Similar to a whitetail, wild turkeys have different breeding phases or stages. Knowing which ‘stage’ the birds are in allows us to plan our setups, calling and decoy strategies.
Today we are going to focus on one of the first phases, which can be described as the late winter, early spring transition that finds our birds ‘henned up’
most of the day. The toms and hens are breaking into smaller social groups of 8 to 15, and the birds are actively breeding. The hens are not taking their midday break to lay eggs or build nests, so the entire group may stick together the entire day. Lets break down what those groups are thinking and how to adjust strategies to hunt them.
Your lead hen in the group is calling the shots right now. Wherever she goes the entire group is going to follow. Your job is to try and get her to your spread with the whole group in tow. It is often best to leave the hen turkey decoys in the truck right now and run a lone jake or tom decoy. The hens and toms have just completed the recruiting process for their new flock, and the girls are not interested in adding any new ladies to their group. The presence of a hen or 2 in your set is often enough to make them skirt your set, dragging the toms with her. An arrogant jake decoy is a favorite right now, because just like the hens, the 2 or 4 toms of the group don’t want any new men in the bunch. Bring that hen close enough and the toms will consistently close on a quality male fake almost every time.
Lets listen to carver Dave Constantine discuss some early season decoy tactics.
It’s important to note when we talk decoys in this blog the importance of running the highest quality turkey decoys you can get. Manufacturing processes have opened the door to a whole new world of realism from companies such as Dave Smith and our own jake at bestturkeydecoy.com. Quality fakes will hands down fool 10 times the birds. If it does not look like a real turkey to you, it is not going to fool near as many wild turkeys.
Check back for our next blog dealing with decoying turkeys as the season moves forward and the hens develop their individual agendas.