Wild Turkey Hunting and Tools of the Dupe

Fifteen years ago, hunters had few options in decoys that were both portable and realistic. Tactics were fewer: Lug a decoy to the woods, stake it in a clearing and call. Sometimes it worked, but mostly it anchored you to your ill-chosen spot.

Nowadays you don’t have to stake your success on an ungainly deke when better options abound. Indeed, some innovative new dupes don't require a turkey decoy at all.

Top Secret Tactic

Some gobblers habitually hang in the center of vast fields. While it's likely more productive to find an easier bird, shirking such a challenge isn't in your nature. To bag this bird, you must be creative.

In the 1984 slapstick movie "Top Secret" spies infiltrate a Nazi stronghold using a cow suit to sneak across an open field. Lucky for you, Montana Decoy makes a packable cow silhouette called the Big Red Moo Cow. Scout where the gobbler struts, set it up before dawn and use it as a bovine blind. Or try the ole' "hide-behind-and-hoof-it" technique. Yes, you'll feel utterly ridiculous, but when used where cattle and turkeys cohabitate, it's effective. Sporting? Judge for yourself. Just please destroy this article after reading.

Birds of a Feather

Professionally stuffed doppelgangers are neat, but they're also costly, fragile and burdensome, and I like to run and gun--where being mobile helps me out-maneuver a turkey if it decides to veer from my calls on a whim. Montana’s Miss Purr-Fect 3D hen has all the realism of a stuffer, yet because it’s made of fabric, it’s lightweight and lower cost. And did I mention that fabric is printed with an actual photograph of wild turkey hen? It'll make your heart lurch with surprise each time you glance at it, and it'll never flap and spin like a flyaway windsock. Plus it’s so lightweight and folds up so small you’ll forget you’re carrying it until you need it.

Give 'Em the Fan

One of the slickest spring woods tactics since the shock call is the tailfan technique, also now called "reaping." It’s mobile and it works ... sometimes. It should also be used with extreme caution.

The tactic is to use a tailfan or decoy to mask yourself from a gobbler as you simply walk toward him. With luck you'll get in range before he figures out it's you behind the mask. You can make your own from an actual gobbler tailfan, but the Wiley Tom is so convincing you could put it on your wall and save yourself all the trouble--albeit all the fun too! If you want something a little more price sensitive and aren't worried about using real feathers, check out the Fanatic.

Reality Bites

If you must bag a turkey at all costs, buy a Nature Blind, set it up where turkeys live, ensconce yourself in it and wait. But before doing so, place a flock of decoys around it and pour yourself another cup of joe. Bring your four-year-old and let him do jumping jacks. Turkeys seem smart when they don't fall for your calls, but they can't fathom that there may be something sinister dwelling in the large, newly erected object in their living room.

The Nature Blind Hero is a Hollywood-prop-like unit that costs $4,000 and looks like a tree stump fit for Keebler elves. Hide in it, kill a boss gobbler, then emerge and go home—or not. Reality is, you might rather live there than face your spouse after springing for this brand-new ruse.

-Jeff Johnston

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