Turkey Hunting; Become a Master of Deception

Turkey hunting can be a humbling experience for the novice and the most experienced hunter/huntress. Just when you think you have them figured out, they do something to surprise you. This change in events and behavior from the turkeys are what make them such a sought-after game animal and is what drives the passion of the hunter/huntress.

I have turkey hunted for the past 15 years, and I consider myself adequate at having success in the turkey woods. I was grateful enough to have the experience of my grandfather and father passed on to me at an early age. They taught me many lessons that would take a man, 2 lifetimes to learn, before my first day in the woods. This accelerated learning process has given me the opportunity to minimize mistakes and have above average success in the woods.

However, with that being said, I have my fair share of mess ups in the woods. And the 2018 Spring season kicked my father and my ass almost every day.

Bird 1

The season started out rather slow, as it always does in the Northwest region of Pennsylvania. The birds just weren’t responding like they should, and it took us a few days to finally find a bird that we could pursue. We found that mature gobbler by accident while driving to locate birds in a nearby ravine. He was standing on the road in full strut and allowed us to drive within 40 yards of him without a care in the world. He would walk back and forth on the road displaying his beautiful plumage for the hen beside him. She would cluck, and he would gobble, right in the road in front of us. We knew this was going to be the bird we would pursue for the next day’s hunt. We slowly backed up, turned around the truck and got out of dodge. We returned back to that general area that night to roost him, and he gobbled his head off that night in the tree.

That morning we got into the woods before light and slowly sneaked into position. We knew what tree he was in, and we got super close to his roost. We set up a decoy and were ready for first light. He began gobbling at 5:20 am, which is rather early for the first week of the season, but none the less we were in position, and he was in the tree.

He gobbled 200 times that morning. Double and triple gobbling, and it was all at our decoy. All he needed to do was fly out of the roost and land at our decoy, and he was toast. My finger was waiting on the safety, and itching to pull the trigger.

He began to flap his wings and reposition on the tree for his fly down. It was game time.  All of a sudden, my decoy fell over and he spun on the tree branch and flew down in the opposite direction. He never made a sound again that morning.

Lesson # 1: Make sure your Damn Decoy is secure in the ground

Bird 2

As the season progressed, my father and I began to target different birds. I was working a bird who I had seen in archery season the prior year. He was heavy gobbling S.O.B. He would gobble every single breath in the morning, it was almost a steady stream on gobbling coming from this bird. He had burned me a few times that season already. Walking away from the calling, getting henned up, popping up at the wrong location just to catch a glimpse of him, and then returning to his hens. Needless to say, I had a vendetta against this bird.

So, one morning, after a few days break on this bird, he was over the hill and down into the valley of a spring. He would gobble to my calling and was cutting the distance to my call but every time he would get hung up on the spring. I made the decision to leave, get around to the other side of the valley and be on the uphill side of the stream. I hoped into my truck and made the 30-min ride to get into position.

I marked on my GPS his last known location and got within 300 yards. I got out of the truck, yelped to him on my Deception Chamber, and he responded in the same spot I had left him 30 mins prior. Great I thought, I will get within 100 yards and call this guy up the hill. I grabbed my vest, put it on, reached for my shotgun and rounded the back of the truck.

Son of a Bitch, that gobbler was standing in the road 40 yards from the truck. He cut 300 yards in a matter of seconds. His eyes met mine, and he ran down the road as fast as he could. I lowered my head and put my stuff back in the truck, and drove to work a beaten man.

Lesson #2: Don’t call to a bird, when you aren’t ready and in position

Bird 3

My father had roosted a bird the night before in a spot that we called old faithful. I have killed numerous birds out of this spot over the years and it has never steered me wrong. This bird was in a weird bowl that would echo his gobble around the valley, so my father and I split up to get a better pin point on where he was at. He gobbled that morning and he was 400 yards away on a bench. I called my father and he met me where I was parked, and we made our move to the spot.

This gobbler wasn’t very responsive, but he did show interest when we called. We sat 15 yards apart and began to call. My father was using his Old Boss hen mouth call, and this bird gobbled every time he clucked, but was not coming in. So, I brought out my Deception Chamber with the glass insert option and began to call with him to simulate multiple birds. To my surprise, he began to cover some distance. He cut 100 yards in 2 mins, and was roughly 50 yards from me down over the bank. I dropped my friction call, and positioned my shotgun. My father continued to persuade the bird, but he stopped gobbling. I thought to myself, did he see me? But he let out another gobble moments later in his old position 150 yards away.

