Turkey Hunting Gear photo
Dan Saelinger

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Chris Philpot

Strutting gobbler decoys are hot items now, and for good reason: They work. But they’re also pricey and a pain to carry. A real gobbler fan costs nothing and packs easily—and can be as effective as the full-blown fake. Here’s how to put a bird’s tail feathers to work for you.

[1] Remove the entire fan by cutting around the fleshy base of the tail. Trim the flesh and fat, being sure to remove the milky-white oil glands. Using three long heavy T-pins, tack the fan onto a large cardboard box, and push the pins all the way through for a secure hold. Place one pin through the base of the tail and one each through the middle of the quills of the left- and rightmost feathers. Pour salt or borax onto the butt end to preserve the fan. It should be dry and ready for Steps 2 and 3 in two weeks.

Chris Philpot

[2] Drill four 1/8-inch holes in the butt end. For the stake, use an 18-inch length of 3/4-inch PVC pipe. Cut one end at a 45-degree angle so you can easily drive it into the ground. Scuff the PVC with sandpaper and spray-paint it a dull color, like matte black.

Chris Philpot

[3] Flip the fan over and secure it to the stake with two 8-inch cable ties threaded through the holes drilled in Step 2. Cinch another tie at the top of the stake as a collar to keep the fan from sliding off the top. To take it hunting, fold the fan in half or thirds lengthwise and stuff it in your vest.

Chris Philpot