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Decoy Tactics For April Gobblers
Adjusting the way you use decoys to increase your odds of fooling a late-season tom this year. These tips should make the process easier. (April 2008) ... [+] Full Article
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Hunting Hill Country Houdinis

“The biggest problem I see with a lot of turkey hunters is just calling too much,” he confided. “They get around feeders or places where the birds are and they just talk too much, and the birds will come in around behind them or just kind of spook off and then that’s it. It used to be that turkeys were just kind of an add-on when somebody was out deer hunting (in the fall), but now we’re getting hunters from all over the country who are die-hards and all they want is to chase after turkeys.

“You don’t have to be a great caller, but the main thing is just to not do it as much as you think you need to. These birds have gotten smarter because of hunting pressure, there’s no doubt. But with today’s camouflage and having a good setup, you can overcome some of the variables. The one thing that does keep some hunters from being successful is trying to talk too much to a call-shy tom. And they’ll let you know when they’ve had enough!”

Quincy Weatherly of Salt Fork Outfitters also has years of hunting experience when it comes to turkeys. Here are some of his observations.

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“Knowing how to call really well or having the best hiding spot can both be great assets. But I’ve found that altering your decoy tactics can add to your success of seeing more birds and bringing them into range.

“Especially if you hunt a relatively small area hard at all, the turkeys are going to figure out what you’re up to. If you hunt the same turkeys over and over and stick out the same one or two decoys, they’re going to get the idea to stay away from those ‘other’ birds because bad things are going to happen if they get close.

“If you’re, say, trying to bring in a tom during the middle of the day when he’s gotten away from his hens, sticking out two or three hen decoys will obviously add to your chances that he’ll see one or all of them and come running to your calling.

“If you know that a dominant tom frequents an area and can’t find any other way to bring him in, you might stick out a couple of jake decoys. I’ve seen a number of big birds run in and blow up on the decoy, knocking it over because they thought some youngster was trying to get a leg up in their territory.

“The biggest thing I would tell people is turkey hunting isn’t easy. Even when things seem to come together on a quick hunt and you bag a bird, there’s still work that went into it. When the birds shut off calling sometimes, turkeys are as tough an animal to hunt as you can find. But that’s what makes it so fun to chase after them!”

While so-called turkey hunting experts are many, the truth is that the real experts are the longbeards themselves.

Hunters should take the approach that every hunt is a learning experience providing lessons that will be invaluable on later excursions. Bagging a big gobbler is the reason to spend time in the field this time of year, but without soaking up all the knowledge you can from your misses or mistakes, you’re not taking in all that turkey hunting has to offer. Taking your lumps, filing the results away and using that knowledge on your next hunt is the only true way to learn about turkey hunting when it comes right down to it.

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