Using Montana Decoy Turkey Decoys to Find Success During Turkey Season
Wisconsin in early April is not known for its pleasant weather. Usually, that’s the dead half of the season that Midwesterners coined “Second Winter.” Instead of budding daffodils and the first of many tank-top days, there are ice storms, sub-zero forecasts and gloomy skies. I nervously clutched my hot coffee between my gloves; I was on my first turkey hunt and the Second Winter was unforgiving.
I was participating in an educational turkey hunting weekend organized by my college hunting club. Before being paired with a hunting mentor, we spent an afternoon in a barn learning turkey hunting strategies. Several other classmates and I listened to lectures on the natural history of turkeys, shotgun chokes, and how a combination of calls and strategically placed lures can be a lethal setup. I was putting all that new knowledge to good use as I huddled in the tall grass, hiding at the edge of a private cornfield with my mentor, Lucas.
Lucas did most of the work that Sunday morning. Beforehand, he asked permission to hunt on the spot, explored the property and modeled the birds. On the morning of, he brought the shotgun, camouflage, turkey decoys, shotgun shells and calls. He even walked back to the truck in the dark to retrieve those same shotgun shells after I forgot to put them in my pocket. Once he returned, we settled into the tall grass. He walked out to the cornfield about 30 yards in front of us and placed three decoys on him: two jakes and a chicken. Before long, we heard the turkeys gobbling as they flew from their coop. Game on.
Sunlight slipped along the edges of the horizon. I could see the tips of tree branches sharp against the dawn sky. Red-winged blackbirds sang nearby as the songs of cardinals whistled through the forest. Lucas started yelling at the slate calling him. Several turkeys gobbled up. He waited a while before yelling again. This time, the turkeys gobbled up even faster. He told me to get ready.
“Practice lining up the shotgun sights with the decoys,” Lucas said. I picked up the 12 gauge and rested it on my knee, shivering slightly from both cold and nerves. However, I felt that I could keep the account steady. Lucas yelled again.
This time, the gobbles were closer. The turkeys were actually moving towards us. My breathing quickened and my heart sped up. My tremor got worse. Gobble gobble gobble! Three toms were now in sight at the other end of the field, closing rapidly.
“Get ready, Gaby. Make sure you take a photo only when you feel comfortable and when one of them gets out a little by himself,” Lucas whispered. I readied the shotgun and tried to control my tremors. The toms were closing in on the decoys, throwing their big bodies across the field. I sat motionless on the grass, watching the cats attack one lure and peck at another. They circled around them several times, puffing and gobbling, probably wondering: How is it possible that these Jakes have this chicken with them? After a minute, a tom stepped aside.
“Shoot! Shoot! No, don’t shoot now! Wait! Okay, shoot!” my mentor whispered-shouted he. I waited for the tom to walk a few more steps away from the group, trembling terribly, my heart in my throat, and lined up my sights. I took a deep breath, stopped, and pulled the trigger.
wow! There were feathers everywhere. The other two Toms wandered nearby, confused. My Tom dropped to the ground as his nerves reacted to the fatal shot. Lucas ran to the turkey as fast as he could and put his foot on the bird’s head.
“In my experience, this has prevented them from destroying their tail feathers or being attacked by other birds,” Lucas said. After the bird stopped trembling, his wings touched the ground in one last buzzAnd we started to celebrate.
I cautiously examined my first turkey. I’ve never seen one up close before. The hairnet was cool and leathery in my hand, its neck and head spiky with tiny feathers. I picked up some feathers from the body, their iridescence shimmering in the morning light. I spread his tail for a photo, spreading his wings in front of me to show every detail. He was beautiful.
Before that hunt, I didn’t understand how essential decoys are to hunting turkeys. After moving west, I also learned to use decoys to hunt bow elk and pronghorn. I’ve never been on a waterfowl hunt, but I’ve seen photos of those brown Canadian cornfields adorned with hundreds of white bags with black beaks, superbly mimicking a flock of feeding snow geese. For some types of hunting, lures make or break the experience.
In my opinion, the more realistic a lure, the better. From my background in wildlife biology, I know that different types of animals have different levels of vision. Birds have four cone eyes, which allow them to see ultraviolet light. Basically, they see and understand color in more ways than we can imagine. This is not limited to turkeys; ducks, quail, grouse and many other types of game birds see this way. Birds also have fantastic depth perception, especially predatory ones. This is why hunters don’t wear bright orange to hunt turkeys and use blinds to hunt. However, deer are completely different. Deer only have two cones, so they see fewer colors than we do, mostly blue and green. However, they have better night vision and can probably see ultraviolet light as well. Pro Tip: Don’t hunt deer in blue jeans.
I take these types of factors into account when buying lures. I want the lure to look realistic: show fine details, have the correct colors, be the correct size. On the other hand, I understand that no lure is perfect and that wildlife consider many other factors when deciding whether or not a lure is “real” enough to fool them. Fortunately, I found what I was looking for when I discovered Montana Decoys.
His turkey decoys are extremely realistic. They have amazing detail and the Wiley Tom he lure even has slots to insert a real tail fan and wing feathers. For me, this is ideal. Using real feathers makes your lure better because birds can see the ultraviolet details reflected off them in sunlight. The sizing is accurate so a big tom won’t be thrown off by a big or small lure. They are lightweight and collapsible, allowing hunters to pack them up and walk to a location and for easy storage at home (I know someone who has shelves in their garage solely for storing non-collapsible turkey decoys). As for turkey decoys, this is exactly what I want.
Montana Decoy offers several types of turkey decoys. They offer individual chicken lures as well as small jakes or toms. You can get a hen and jake combo, and even a small flock consisting of a hen, jake, and tom, for great deals on effective builds as well. And turkey decoys aren’t the only items available. Elk, whitetail, waterfowl, pronghorn, elk and predator hunters can also find lures for their hunts at montanadecoy.com.
The lures are what sealed the deal on my first hunt. Seeing three mature toms run at full speed against fake birds will be a memory I will always cherish. And now, as I learn to hunt Merriams in the mountains of Colorado, I can apply the decoy deployment skills I learned in Wisconsin to try to have a successful turkey season out west as well. Fortunately, I already know what lures I’m going to use.