Gobbler chaser rethinking his whole no-decoy rule
I’ve written before that I rarely use a turkey decoy while hunting during the spring season. I prefer to keep the gobbler guessing about where his love interest may be hiding.
Nevertheless, I do appreciate good decoys – especially for ducks and geese – and a recent look at how well a friend’s turkey decoy worked for him has me rethinking my no-decoy rule.
Dustin Hall said he has shot a handful of turkeys but he recently took his first on his own property that he manages for wildlife near Lansing. It was a dandy gobbler with a nine-inch beard that came in with its one-inch spurs to attack Hall’s decoy.
A Tactacam mounted to the barrel of his single-shot, 10 gauge equipped with an extra-full turkey choke and loaded with a 3½-inch shell caught all of the action from the moment the bird strutted into the field.
Saying the bird strutted is an understatement. It came at Hall’s decoy at a quick pace, puffed up all the way, then hesitated only seconds before it jumped on and spurred the decoy several times.
The fact that Hall’s decoy is a mounted gobbler may have escalated the interaction. He said he was perusing the Internet recently and the stuffed turkey popped up in a Facebook ad. He bought it and put it to use this season.
The decoy agitated the gobbler so much that Hall missed the first time he shot. He squeezed the trigger just as the bird made another jump on his decoy. But the gun going off made no difference to the love-crazed turkey; it kept fighting the decoy while Hall broke his gun open, ejected the shell and loaded again.
“It didn’t faze it a bit,” Hall said. “Usually, if you look at them wrong, they’re gone, so to get two shots off and have it not even care…”
A nearby hen was not scared off by the commotion, either. Hall’s video shows her coming in between him and the gobbler as it flopped around after the second shot.
Hall said he has used rubber decoys in the past, and when he saw one that had been modified by someone who added a turkey tail fan, it got him thinking about using a mounted bird.
“I’ve always done more of a spot-and-stalk hunt,” he said, noting that he’ll find a bird, try to figure out where it is headed and wait for it to arrive. “This is the first one that I consider to be called in.”
While the turkey did gobble once in response to Hall’s slate call, one look at the decoy was all it took to bring the bird into range.
Hall got into his hunting blind around 8 a.m. but didn’t shoot the bird until three hours later. In between, he watched a rooster pheasant strut and cackle in the field that he has been working to improve for wildlife by adding clover, native grass and fruit trees.
When he’s not hunting, Hall works as a paramedic firefighter in Delta Township. He is drying the cape and wings from this year’s bird to go up on the wall next to a flying mount of his first turkey.