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Turkey Decoys and blind set-up


TomBow

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Excuse me if I'm bringing up a subject that's done been beat ta death...but I'm a goin' to anywhe!

Got me one of them new fangled Double-Bull T2 blinds off of ebay last year and have been prodding my fellow turkey hunters for set-up and blinding. From what we experienced last fall, the turkeys would see the blind, then choose to ignore it. Anyone use the middle-of the field set-up with no other cover than the blind?

What's your decoy set-up? I usually hunt semi-pressured public land and put out a few hens. Seems like I end up having a bird see the deke(s) then not coming in, or they ignore the dekes all together. My plan right now is to try a single hen and jake and have them in near-breeding position and see what happens. That's day one.

What successful set-ups do you use or do you change up your deke selection often?

Best of luck!!

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I've hunted out of a DoubleBull for three years now and wouldn't hunt any other way. Most of the setups I've hunted in have been on a fenceline or field edge. Set the blind up, throw a few branches and maybe some grass on it to make it look a little more natural, and set the dekes out 10 - 15 yards in the field. This has produced very well.

Last year, I got into a sweet setup on a long finger of long grass covering a shallow waterway poking out into a corn stubble field. 100 yards or so across the corn stubble was a stand of trees where the birds roosted. We set the blind up in the tall grass and put the dekes behind us in the waterway, like they were eating bugs off the grass. We didn't put any additional cover on the blind at all and didn't need it. Our birds came right up to the blind, concentrating on the dekes 15 yards behind us. One hen even pecked at the zipper on the blind. Took our birds at about 5 yards. Perfect.

I've had toms get a little nervous around the blind, but usually they ignore it. They are definitely easier to hunt from it. Never tried setting up in the middle of a field, always tried to use a fenceline or such and let the terrain help out. Out in the middle of a field, you've got to make them come to you. Might be worth a try, though.

------------------
Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati (When all else fails, play dead)

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Creators

I have a freind in Iowa who bowhunts turkeys out of a blind. He has had very good luck with the middle fo the field setup taking birds at less than 15 yards.

I love the hen/jake set up with the jake set up facing the blind. Often the tom will come in and face off with the Jake while in strut. I'd think that this would be great for bowhunters to draw without getting picked off.

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Double-bull is the way to go. The material is tight against the blind, so the wind doesn't make it flutter or ripple......which freaks out turkeys and really freaks out deer. I don't own one, but a guy I hunt with has used them for a few years.

Last year in South Dakota, they had birds roosted on the outside edge of a big river bend, with the only trees being along the river. So the birds are on the bottom of this "U", able to see in all directions things coming across the open prairie. My buddy and his two friends started early, set up their blind a 1/4 mile away, put it over the top of them, and walked to within 200 yards of the roosted birds. They stayed low and snuck some dekes out, set up and started filming and hunting. The birds flew down, and they took 3 gobblers with a bow that morning! They kept coming back after the shot, so the guys kept shooting. Now these were prairie birds that winter near buildings, cattle, and humans.....but it's not like you could walk right up to them when hunting and shoot them. He uses the blind in MN in open field setups with equal success.

My decoy setup, bow or gun, typically includes two hens and a jake. I'll set one hen quartering towards or broadside (maximum visibility) where I think the gobblers will come.....call this the "attention getter." The other hen, I'll stake low to the ground in the breeding position, with her butt towards me. The jake, I'll face head-towards me, as Borch mentioned. If a bird comes in, he'll focus on the jake first and try to pop him.....offering you stick and string guys a shot. If he hits the jake from the side (and doesn't spook after kicking a fake turkey), he'll approach the hen from the rear to breed.....again offering the bow guys a shot.

With a gun, all that has to happen is for the gobbler to initially commit, and it's all over. I've let the toms come in when gun hunting and practicing though, and 75% of the ones I see follow that same pattern.

I've yet to get crazy enough to put a jake on top of a metal spring, on top of a hen, attached to fishing line. I've seen that on some shows for bow-turkeys. Maybe I should, but I'd like to maintain whatever mobility I have left. After I pack my turkey vest so full of crap, I can't sit against a tree without getting poked in the rear with a striker!

Joel

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Tombow:

If day one doesn't turn out as planned, or you can see them spook or ignore dekes.....lose the dekes. I've done that a few times to provide for greater mobility and easier end-arounds on moving birds. Sometimes field birds just ignore the dekes, and strut just out of range. That's the most frustrating, but they see the hen most times, and just expect her to come their way.

