By Naomi K. Shapiro
While most hunters will take the comparatively "easy route" and use a gun to hunt wild turkeys, there are good numbers of intrepid hunting enthusiasts who like the idea of a true challenge: Turkey hunting with a bow. It's tough. It takes practice. It can often result in getting nothing.
While there are many excellent broadhead arrows, a growing number of hunters are using the guillotine arrow. And in the good old USA, it's pronounced "gill-ah-teen."
A guillotine arrow has a blade which normally opens up upon impact, and when used properly with the right shot will literally take a turkey's head off. Thus called the "gill-ah-teen." And yes, it will also work for a body shot, but is not usually used for that purpose, because a body shot with a guillotine arrow can punch such a large hole in the body of the turkey that it can literally ruin the breasts, if struck there. A head shot preserves the entire bird.
To be any good with this type of hunt, you had better practice on targets and be extremely schooled in where the shot should land. The turkey's head is the most vulnerable part of the bird, but it also the singularly most difficult shot to place. There are a couple of written-in-stone "rules of engagement": Make sure the bird is within ten to twenty yards -- twenty yards is absolute max range -- ten is best.
To get a wary turkey in that close, 99% of bow hunters will use a ground blind. It can be a store-bought, pop-up-style tent-like structure; or hunters often put up a makeshift blind constructed out of tarps and sticks; or simply stack up some brush and tree branches. The purpose is to TOTALLY conceal yourself. You must do this because, unlike hunting with a gun, where all you have to do is use your finger and pull a trigger, using a bow requires a lot of movement, and, unless you're perfectly concealed, the turkey will spot you instantly.
The rewards of turkey bow hunting with a guillotine arrow include the satisfaction and knowledge that few do it -- and fewer yet do it well – and, of course, a quick, clean kill is guaranteed. Just remember: "Practice makes perfect" when it comes to turkey bow hunting -- or at least it'll give you a fleeting chance (ask ANY turkey bow hunter how "easy" it is to get a bird) at accomplishing something comparatively few others have done or even attempted.
(Phil Schweik of Hooksetters Guide Services contributed to this article).