I looked at my father and he motioned for me to call again. I reached down and started calling on my call and BAM he was again 50 yards away. This posed an issue because this bird clearly wanted the Deception Chamber. But he was on my side, so to make the shot I would have to drop the call when he went behind a tree and make the move with my gun, without him seeing.

I took the gamble and kept the call in my hand. I could hear him drumming, and there he was 30 yards to my 9 o’clock position. I dropped the call slowly and he heard the striker clang against the glass insert. He had me beat, so I swung my gun and shot. He took off at a dead sprint and flew off into the distance. I ran after him hoping to get a second shot, but he was gone. I went over to where he was standing, and it was a clear miss. I peppered the tree next to him. He lived, and we heard him a few more times that season but he was too leery to come to our calls.

Lesson # 3 Make sure everyone with you has a Cro-Mag Outdoors’ The Deception Chamber

Bird 4

After kicking myself in the ass for missing the day before, I made the decision that my father was going to shoot before me no matter what.

We headed back to a spot that we have given some time to settle down from all our pursuits. And a bird began to gobbler 3 ridges over. This was a new bird, and he sounded like a good one. So, we headed off in search of a road that would position us above the bird. We parked the truck on a well location and got out of the truck. We put on all of our gear and loaded our guns, because I wasn’t getting burned again but being caught with my pants down. He got into the woods 60 yards from the truck and I made the first call. He responded right on top of us, and we sat down where we were. You could see my white truck 60 yards behind us in plain view. I looked at my dad and said, were screwed. He said don’t worry we will be fine.

My dad began to call, and he responded. But it was the same story as Bird 3. He wouldn’t come to my dads slate call, just the Deception Chamber. I rested the gun on my legs and made the decision that this was Dad’s bird and I wouldn’t shoot. I called 3 times and he was in front of me wide open at 30 yards. He began to walk in the direction of my dad and I see him bear down on the shotgun.  He shot, and the turkey flew off the hill. My dad stood there in awe. It was 15 yards with a 3.5 inch. That turkey should be dead. We examined his shot and he had determined that he had missed. 50 years of turkey hunting experience and we both miss on back to back days. What can you do, other than laugh? Shit happens especially when turkey hunting.

Lesson # 4 Shit Happens, just laugh and move on

We eventually ended up doubling the last day of the season with a picture-perfect hunt. 3 birds came in without a fight and we successfully harvested 2 beautiful gobblers. Their story isn’t as important as the lesson we learned during the 2018 season. These were lessons we learned a long time ago, but got rather lackadaisical with our strategies. Everyone needs seasons like the one we had, to keep them grounded. Humans may be the apex predators, but a small brained turkey with the will to survive can really challenge the most experienced turkey hunters. And in essence teach an old dog new tricks. Which leads us to our last lesson.

Lesson #5 Stay humble

Cro-Mag Outdoors' Jake and Art Spring Gobbler Double 2018

Author’s Note:

The Deception Chamber wasn’t preached in this article to push the call down your throat. This call was actually our savior this season. The call has a certain tone and lifelike rasp to it, that I truly believe mimics an actual turkey in the woods, better than any call on the market.  The interchangeable inserts naturally have more rasp in them due to the way they are secured to the pot and this is the driving force behind them. Give the call a try and I promise you won’t leave the house without it. My dad never leaves the house without his D.D Adams pot call. And this year the Deception Chamber made a believer out of him. But whatever you choose to hunt with, make memories, enjoy your hunt and take a kid out and teach them your ways!

Remember our mission is to redefine tradition. Challenge traditional thinking and push others to do the same. We must dedicate ourselves to hone in on our primal instincts and combine them with new methodologies and technologies to truly master evolution.

Cro-Mag Outdoors

Tradition, Re-engineered

1 comment

  • Well written. It was definitely a strange season by all accounts in the 7 states I hunted. My lesson: Sometimes you have to leave the decoys in the truck!

    Greg Medlin

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