For really tough birds on public land, I've tried to just ambush them. Hunt them like deer and set up on known routes/funnels. While not as fun without the calling interaction, it'll bag you a difficult bird. Typically, I spot them and end-around to where they're feeding towards....using calls sparingly at most to gently steer them my way.

Joel

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If you hunt pressured birds or the late seasons I'm a frim believer in hunting without decoys.I can usually get jakes and hens to come into the dekes,but the big boys seem to hang up on me.I don't even bother bringing them along anymore.

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Thanks there-guys!

This will be the 4th year in a row hunting the G season, which this year runs May 14-20 (yahoo, an extra two days!! not that I'll need them, nyuk, nyuk!!) and the birds have been decoy shy. I do like the idea of a hen in near-breeding position with a Jake set so it appears to be making a move on her. My first bird, taken two years ago was out late morning looking for a hen. Either he liked my pretty calling or he was just a horn-dog looking for somebody...forgot to ask him before the 6's dropped him clean. That was with a shotgun and a quick set-up, no dekes, he came in lookin'!
I scouted yesterday and saw 3 longbeards hanging with 6 very talky hens. Heard my first several gobblers out of those boys and got that fantabulous rush of adrenalin!

Thanks again for the tips and Best of Luck, there-guys!!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've been up on the Metro ice Fishing Forum so long I didn't even notice a Hunting Forum! Now that the lower MN ice is about to leave and having a late season turkey tag I'll be living "down here" on this forum.
I got a late season tag and will take any advice on these Eastern birds. I've hunted Merriams in AZ for about 5 years but have never hunted Easterns. Been in MN for almost a year and would like any advice you have to offer. Specifically if you've hunted other turkeys or know of any differences.
My plan was to use the blind and 1 jake faced toward the blind and the breeding hen positioned away from the blind but it sounds like the birds may be quite shy at that time of the season. I've heard Easterns gobble more often and longer into the day vs. other birds.
One thing that works real well for me is to work two different calls at the same time; try to sound like two hens w/one repeating the other. I've gotten late season and/or call shy gobblers to come to that to get the "ladies back in line" quite often.
Again, anyone that has advice, please post up and pass it along. Much appreciated.

[This message has been edited by Ben1022 (edited 03-22-2004).]

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Ben-
Welcome to the show!
Ok, I've heard that Merriams are the most vocal! Anyway, late season, mid May, has been all my 3 yrs. (this is #4) of turkey experience. I am hunting public land. The birds have tended to be quiet shortly after fly down. Where you hunt and the hunting pressure will probably effect how vocal the birds are.

Two calls is definitely a good tactic IMHO especially if you are using two hen decoys. A jake deke may either spook the birds or bring 'em running with their can o' whoop in tow. Depends on the bird. That's the challenge of turkey hunting, picking the right tactic to get the bird in. I have killed only 1 bird, a "solo" that was apparently seeking some company, just wandering through the woods gobbling, I heard him, threw some light yelping at him to get him coming my way, then shut up completely, no deke out, and let him come looking. AT 20 yards, he stopped looking. Permanently. I have run into a few birds this way, it was a couple hours after sunrise. Another seeking bird, I called in from an open field, I was carrying my bow and didn't pick the right time to draw and the bird spotted me and spooked.
Called in several gobblers last spring when a hen started calling and we copied everything she said, cadence and all, and called her in. She practically never stopped calling and this brought in several gobblers. I always put some leaf scratching into my calling to add more realism.

Best I can say is get out and find the birds now, don't call, just figure out where they roost and where they "hang". Like they say, it's easier to get a bird to come where he was already planning on going.

I have learned through experience and have been successful calling birds in, just haven't totally gotten down when to take the shot. Best of Luck to all!!

