Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - 37

bler might not be able to resist.
I once begged several friends to borrow
decoys so I could use this tactic after
hunting a tough gobbler for a few days
and exhausting most of my tried-and-true
techniques.
Armed with an armada of fakes, I
staked the turkeys out before daylight and
waited for action. The boss came to the
field as he had been, and upon spotting the
harem of hens, cautiously came my way.
Once he was out of the picked cornfield
and into the clear, he upped his pace and
came in on a string.
Rattled by his reaction, I promptly
missed that bird three times, but proved
the setup's worth.
If you choose to use multiple decoys
in any number - excluding face-offs
- remember that turkeys tend to travel
together, so point them roughly in the
same direction. Scattering decoys can
work, but I don't find it as effective as
placing them in formation.

EARLY & LATE SEASON

As the season wears on, gobblers get
less aggressive, and your decoy setup
should reflect as much.
Late in the season, gobblers become
call-shy and - if they strut at all - often
half-strut when coming to calls. Using
a full-blown strutting gobbler decoy at
this time could be enough to scare off the
real thing.
Some gobbler decoys allow for lowering and raising the tail feathers, making
it appear the gobbler is puffing up and
strutting. Early in the season you should
raise the tail all the way up. As the season
progresses, and breeding wanes, start
raising it just over halfway, creating a
less-dominant posture.
Another reality many hunters overlook
is that gobblers get back together late in
MAY 2020	

SAFETY

FIRST

Today's decoys look so convincing that safety
always must be kept in mind.
Never carry the decoys through the woods.
The potential for another hunter suddenly to see
a lifelike turkey - especially a gobbler - invites
danger. Keep decoys under wraps until you set
them up.
Always place the decoys facing you. Most of
the time, turkeys - including strutting gobblers -
want to be seen and approach decoys in a way
that ensures that. This means your best shooting
opportunities result when decoys are facing you.
And while it's unlawful to stalk turkeys in
the spring season, if someone would attempt
to stalk your decoy, they'd likely approach from
an angle that would provide a head shot, which
means you'd likely see them as they're coming in
if the decoys are facing you. Even if you wouldn't,
you'd likely be out of their line of fire.
Also, cut off anything that looks like a beard
on a decoy. It's unnecessary, in my opinion.
And if another hunter mistakes the decoy as a
real turkey, the lack of a beard would make it
unlawful to pursue.
You also can add some unnatural color, such
as orange, to the feathers on a decoy. Some
decoys are manufactured this way, and the
additional color doesn't seem to have negative
effects on a real turkey's response.

the season and they might be looking for
male company as much as they're looking for hens.
Using a couple of gobbler decoys and
gobbler yelps might fetch a response as
quick as making hen talk at this time of
the year. But while a couple of decoyed
buddies can bring in a gobbler, it's usually
at a much slower pace compared to toms
coming to a hen call.
Be patient and wait him out, allowing
the decoys to do the work for you.
In many situations, using a decoy
can improve a hunter's chances in many
situations, and might make your season
go from tough to thrilling in a few short
minutes. Learn each time you go out and,
eventually, patterns will emerge that give
insight into which setups to use at given
times.
37



Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020

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Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - Cover3
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