Patrick Meitin has degrees in journalism and range and wildlife management. He’s been an outdoor writer, specializing in bowhunting, for more than 20 years. An expert with both traditional and modern archery equipment, Meitin lives in northern Idaho with his wife, Gwyn, and their two Labrador retrievers.
What's The Ideal Turkey Broadhead?
Bowhunting turkeys, as I've discussed previously, depends on having the right gear. This is especially true when it comes to choosing broadheads. Choosing the best broadheads for turkeys is all about punching a big hole, to a lesser extent knocking the bird for a loop. Oddly enough, in regard to turkeys you want broadheads that are, well, inefficient (for lack of a better term). Inefficient in this context means heads that shed arrow energy on impact. They fill the prescription of less penetration and more imparted shock.
In turkey hunting, leaving arrows in birds is a big plus, as it hinders flight or sprints through heavy cover. Some of this comes automatically; turkeys are relatively small and "give" on impact, absorbing arrow energy normally used to drive arrows deeper. Too, heavy wing quills prove fairly effective armor, and broadhead are blades forced to cut substantial fiber to access vitals. Still, you want broadhead designs with aggressive cutting diameters and/or attack angles. Cutting diameter is self explanatory; attack angle refers to cutting-edge attitude when fully deployed. Efficient broadheads slice; inefficient designs chop.
Here are some broadheads I've personally killed turkeys with and notes on performance:
-New Archery Products Spitfire Gobbler Getter: I've probably shot more turkeys with this head than any other, losing, maybe, two birds out of dozens. This is essentially a Spitfire holding a blunted tip designed to smash bone, but also acting to slow penetration. It includes a 1 1/2-inch cutting diameter, which I consider minimal with compound bows.
-Trophy Ridge Rocket Aeroheads Hammerhead: This is a mechanical with a 2-inch cutting diameter and aggressive attack angle. It's deadly effective on turkeys. I've witnessed only two birds escape hits from Hammerheads; both were direct wing-butt hits that curled blades to prevent cutting action.
-Vortex/Mar-Den Mini-Max 3: The gobblers I've shot with these heads dropped in seconds with arrow always left in the bird. They're 7/8-inch closed, assuring instant deployment, opening to 2 inches. More importantly, the "L" shaped blades include a super-aggressive 90-degree attack angle when opened, imparting shock and impeding penetration dramatically.
-Rage: Any of the Rage broadheads prove reliable turkey medicine due to pure cutting diameter, normally in the 2-inch range, though pass-through normally results. The brand-new "Turkey" versions should remedy this situation.
-G5 Outdoors Striker Magnum: The 125-grain head includes an aggressive 1 1/2-inch fixed-blade diameter -- also welcomed in states where mechanicals are not legal. I've shot many recurve turkeys with them, 50 percent leaving the arrow in the bird.
-Eastman Outdoors First-Cut Magnum: Another 125-grain head, it included a 1 1/8-inch fixed, cut-on-contact main plus cross-cutting 1 3/8-inch mechanical blade. It was my favorite recurve turkey head but it has (foolishly) been discontinued -- though it frequently still appears on eBay.
-Grim Reaper: It comes in 125 grains, and includes a cutting tip and less aggressive 1 3/8-inch cutting diameter, perfect for traditional bows with lower delivered energy. The birds I've hit with it were all recovered easily.
-Thundervalley Archery Snuffer: For the heavy-tackle traditional boys, it's difficult to beat a Snuffer. It's big and nasty with three blades, 1 1/4- to 1 15/32-inch cutting diameters and weights from 125 to 185 grains.