Love Connection: The Turkey and the Decoy

Turkey Loves Decoy
Deep in the Bridger Mountains of Montana, photographer Bill Buckley found a lonely, love-struck wild Merriam's turkey. And for what did this bird pine? A beautiful Dave Smith hen decoy. What follows is a chronicle of romance, captured through the camera lens and told by the match-maker. One thing is for sure: if you're a turkey hunter and this tale doesn't make you think twice about your decoys of choice, perhaps nothing will.Bill Buckley
Turkey Loves Decoy
"There were turkeys that moved into the neighborhood above my house last year and they all left the area" said Buckley. "But this guy must have been booted because he came back to the winter range. So I got this hen deke from Dave Smith Decoys and decided to set it up. I had taken the decoy to the Northeast and had a hen peck it for 45 minutes...even hens obsess over it."Bill Buckley
Turkey Loves Decoy
Buckley said the lonely gobbler would have hung around there all day. "I played around with him for about four hours" Buckley said. "I moved the decoy five or six times and he always followed."Bill Buckley
Turkey Loves Decoy
Buckley dressed in full cammo to take these shots, but it didn't make much difference. "It got to the point where I didn't even have to hide," he said. "And this was a wild bird, but he got used to me. As long as I stayed 20-yards or more away he couldn't have cared less when that decoy was in sight."Bill Buckley
Turkey Loves Decoy
Buckley would slowly approach the bird and grab the decoy, then set it up again close by. It only took a few hen yelps from a slate call for the bird to come right back to the decoy.Bill Buckley
Turkey Loves Decoy
"He mounted the decoy, too," Buckley noted. "He couldn't keep away from it. It was love at first sight. It was pretty cool. Once locked into that decoy he'd follow it anywhere."Bill Buckley
Turkey Loves Decoy
"If you get the right bird at the right moment and it's lonely, it's a beautiful thing," said Buckley.Bill Buckley
Turkey Loves Decoy
Bill Buckley
Turkey Loves Decoy
Bill Buckley
Bill Buckley
Turkey Loves Decoy
Bill Buckley
Turkey Loves Decoy
Bill Buckley
Turkey Loves Decoy
Bill Buckley
Turkey Loves Decoy
Bill Buckley

You know you've got a good decoy when gobblers get lovestruck, obsessive, and downright dirty with the plastic hen. Bill Buckley captured these close-range shots of a tom strutting his stuff in the heat of the moment.