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Turkey Decoys When and Why to Use Them

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David Hale on Whether or Not to Crawl on Turkeys

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Editor’s Note: David Hale of Cadiz, Kentucky, started his turkey-hunting career in 1966. He’s a co-founder of Knight & Hale Game Calls (http://www.knightandhale.com) and Commonwealth Productions and cohosts the “Ultimate Hunting” TV show   (http://outdoorchannel.com/ultimate-hunting) on the Outdoor Channel.

More call manufacturers are making devices for hunters who want to call to turkeys. If you’re hunting private land, and you know no other hunters are in the area, then crawling on turkeys may be okay. But I think you need to take a hard look at crawling on turkeys. I know that by putting a turkey fan on your barrel, you may successfully crawl up to a gobbler in the field and take him. Other hunters may put a hen decoy on a stick out in front of them and push that hen decoy close enough to a gobbler to take a shot. But crawling on a turkey is dangerous, because you’re giving the appearance of being a turkey. Hunters go into the woods in the springtime to shoot turkeys, so I definitely wouldn’t crawl on public lands. Too many people on public lands don’t know about turkey hunting with decoys, and they may make a mistake and shoot. The sole purpose of going into those woods is to shoot a turkey, and if you’re moving with that decoy, you’re putting yourself in harm’s way.

Very rarely will I crawl on a turkey, unless I’m moving from one spot to another. I sure won’t have a decoy in front of me. Now I have only one exception to this rule: if I’m hunting on private land, and a gobbler with a hen or a lone gobbler is out in the field. Then I may take my strutting gobbler decoy and put him out in front of me as I crawl to the edge of the field to set the decoy up. Once I’ve got the strutting gobbler decoy set-up, I’ll push a hen decoy that’s in a submissive position off to the side of my strutting gobbler decoy.  Then I can crawl backwards to reach my stand site. The turkeys in the field will be looking at the decoy and not at me. Oftentimes a strutting gobbler decoy with a submissive hen decoy will pull a longbeard out of the center of the field over to the edge of the field where I can take him, but if I’m hunting in the woods, I don’t use a decoy at all.

To learn more about hunting turkeys, check out John E. Phillips’ eBooks and print and Audible books at https://johninthewild.com/books. You also can download a free Kindle app that enables you to read the book on your iPad, computer or SmartPhone.

For a free copy of John E. Phillips’ “The Turkey Gobbler Getter Manual,” go to https://johninthewild.com/free-books/ to download.

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