Turkey Hunting with Decoysby Matt Wettish
The morning was quickly passing me by as I drove away from the rising sun. I was late to the roost and was sick thinking about the consequences. It was my only day of hunting alone this season and it was already in the favor of Mother Nature. Upon my arrival to the site I had an incurable case of the fumbles. My shells were falling on the ground, my calls weren’t in the correct pockets, and I was doing everything in the loudest form of quiet imaginable. It reached the point where I just had to grab my gear and go. As I locked the truck and walked off, I thought of decoys. “I don’t need them; I’ve got to get goin’.” I immediately turned back knowing that if I didn’t have them I would most certainly need them. So I grabbed dekes and took to the woods.
After a brief walk I came to a small clearing that had been frequented by a nice mature gobbler. The bird’s roost area was down a hill in back of the clearing and his pattern would bring him up the hill gathering hens on the way. The idea was to catch him before he arrived, and especially before he gathered his hens.
Placing a decoy at an angle away from you can draw the attention away from your location, and in an open area, this can be very beneficial.
Photo by: Author
It was the instantaneous response to my first owl call that insured my setting up right in the clearing. His gobbles were close and the distance between us was diminishing steadily. Hen yelps accompanied his approach, forewarning me of competition, as well as more watchful eyes being on their way. My choices for set-up were scarce and my only option was to set up on a lone tree in the center of the clearing. The opportunities for movement or hiding my position were slim and none.
This ended up being the perfect scenario for a decoy setup. The decoys would take the attention, in a wide open area with little to no cover, and direct it to a source other than myself. I quickly staked out a couple feeding hen decoys along with a jake. The decoys were positioned about fifteen yards out in front of me, and slightly right towards my 2:00 position. The idea was to set the decoys in a position that would avoid having them in a direct line between myself and the approaching gobbler. Not doing this could enable the bird to pick up movement, glare or anything unnatural beyond the decoys and become spooked.
Having the decoys set up to my right would “hopefully” not only keep the attention of the myself, being a big camo blob at the bottom of a tree in the middle of the clearing, but also draw the bird into shooting range, and across a shooting lane in front of me for a good clean harvest. This would limit my need for movement and give me a much greater opportunity for success.
As I positioned myself against the lone tree, the bird continued to gobble on his own. The pieces were in place and it was time to play the game. With every response it was evident that things were going to happen, and happen fast. If he was going to present himself it was going to be any second. As the tom arrived at the scene, he positioned himself on the opposite side of a large knoll and taunted me with his nerve shattering spit-n-drum. After his barrage of gobbles as he approached, he developed a horrible case of lockjaw once in the clearing. He had reached his strutting area with his hens and he did it without me there to greet him. Although I was only about forty yards away, I could not see him. After an eternity of silence with no sign of his curiosity getting the best of him, I began to give some subtle purrs and putts on my Quakerboy mouth call to hopefully tweak his interest.