Outfitting Your Outdoor Lifestyle
Outfitting Your Outdoor Lifestyle
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Home / Call ’em or crawl ’em???

Call ’em or crawl ’em???

July 17, 2015
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The 2015 spring turkey season has begun in many of the southern most states, and social media is stirring up pictures and stories of success from Florida to Mississippi! I find myself wishing I could get away from work just long enough to make an early run on some of these turkey lush states, especially Florida, for the obvious reason….osciolla turkeys!! I’ll make it down there one of these days…but until then, I will continue to enjoy the successes of many of my buddies who make the trek every year to the Sunshine State.

I have noticed a new trend in hunting turkeys over the last couple of seasons, and this year it seems to be even more popular. I am refering to what has been dubbed as “fanning” for turkeys… It has been or can be done in a few different ways, let me explain… The most likely place that this method has been used is a wide open field or strut zone… The “tool” used in this method is either a real or fake tail fan, or a strutter decoy, whether it is a stuffer or a fake. The hunter positions himself behind the fan or decoy, and uses the silhouette of it as a “hiding spot’ as he makes a move on a gobbbler. Using a subdominant fan from a jake, or even a full blown mature tom tail fan is proving deadly on unsuspecting gobblers everywhere these tactics are being deployed! There is even a video of an amish or menonite guy wearing his light blue shirt and crawling close enough to a group of toms to make them react aggressively and come charging right in to the decoy…he kills one within just a couple feet of his position!

Talk about a rush! The idea of getting so close to a turkey that you can count his eyelashes or smell his breath is like riding the highest, fastest roller coaster ride in a theme park for a die hard turkey hunter like myself, but I have my hesitations.

First, let’s talk about the shot…prior to hunting, most of us go to the range and pattern our weapons for the most effective shot we can obtain utilizing different shot sizes and choke tubes until we find the perfect match up..Even as bowhunters, we perfect our set ups to maximize performance in the field. Do you shoot your gun or your bow for that matter, at less than about 20 yards?? Ponder that for a moment.

Now, the idea of using a decoy has been around for a while…but we are taking it to a new extreme when we start using this thing to hide behind to close the distance on a turkey we are trying to kill…I venture to say that some of the “old timers” are wondering what in the world we are coming to…Isn’t it enough that we are sitting in the woods completely camofluaged from head to toe making noises with our mouth or hand made calls, mimicking the sounds of a wild turkey? We are trying to convince him into fall in love with us enough to come over and let us shoot him in the face… How many times have you called up another hunter in these situations? Even on private property I cannot count the times I have had guys slip in to my set up. Thankfully there has never been an accident, only an exchange of a few words a time or two.

Now, let’s put this together…this tactic, of fanning for turkeys…you are going to hide behind a fan, or decoy that looks like the animal you are pursuing…you are going to continue, in some cases, to call and mimic the animal that you are pursuing…and you are going to crawl yourself across an open space to close the distance on the animal you are pursuing. Stop there for a moment. Who else is around? Nobody? Are you sure? What about the locals that always seem to get their “fair share” of turkeys by driving up and down the roads, or crossing property lines, or using a varmint gun to “shoot coyotes” during the middle of turkey season? I wonder what you would look like to them through their scope as they are lining up to take a quick shot on the “easy target” in the middle of the field?? Come on, we have all seen the type. Making the sounds of a turkey, while dressed as a turkey, all the while trying to sneak close enough to shoot a turkey….this is a scenario that we all must consider before putting this tactic into play!

There are more and more hunters filming their hunts than ever before, and many of them are looking to get the next best piece of footage for their show! All of us are looking for that adrenaline rush of a gobbling turkey in range of our set up. But, how far are you willing to go for the thrill of turkey hunting? What chances are you willing to take to get that footage, or just the adrenaline rush? Is it worth the risk? Only you as an idividual can answer that question for yourself.

Let’s go back to the moment you are ready for the shot…How close is too close? What is your effective range? Do you like picking copper coated pellets out of the breast of your turkey? More often than not on the videos I have watched, these guys have had to “body shoot” a turkey because he was too close! Sure, dead is dead, but again, how much do you like picking out those pellets? Is there an increase in the margin of error for a shot this close? Are you likely to miss, or worse, wound one and not make a recovery? Again, answers to these questions are made as an individual.

At the NWTF Show this year there were dozens of different decoys from multiple manufacturers, and multitudes of calls and other turkey hunter’s must haves! One of the things this new tactic has done is to create a market place for “tools” to deploy this tactic more effectively. There was one that stuck out to me as a must have for the die hard “crawler”, it is simply called The Turkey Fan…find them on the web at theturkeyfan.com or go to facebook and see what they are doing. They have designed an “umbrella type” decoy that has a real image printed on it. You can open and close the “umbrella” to mimic a strutting tom going in and out of strut. They have even thought of the video guys with this one with a pocket that will hold your cell phone to allow you to film, or attach an accessory arm that will hold different cameras like the Tactacam or GoPro in a position to film thru the fan. This thing was 12 years in the making, and I hope to add one to my arsenal sometime soon.

Methods and tactics of turkey hunting are personal to each of us, as are different calls or even brands of camo. The one thing we can all agree upon is that chasing these birds every spring gets in your blood. It becomes part of who you are, something we have to do…These tactics should not be controversial, only matters of opinions by each of us as hunters.

I urge each of you to consider your surroundings when deploying whatever technique you prefer when setting up to turkey hunt, not just with “fanning”. Many of us know the story behind Josh Carney’s accident that left him paralyzed from the waste down, and this happened in a “traditional” set up. Accidents happen, but it is up to each of us to do our part in preventing them, no matter how you chose to hunt!

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