Argument for a Tom Decoy
By no means am I a preeminent turkey killer, serial killer yes, but far from the prevailing gobbler killers in the country. I am however a type of philosopher and I like to think about turkeys and turkey hunting. And during these contemplations I have formed a few theories on decoys, calling, and the “wisdom” of a bird.
My educational background is in behavioral science and when I work, I work in the behavioral health field (perhaps the softest of sciences). Thus, when forming a thesis, I tend to base such on behavioral theories; as opposed to solely antidotal evidence. The aforementioned is provided to let the reader know that I possess the skill to “bull shit” with the best of them; the way only an educated man can.
Considering it all however, I would still like to share my thoughts on why the Jake or Gobbler decoy is the preferred tool when chasing a Tom.
First, size matters.
A Tom decoy with a fan can be seen farther away than a hen silhouette. To be clear, when turkey hunting I consider the call the ‘most’ important tool. The call will more likely than not is the instrument that initially connects you to your target. But if the call by its self isn’t going to convince your bearded friend to approach, then seeing something of interest may help. That is where the decoy starts to become important.
Second, it’s nature.
The call is imitating a hen. The one you seek is expecting a hen. His gobbles back are to a hen. He is trying to communicate “come to me”. In real life situations, the hen goes to the Tom. In hunting we are trying to go against nature and have the Tom come to the hen. Admittedly this works a lot of the time. Hormone driven Gobblers will get anxious and come running especially if they are all alone. If you are hunting this kind of Tom, a decoy may not be necessary to get the bird in range. A hen decoy in this scenario may be of most use not in getting the bird to come; but in getting him directly in front of you. Not an insignificant accomplishment.
If you have hunted turkeys a bit, you have almost assuredly had the experience of having a Tom come into an open field until he can clearly see your hen decoy and then ‘Hang up” or refuse to come the last 80 or so yards. Why? Maybe he thinks if I can see you then you can see me. And the Hen is suppose to come to the Gobbler!
A Tom decoy has some serious advantages that surpass the hen decoy in specific ways. Beyond the ability to be visually detected from farther away, it directly communicates to the target of your desires why he must come to you. When the male turkey hears your yelps he is thinking hen. He may gobble back in part to get the hen to move toward him. When he sees the male decoy he understands the hen he hears is not coming to him and this ‘may’ get him more motivated to move to you. If he is a truly dominate gobbler he may get pissed off about this male in his territory. More likely he is just genetically engineered to come to see if he has a chance to breed; after all, a lot of time in nature where there is one hen there is another.
When calling with a hen decoy my experience is that the approaching Tom knows the sounds he hears are not coming from the hen he sees. As he gets close he is still looking for the hen he hears but doesn’t see. When coming to a Tom or Jake decoy the approaching gobbler knows he first must deal with this guy before he gets to the hen. Thus, his attention is glued to the decoy and not to the sounds of the yelps.
My experience is that an approaching Gobbler will almost always walk in front of the face of the gobbler decoy. This allows me to very specifically entice the Gobbler to stand right where I want him for the shot.
I realize there are a lot people who have an interest in selling turkey decoys. Some suggest you need a flock of decoys and different decoys for every possible circumstance. I am not that guy. I use a gobbler decoy, (or no decoy) almost exclusively. I believe that a killable turkey will be most interested in a Tom decoy. I also keep in mind that not every turkey is killable and that if I can’t get him in it probably has more to do with my calling or his hormones then my decoy selection.
Now as an educated guy let me also state an alternative possible explanation…. I could be wrong.
Until I see you in the field, be SAFE, be good and BE LUCKY!