The Big Tom: A Ground Blind and A Vision

The best know turkey hunting is unpredictable. Read about Doug Guthrie's success in bagging a memorable turkey using the compact Ravin R18.

Every season, flocks of toms and hens elude hunters in all manner of wooded and open-plain environments. In this installment of Ravin Success Stories we speak with Doug Guthrie from Ravin about his tom that took some coaxing to take, and how it ultimately became one of his favorite hunts in recent memory. It’s a story about how a little guile can go a long way in the ground blind, and how an extremely compact crossbow can help you fill a tag with deadly accuracy.

What kind of property were you hunting, Doug?

A hunting partner had bought 330 acres a few years back, and we’ve been developing it with food plots, which helps make it primed for good turkey hunting. It’s a mix of dense, wooded acreage and fields. The spring turkey hunt is a nice transition into the warmer months. Especially in Wisconsin. I was hunting from a ground blind, and it took a few days of hunting to find the right spot. Without the right weather, wind, calling, toms get spooked easily so it’s a bit of patience and a bit of luck if you’re looking for a big tom to get within shooting distance with a crossbow. I worked a few different spots, and the first couple just didn’t work out for whatever reason. And then one morning this tom showed up about ten yards outside my blind.

Was there anything specific you were expecting the morning you shot this trophy?

The turkey population has grown quite a bit over the previous couple years so there was a good chance I'd have a shot at one. A tom and two jakes, they walked right into my decoys. Both the jakes did a quick spin-around and the tom was right there, and I took him at about ten yards. Another interesting observation about this flock is that they seem much hardier than I thought when it comes to surviving predators and our harsh winters. I always say turkeys are as much fun as they are frustrating to hunt because they’re walking around scared all the time [laughs]. Everything is trying to kill them from the ground and the air. Like I said, this flock seems very hardy, and if they can sustain themselves as a population there’s a good chance you can fill a tag during the season. But I had no real expectations–that’s hunting. You get out into the woods or a field and hope for the best.

Which Ravin crossbow do you prefer for turkey hunting?

I use the R18 because it’s just so easy to carry and lightweight. It’s extremely compact, and works really well out of a ground blind. Or, if you’re doing more of a run and gun style of hunt it just makes you more agile. The less a tom can see of you the better, even when it comes to your crossbow. I had the R18 mounted on a tripod, and then my camera next to me. I could quickly manipulate the camera and then get behind the R18 to adjust it smoothly and quietly into position. Depends on how long you’re sitting, but I find that kind of setup gives me freedom to move  without being seen.Another thing you have to think about with the R18—and all Ravin crossbows—is that you’re storing so much energy in such a compact way you have to treat it the same as a firearm. You need to have situational awareness and safety top of mind. It has the same safety and fire switch as you’d have on your deer hunting rifle. I am a hunter safety instructor as well so it’s important for people to understand how to respect their power.

What were the specs of this tom? 

The tom had an 8 inch beard and was shot from roughly 10 yards away.