By Bob Humphrey
The basic premise of spring turkey hunting is to mimic the sound and sight (with decoys) of a hen turkey in hopes of attracting a gobbler. It’s a pretty effective tactic but if that’s all you do, you may be missing out on potential opportunities when the birds aren’t cooperating. Nothing fires up a randy gobbler like competition, and sometimes a switch in gender is all that’s needed to turn the tables on a tentative tom.
Gobble - In addition to an assortment of slate, box and mouth calls, carry a gobble tube. When your sexiest yelps, clucks and purrs won’t pull a longbeard in, imitate a potential rival by gobbling at him. But don’t overdo it. Elk hunters will tell you it’s better to sound like a timid, young satellite bull than a big herd bull. The same applies to turkeys.
Decoys - Many folks probably already do this without realizing it, but when the competition is hot, a gobbler decoy can be a lot more effective than a hen. If you put out multiple decoys, make sure at least one is a male. And place that one closest to you. Nine times out of ten a gobbler will approach a jake or tom decoy first. And the tenth time he’ll go between them trying to separate the rival from the hen.
Be Bold - Folks who put out multiple decoys often use several hens and a jake. And that’s consistent with our gobbling philosophy of trying to attract without intimidating. But sometimes you have to be bold. Even the most reluctant longbeard may throw caution to the wind if he sees an adult tom in full strut. This is what makes full-bodied decoys like the B-Mobile and Pretty Boy so effective. In tall grass you can sometimes even get away with just a tail fan.
Be Safe - In all cases safety should be foremost in your mind, but that’s especially true when using male turkey decoys and calls as odds of attracting another hunter are even greater. The above tactics are not advisable on heavily hunted public land. Even on private land with limited access you should be aware of what’s going on around you. Set up against a safe backdrop and make your presence known if you see or hear another hunter approaching.