If you follow me on Facebook, you already know I’m at the Vermejo Park Ranch in New Mexico, hunting turkeys with Cally and Annetta Morris, owners of Hazel Creek Taxidermy and Decoys. Of course, we’re hunting over their lifelike creations, hoping to draw a gobbler or two into gun range.
Cally and Annetta have been in the business of preserving hunting memories for more than 20 years. Cally started mounting birds in high school to make extra money, and Annetta jumped into the biz as soon as they said I do in 1989.
Decoys are a more recent offshoot of the Hazel Creek brand, having been around for a decade or so. For Cally, decoys add to the fun of hunting.
“There’s nothing like the challenge of bringing in a gobbler to within 10 steps and shooting him with a bow,” he said. But to be successful when hunting with decoys you have to know how to use them the right way.
Here are five rules from Cally on proper decoy set up whether you tote a bow or a gun:
- Toms most always approach a gobbler or jake decoy from behind, sizing him up to see if he can take him. When shotgun hunting, I set them up facing me for that reason, or broadside, but never facing away. If I’m an archery hunting, I set them up quartering away from me, which presents a good quarter shot.
- Don’t place decoys straight out in front of you. Place them at 10 o’clock or 2 o’clock from your setup, especially when hunting the edge of a field or food plot. The goal is for him to reach the decoy setup first, within gun range. He’ll be more preoccupied with the decoys, which will allow you to move on him without getting spooked.
- If you only take one decoy out, make it a hen. But be prepared to romance her. You’re in for a slow show. Add a jake to the setup for more of a high-action hunt. It’s like a high school dance. The gobbler is a jock and sees a pretty girl standing alone across the room. He’s wondering if he should go talk to her. Then you put a dweeb (jake) into the mix. It’s going to challenge that jock to swoop in and take her.
- Turkeys are claustrophobic. You can’t get a turkey to walk between two turkeys. Instead, it will circumnavigate a setup. Don’t place decoys too close together. Put the gobbler in your kill zone, but keep the hen in your sights.
- Shooting sticks are essential when bringing in turkeys close with decoys. They keep your gun steady, at the ready and you from spooking the game. They’re critical for new hunters but still a good idea for experienced hunters who like to bring ‘em in close.
So the next time you carry decoys to your setup, try these tips from Cally. And Cally hopes you give his Hazel Creeks a try. Click here to learn more.