After the shot, don’t take your eyes off the turkey. Quickly and safely get to the downed bird to make sure it’s dead, or to take a second shot if it’s not.
Turkeys are high-strung birds that can move quickly. A lot can happen between when you take a shot and when your bullet or arrow hits the bird that can lead to a wounded bird. You’ll want to be ready to take a second before the bird can run or fly away.
When turkey hunting with a shotgun, keep the gun in a ready position, pointed at the bird, even if the turkey is down. When a turkey is first hit, it may fall to the ground in shock. However, if it's only been wounded, the bird’s likely to come to and try to run or fly off. When this happens, you’ll want to deliver another shot as soon as possible.
When approaching a downed turkey, don’t mistake a flopping, head-shot turkey for one that’s trying to get away. Firing a second, but unnecessary shot, will just put more shotgun pellets into the meat of the bird.
When turkey hunting with a bow, have an arrow nocked and ready for a follow-up shot. If hunting from a ground blind, the terrain may determine if you need to get out of the blind to take a second shot, or if you can take another shot from within the blind.
If you’re in flat, short-grass terrain, you may be able to see the turkey moving away and get a second shot off from within the blind. In taller grass or rolling terrain, it may be quicker and more efficient to get out of the blind (quickly) in order to track the bird for a second shot.
A turkey taken with a shotgun usually drops on the spot -- a head shot is quickly lethal. However, even a well-placed shot with an arrow may only wound a bird that can run or fly away after being hit.
In these cases, you may need to follow the bird to recover it or take a second shot. Start by keep you eye on the bird until it’s out of sight, so you’ll know where to start looking.
Turkeys don’t leave much blood when they’ve been hit so look for tracks, loose feathers, or bent grass and brush. If there’s dew on the grass during a morning hunt, it can be a good clue to the turkey’s location.
Wounded turkeys often hide in thick cover. They’ll get under briars, dense brush and heavy grass. Search these places closely for your bird.
When tracking a turkey, assume you’ll need a follow-up shot. Have your shotgun ready, or an arrow nocked, and walk safely but cautiously to where you last saw the bird.