Turkey hunting with a bow can be very challenging. It is even more challenging if you leave the pop-up blind at home. If running and gunning with stick and string sounds like fun to you, follow along as Joel Maxfield from Mathews Archery gives a few tips on how to tag a tom without using a pop-up blind.


Joel Maxfield kills longbeards in several states each spring. Many of the birds he puts in the freezer he kills without hiding behind the fabric of a blind. He uses trees, the lay of the land and woodsman skills to outsmart old gobblers. “My favorite thing to do is to run and gun with my bow. I call as I go, just like turkey hunters who use a gun do. The difference is the moment a gobbler responds to my call and is coming in close, I find the biggest tree I can and sit in front of it,” Maxfield explained.


Maxfield relies on the large tree to break up his outline when the gobblers come in. Once they are ultra close, he draws his bow. “I try to draw my bow when there is brush or trees between me and the birds, but that doesn’t always work. Sometimes they spook when I draw which is why I try to wait until they are close to my setup. Even if they do spook when I come to full draw, in many cases I will be able to kill the bird before it gets out of range,” Maxfield added.


Another thing Maxfield does is wait for a gobbler to go in to strut and face the opposite direction before drawing his bow. “A full turkey fan typically blocks the eyesight of the gobbler when I draw my bow. Sometimes I wait until he comes out of full strut before I draw; other times I shoot him right up the back end. Many bowhunters don’t realize that sending an arrow up a gobblers’ back end will typically bring him down extremely fast,” Maxfield noted.


Some bowhunters love to use decoys because they can bring birds in close. The problem is they sometimes spook birds. “I typically use decoys when I am running and gunning in the early season before the birds have been hunted hard. During the late season, I often leave the decoys at home because they can do more harm than good after the birds have been hunted a lot,” Maxfield said.
Maxfield says anyone bowhunting turkeys without a blind should plan to fail a few times. “This style of hunting is fun, but it can be very frustrating. Hunters need to keep pushing if they want to notch their tag,” Maxfield suggested.

*This blog was originally posted on

by Tracy Breen