When early-season toms are still duking it out for breeding rights, staging a mock battle can bring one running to your setup, looking to kick some tail feathers. Here’s how to tag a brawler:
1. Choose the Spot
Opening-day gobblers are rarely far from large flocks of hens and young birds. Scout at dawn and dusk to learn where a big group roosts. Pay special attention to where those birds fly down in the morning, and position yourself nearby.
2. Stage the Brawl
Within easy gun range, place a pair of jake or gobbler decoys (see “Full Blast” on p. 81) about a foot apart, facing each other. Add some hen decoys, too, as these toms are used to seeing lots of company.
3. Use Fighting Words
Where it’s safe to do so, use a shaker-style call to make two or three gobbles every several minutes. If that doesn’t get a longbeard’s attention–or if you’re on public land–try repeated series of fighting purrs from a pot-and-peg call.
4. Make a Flap
Battling gobblers use their wings both to beat on their opponent and to keep their balance. To mimic this, slap a turkey wing on your thigh, the ground, and surrounding brush. A floppy hat can do in a pinch.
5. Forge Ahead
All this racket can seem like overkill at first. But staging a gobbler fight is like rattling for whitetails: You have to make lots of noise, be persistent, and have faith that it’ll work. Trust me, it will. Not every time, of course, but when it does, it’ll likely be one memorable hunt.