The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio


April 8, 2013

Outdoors Insider, with Dale Sunderlin: Lampreys the target of program


Dupe ’em with deaks

Decoys may help you bring that bird closer. In fact, you’d better have some fakes on the ground if you hope to call in the big birds at all, especially in open-field settings.

Farm hunting conditions differ in many aspects from those in the big woods pursuit of toms, but the most obvious and thus most crucial is the fact that turkeys can easily zero in on your calling position. You can hide among trees in big woods and soften your calls to make that tom believe that you’re over the next little ridge or around the next point but not so in farm country. A call in open fields or small woodlots can be pinpointed and if a tom sees no turkeys making your love talk, don’t expect him to come in.

And more decoys are better than fewer. Boss gobblers are greedy when it comes to females; the more there are in his circle of receptive hens, the better he enjoys life. Two hen decoys will work nicely, but three or four will work better. Place a Jake in the mix, and you’ll have a bunch of "talking" turkeys that a tom can’t resist.

As mentioned earlier, lightweight decoys that move in the wind seem to be a preferred choice at present. Movement adds to the realism you endeavor to achieve with decoys, and that added realism will almost certainly vastly improve your chances of bagging a bird.

The setup

Farms can be surprisingly devoid of cover. Modern-day farming uses every available piece of land, leaving no weedy edges or fencerows as part of the landscape. If turkeys live in the small patches of woods near these farms, they’ll notice anything out of place in the open land. Fence posts are a setup choice, but it seems they never fully hide a human body, and a turkey knows that a fat post doesn’t fit among skinny ones.

Sometimes a small depression in the ground (even a small hole) is a better place for a hunter to set up his ambush. With decoys in place, and knowing the direction from which the tom will approach, lying on the ground is the logical choice. Whatever you settle on had better be comfortable, because you may be in that position for a long time — and it had better be safe (a topic that we’ll return to shortly).

To provide summer shade for livestock, farmers often leave solitary trees or small groups of large trees along field edges and in the middle of pastures. These are sensible places to set up with your decoys, especially if you’ve scouted the turkeys in these areas and know that they pass nearby.

Areas with water, in ponds or lakes or even troughs, can offer other smart setup points if a workable place to hide can be found there. A ditch would be a great place for your hideaway, as would a thick clump of brush, or crop fields already experiencing the growth of spring.

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