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TomBow,

I've had the very same situation w/drawing the bow. My last turkey hunt in AZ was, literally, as I was relocating to MN and I stopped off to hunt for two days on my way to MN. Fortunately, a friend of mine that was, later, going to be in MN let me use his blind. What a difference it made on drawing back! Probably one of my most memorable turkey hunts. There was one tough gobbler to get in and he got me twice on the first day...once in the am AND in the 2pm time frame. In the am he came in silent at about 35yds behind, he was spittin' and buzzin'. He heard me turn around in the blind but kept struttin'. Got drawn back and he was behind a deadfall w/just the top of the head showing. He eventually folded up and moved off. Same thing in the pm...came in silent and wouldn't approach the decoys. Still got drawn back but not a good enough shot. Next day I did the copycat cadence w/two box calls and he rolled right in. He was about 12 yds from the blind and I was at full draw. At that point a two crows sounded off in the tree above and scared the daylights out of him and he folded up and left. I got a moving shot on him at 38yds and have about 40 breast feathers to show for my last turkey hunt in AZ. Point being, the blind let me draw on the same bird, three diff't times. I've got a blind now and may just use one decoy and still hunt at that time of the season. Scouting will tell but hopefully some variation will work. Hopefully that late will bring chances to get the gobbler right to you off the roost if I can roost one.
Thanks for the advice and everyone else feel free to chime in...I'll take all I can get!

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It's a great help to keep in touch with hunters that are hitting the birds in earlier seasons, just to give a bit of a clue on what the birds are doing when. I am in e-mail contact with a few different people so I will pass on info when I get some.

I haven't had much luck getting birds to shock gobble but I ARE AN AMATEUR at this whole turkey business! I do have a crow call and a new owl call but haven't had a response that I would say was definitely due to either one of these yet.

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Creators

Maybe it's a regional thing. The Merriams I've hunted are primary in SD and some in WY. I've had more birds gobble there in the late morning and early afternoon than during early morning. Much more responsive during this time as well.

Easterns on the other hand will gobble all day as well. But it seems that I get one or two gobbles verses the answer to every call later in the day like I get from the Merriams.

Borch

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Creators

From my experience the Merriams are more vocal than the easterns and tend to cover more territory. The easterns have been easier to pattern with more predicatable travel patterns.

Late season scouting becomes even more important. Depending on the spring the Toms can be very tough to call(Unless it's a late spring). I would suggest getting out often with a good set of binoculars and look for travel routes the toms are using frequently. Stick to more passive calling and get ready. They'll likely come in silent.

Good Luck!

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It surprises me to hear that people's experiences with Merriams is that they are more vocal. Not that I know what Eastern birds are like at all, but my experiences w/Merriam's is that they're done gobbling by 8am and seldom can shock gobble them during the late morning. Also, only on a couple occasions have I heard birds gobbling when roosting them. I guess I'm in for even less vocalization!! My expectation was to hear them gobble more in the later morning after the hens loose the gobbler.
Probably not going to be the case w/the later season.
I am glad to hear that patterning them may be "easier". I'm hoping the scouting helps out and hope any birds located don't get knocked out of the area due to earlier hunts.
Hopefully as the hunts take place, people will post up what they're experiencing and how they fare.

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That's an excellent observation and quite possibly correct on each account. I had made an assumption that Eastern's gobbled more after talking to quite a few friends that turkey hunt in GA, MS and MO. Their experiences seemed to involve more gobbling at nearly any point in the season. Additionally, I talked to the CO that manages the area I'm hunting and he had mentioned that he believed Easterns Gobble more.
In any case, hopefully scouting will give me some answers and an "n of 1" after this year. I don't know if I'll be able to gleen any useful info from this year and compare to hunts of past years but I sure hope to.
If nothing else, the thought of the hunt has my tail fanned out!

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The gobbling activity issue is a tricky subject. There's been some good research, and there continues to be more, on gobbling activity throughout the spring. Some good stuff I've seen is from a local guy (really local) by the name of T.R. Michels. However, I haven't seen much research on gobbling activity among the different sub-species. I've only heard general rules of thumb.

My personal opinion is that gobbling activity is based on a few main factors:

1) Season/Time of Spring - I think there are spikes in gobbling activity throughout the season based on breeding. Extreme early and late seasons seem to have less gobbling activity.

2) Weather - Wet cold days have severely reduced gobbling activity in my neck of the woods.....or has it just reduced my ability to hear the gobbles?!?!?!

3) Terrain/Regional Differences - Sound travels through different terrain in a dissimilar manner. There's also the effect that food/water source and availability has on breeding turkeys. Ag/open areas force birds to act differently than birds in big-timber.

4) Pressure - This one is the wild card that seems to trump all others. Pressured birds in my experience will, shock gobble reluctantly, gobble less aggressively (one response vs. double/triple gobbles), gobble on the limb before flydown and maybe not again for the rest of the day.

As of right now I think that these factors may have more to do with gobbling than sub-species type. I say this after only hunting Rios and Easterns though, so who knows? I'd like to see someone examine this more closely.

Joel

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