Are you tweaking your turkey call? Have you patterned your shotgun? Do you have your knee pads in your turkey vest?
“Knee pads? Kayser must be sniffing his skull boiling pots again!” No, my European skull boiling marathon is coming up shortly, but I am serious about knee pads for aggressive turkey hunting.
Years back, turkey traditionalists frowned upon moving while calling and especially holding a decoy in your hand, and for good reason: You might get shot. Nevertheless, if your turkey hunting area is remote, controlled or you clearly advertise your intentions with blaze orange signals, you may want to put one of these tactics into play this season.
Fanning For Gobblers
If you haven’t seen this tactic, then crawl out of your cave, Neanderthal. I know this tactic works on the gullible Merriam’s subspecies in my backyard (watch this video). but this January, Westervelt Wildlife Services biologist Ryan Basinger shared a video with me showing how even savvy Alabama eastern gobblers can fall to this ploy. For this tactic to work, you need to preserve a past fan, hide out and then show it when a gobbler approaches your calls. Hiding behind a berm or mound works great, as gobblers are mesmerized by the slowly moving fan. Study turkey behavior, mimic the fan movement and get ready to shoot.
Turkey Puppet Tricks
This is a trick I’ve used for decades on the South Dakota prairie. Instead of using a fan, I use the entire decoy. When I meet up with a stubborn gobbler I don’t sit in place long. I grab my decoy and crawl—thus the knee pads. When I get to an area where I think the gobbler can see the decoy, I put it up on my arm or hold the stake high. I then slowly twist the decoy, and it usually doesn’t take long for a poultry pounding. As shown in this rough video, the puppet trick tactic is how my daughter shot her gobbler last spring … and yes, it was super exciting!
Turkey On A String
For safety, you can do the same trick from a stationary hideout or blind simply by placing your decoy on a rocking or rotating platform. Next, tie a string to the body to create movement even when the breeze isn’t blowing. If you want to make it even easier, try the Lifeline 360 from Zink. You can even rig a tail to move; from my experience, it’s the best option of all. A hen decoy in breeding position with a jake decoy nearby raising and lowering its tail will drive any tom crazy.
Lastly, if you hunt with a partner and encounter a babbling gobbler that’s too chicken to close the distance, then make a move. Leave your partner in place or have them move to and fro in the background while calling. As they keep the gobbler’s attention you need to swing around using cover and then stalk the gobbling tom using his calls as location cues. Now’s when an effective long-range pattern from your shotgun could pay off.
Aggressive is the new norm in turkey hunting, but even so, hunt safe. Make sure nobody is stalking you, and use blaze orange to make your presence known Most of all, have fun!