Once the leaves start popping, henned-up toms become formidable–yet beatable–adversaries.
Breeding Stage Clues
Occasional gobbling on the roost and dead silence thereafter are sure signs that your birds are henned up. During some springs, and in some regions with a high density of birds, this stage can last from opening day until season’s end–or at least it can seem that way.
Decoy to Use
With a dealer’s choice of hens to breed, staking out a single hen or even a flock of hens won’t get you so much as a second glance. By midseason, however, territories and pecking order will be firmly established. Any tom worth his beard will recognize pretenders to the throne at the first gobble. Now is a great time to break out the strutting longbeard or a tandem of squatting hen and half-strutting jake.
How & Where to Set Up
Make no mistake, full-bodied strutting turkey decoys are amazingly realistic; it’s best to avoid them if you’re hunting public land. On private land, go the extra yard in defensive hunting strategies. Set your strutter where it can be easily seen by approaching longbeards and where your line of sight is also clear.
How to Call ‘Em In
Just how effective are the new generation of full-bodied strutting gobbler decoys? One hunting guide in New York State tells of yanking in more than a dozen adult birds for his clients last season–without ever touching a turkey call. His trick? Motion. The young guide rigged his Primos B-Mobile decoy so that it pirouetted on its stake just as a live tom would dance around his hens. The results speak for themselves. Try soft yelping if using the strutter with a hen decoy or an occasional gobble or gobbler yelps if using the strutter alone.
Most hunters report that motion does indeed add a perfect bit of realism to full-bodied decoy sets. Try replacing silk fans with a real turkey fan–jake or adult. It can make a difference.