and gobbles back!

Sometimes I will also use a "shock" call like an owl hoot, or a crow call during this time of the day to try to SHOCK a Tom into giving away his location by gobbling. This is similar to getting a bird on the roost to gobble, only now they're on the ground. Typically, once a bird gobbles once, he can be coaxed into getting fired up and this is exactly what we're looking for!

Setting Our Trap

So here's our scenario! We've finally found a bird that wants to play the game with us and is gobbling back to our calls. He's now figured out where our location is and we've figured out his as well, so half of the battle is already won. From here, we now must make educated guesses, to further set the trap to get this bird killed!

If we've decided to bring a decoy with us, if we are in semi open, or open terrain we can use the decoy to our advantage. This can be a very deadly tactic, as we will want to set the decoy up 10 to 15 yards away and facing us, so that way the bird circles the decoy and gives us a great opportunity to draw our bow undetected before the shot!

If you're in the timber, or have chosen to not bring a decoy, which is typically what I do, then we must have a very strategic plan on how we will get back to full draw! What I like to do is scan the surrounding area and think like a turkey. What I mean by this is I'm looking for game trails, holes in fences, openings in the timber, logging roads etc or anything that will make a Tom want to come in to our ambush location! Turkeys like to see and they like open terrain features inside the timber, so they can use their keen eyes to their advantage! Stay away from super thick areas of vegetation, or places that make it difficult for a turkey to get too! Fences, deep creeks and steep ravine walls can all make a bird hangup and not commit to coming in!

Once I've figured out a few easy routes that the bird may take, I'm now ranging spots and picking my ambush location! I want to be in a spot where I'm concealed and where I can get drawn, as the bird is either walking past me, OR walking away! Drawing as the bird is facing you will almost always end in disaster, as he will catch your movement!

Sealing The Deal

It’s GAME ON and we need a score! If our bird has decided to give us his location and is gobbling back and fired up I now like to throw one last trick at him! I give him the old, “silent treatment”! Just like a woman can be driven nuts by her man not giving her attention, this Tom turkey is no different! We’ve got him all hot and bothered and then go silent, which makes him even more fired up by frantically searching for his new girlfriend! By him walking around and gobbling let’s us know his position and gives us time to get drawn and be ready for him to walk into our set! Turkeys have great hearing and know exactly where our sounds came from, so don’t worry, he will come in and he probably will be all fired up, but just remember he doesn’t know exactly what tree this “hen” is behind. So as he’s peeking around and looking for her, it’s now time to get him killed!

 In closing, this style of bowhunting for Turkeys is about as fun as it gets and as adrenaline filled as it comes! Give this technique a try this spring and go Run and Gun down a bow bird!

ABOUT: Clint Casper is a calculated straight up big buck killer, host of the CC Hunt Files with Working Class Bowhunters, and long term outdoor/hunting writer. He just recently added this Mobile Venatic column to his long resume! Clint is easing into saddle hunting...listen here

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