WILD HARVEST: All Or Nothing Turkey Hunting

While hunting, turkeys don’t always do what we anticipate. To boost your chances of connecting, it’s valuable to learn how to make the most of any situation. All or nothing decoy tactics refers to two strategies I employ under a particular set of scenarios.

1. ALL: Attract every bird in a roost tree just after first light with a mega spread, and if they hang up or move off, find another way to get within range.

2. NOTHING: Cat-and-mouse-type calling strategies if your morning hunt fails, yet you have suitable terrain to intercept a responsive tom without the use of decoys.

All: I’d say my friend Tyson and my younger brother Alexei squeeze the most usefulness out of their turkey decoys compared to any other hunters I know.

Tyson is a crafty guy who paints his decoys to add realism to the head detail, and has also slowly created a spread of “stuffers” from birds he has harvested in the past. When hunting a scouted roost tree, Tyson deploys his fully feathered decoy flock for first light. He puts out a few hens and can swop the tail on this “strutting stuffer” between a jake and a tom to best suit the hunting scenario at hand, often armed with only archery tackle. This tactic has proved deadly, with a number of big, double and triple beard birds to his credit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My brother has adopted a more unorthodox tactic when hunting deep on private property, far away from roads or other hunters. Also using a stutter decoy for the dawn sit, Alexei employs one trick if the birds wander off or need to be stalked. With the big tom decoy in one hand directly in front of him, I have enjoyed watching Alexei crawl towards a strutting gobbler from across a large field, eventually and amazingly getting into shotgun range, planting the decoy and filling his tag! Sometimes the gobbler was distracted and just stood there, other times it become responsive, running over to confront the decoy – only to meet its fate.

Or nothing: Other times a decoy would have ruined my hunt and the best decision I made was to leave them behind all together.

I recall once spotting a lone tom from a long distance, working a corner of field near some timber, after an unsuccessful sit at first light. He was amongst some small brush piles along the edge of the field and I began making my way towards him. Upon having closed about half the distance, I watched the gobbler wander it into the trees. At first I was disappointed, thinking he might leave, but then I realized this could make for the perfect scenario. I had mapped the terrain and knew of an advantageous spot where a slope would force him close in the event I could get him to come looking for the source of my call. Once in position, I yelped and he gobbled in response, again and again. Soon I began to see to top of his tail fan coming into view over the rise through some trees.

Not seeing a hen (or decoy) he maintained his approach, scanning the brush piles I was concealed in, convinced there was a hen somewhere nearby. Curiosity must have got to him as he began closing the final distance, apparently deciding to check behind the brush pile for the hen he knew he heard. Disengaging the safely and preparing for the moment, I watched my target and couldn’t help but notice him staring behind, around or through me as he made his way. I was camouflaged and remained motionless and it was obvious he couldn’t see me. He was scanning for the hen he was certain was just around the corner, as he slowly walked into range. Pow!

I knew immediately that had I placed a hen decoy in the obvious spot in front of me, he most certainly would have hung up out of range, without needing to come any closer.

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