Wiley Tom at Work

If a turkey is gobbling by his own volition at mid-morning, he’s pretty killable. He’s out looking for a hen to breed or another tom to fight and all you really need to do is set up in the right spot, make sure he meets you there, and shoot him.

The Wiley Tom turkey decoy was a prototype in Montana Decoy president, CJ Davis’ vest as he stood leaning against a longleaf pine. A mosquito floated in front of his face, its persistent whine a nuisance to even the most patient person. He swatted the air with his right arm, the one leaning against the tree, and in doing so the shoulder strap of his vest pulled a long piece of scaly bark off the pine’s trunk with a loud cracking sound. A turkey gobbled. A shock gobble no doubt. It couldn’t have been more than 100 yards from where CJ now stood at full attention contemplating his next move. He wanted to get a feel for the tom’s tenacity and its general vicinity so he yelped lightly with his diaphragm call and got an immediate hammering response.

He quickly sat, his back on the same pine tree that’d held him upright. No time to set up a decoy. He slipped up his facemask and laid his shotgun across his knee and settled the stock into his right shoulder. Another quiet yelp, another quick response. He heard drumming. Then a dark shape came up over a rise 60 yards to CJ’s front left, the round body shuddering with each beat of that deep, mysterious drum. Another yelp, the same result. Except the tom didn’t come closer. Like a sentinel defending a great fort, he began marching back and forth on the rise. Too far to shoot, too stubborn to seek further the source of the call.

A young bird would’ve come right in without hesitation. An old bird lives by the first kiss rule: lean in 80 percent of the way, make her close the gap. CJ switched tactics from sound to sight. He’d at least try and infuriate the gobbler. Ever so slowly he slipped Wiley Tom from his vest and popped it open and held it with his right hand. The next yelp from his mouth was a bit louder and the gobbler quickly honed in on where WT stood mockingly. The gobbler wheeled 45 degrees on one foot and closed to 20 yards where CJ slipped off the safety, pulled the trigger and filled his tag.

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