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  • Royce Carnley

No Way is the Wrong Way


One of the many great things about turkey hunting is there are so many ways to go after them. All the different calls, how to call to them, when to call to them, decoys or no decoys, popup blind or no blind, run n gun or sit and wait, what weapon to use, what shell, what broadhead, camo, etc...the list goes on. With technology and social media today, a new turkey hunter can gain a lot of knowledge and apply it out in the field rather quickly (still, nothing can replace experience in the field). With so many great turkey hunters filming their hunts now, hunters can gain invaluable information first hand from some of the best. New and experienced hunters alike can pick up tips or info from watching these videos. I know I have.

Just as there are pros to social media, there are definitely cons to it as well. Insert the "my way or the highway" mentalities. We've all seen it. "You're not a real hunter" if you do this or do that...again the list goes on. Some of which are all in good fun and some aren't. That's the nature of social media...Enter at your own risk type atmosphere. Some of the most discussed or argumentative topics are decoys vs no decoy, public land vs private land, and good calling vs woodsmanship. You'll hear all kinds of different experiences, opinions, and comments on all of these topics if you get on the internet, read magazines, or checkout blogs such as this one very much. That's because every bird is different, the phase the birds are in changes, terrain is different, some birds are pressured more than others, other variables that we can't control or don't even know about, and there are so many different ways to go after them. To ensure there is an ending to this particular blog, we'll just briefly go over 3 of the more talked about topics listed above.

Decoy vs no decoy-Some hunters love them and others absolutely despise them. Some have blamed decoys for birds turning around and walking away then some have wished they had a decoy for birds that didn't come within range. So what's the right answer? The right answer is however you want to do it! As I mentioned earlier, each bird is different. Some birds are wanting to fight off any other competitors in the area and will come in and smash a decoy. Other birds don't want a confrontation due to many things such as getting whooped up on or maybe approached a similar situation and his buddy got shot...who knows. In my own personal experience of 30 years of turkey hunting, decoys work way more than they hurt. I don't think a bird doesn't come into a decoy because the bird can tell it's a decoy, rather it is just a nonconfrontational bird or wants the bird he is seeing to come to him (which is the natural way). There will always be situations where no decoy is probably better such as highly pressured public ground or just highly pressured birds in general. Another situation would be if you are hunting property with a lot of jakes. The jakes will be all over a decoy and that will keep a tom from coming in. But in most situations a decoy will do it's job. For me, the conversation is my favorite part of the hunt but having a hot tom come in and do a flying head kick to the decoy completes the whole experience for me. I love watching that and it will never get old. Again, it goes back to what YOU like and what you want to experience in your hunts.

Public land vs private land-This topic should really be pressured birds vs un pressured birds. No matter if on private or public, a pressured bird will always be harder to hunt. This just typically happens more often on public for obvious reasons. On public ground, you not only have to worry about the turkey, you must take into account other hunters and a whole lot of different variables. Have a backup plan to a backup plan and then some more backup plans. In my experience on public, most birds aren't that much harder to kill once you get on one...it's everything else that comes along with public hunting. Given all these variables plus the actual birds, public ground is often viewed as producing the best turkey hunters. To that, I would have to agree. Private ground can be tough depending on the pressure but for the most part, private ground is much more manageable, often you are the only game in town, and you can navigate however you want to on a bird. For most, there is more of a sense of pride downing a bird on public which is reasonable due to all the variables. For me, it does not matter. While I enjoy every chance I get to hunt public, after I hear that first gobble, all I care about and live for is the chess match from there until he is in the back of the truck regardless if on private or public. In the end, all that matters, is what ground you like to hunt and have access to.

Calling vs woodsmanship-This topic I absolutely love and love the comparison of the two. It hits home with me because it basically describes how I grew up in turkey hunting I got to live out the difference between the two, appreciate both, and now use both. Nobody in my family really turkey hunted. We just shot turkey that walked by when we were deer hunting. When I was 16, I went spring turkey hunting for the first time and all I had was an old owl hooter. An old Hunter Specialties hooter if I remember right. Anyway, I ended up having a tom come in gobbling, spitting and drumming to that owl call if you can believe that (didn't have a clue what I was doing). That started the fascination with turkey hunting. From that point on, I hunted them the only way I knew how to hunt which was scout, look for tracks, use the terrain, and setup to ambush them. Calling was still non-existent for me as I didn't know anyone that turkey hunted and was oblivious to calling turkey. Fast forward to the age of social media and the internet. I was introduced to the world of turkey calling and purchased my first box call at 21 years old. Now at 42 years old, I enjoy the conversation with a tom just as much as anything. I enjoy practicing at calling as well. Sometimes I regret not discovering calling to turkey when I was younger but it taught me how to hunt them without calling (woodsmanship). Now, I enjoy calling them to me more than sneaking into that bubble or setting up to ambush them like I use to. For me, both skills alone have killed birds and while I enjoy calling in birds more, if you are just simply wanting to put birds in the truck, I'd say woodsmanship is slightly more important. And that is the great thing about turkey hunting. You can go after them how ever you want. No way is the wrong way! Happy Hunting!


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