Decoying a Henned-Up Tom Into Bow Range

When hunters opt for archery tackle over a shotgun, the challenge is raised. It’s hard enough to get a tom within bow range in optimal conditions. Add a hen distracting him from your decoys and calls, and the game seems futile. However, smart decoy tactics can pull that tom away from his girl and into your sights.

Work with a Wingman

Some wise toms will wait for the hens to fly down first, then join them on the ground where he will go quiet.

Content with the hens in his presence, a hen decoy is not likely to get a gobbler to change his course. A tom decoy has a much better chance. One tactic I have found successful is hunting henned-up toms with a decoy, like elk hunters do. It’s a two-man job, but often pays off in plenty of grilled turkey poppers to share with your wingman.

The plot entails setting up on the edge of a field. Find some cover to hide in, nock an arrow tipped with your Wasp broadhead and direct your buddy to sit 10 yards to the left or right of you. He will be working the fan decoy.

As daylight comes and the field hopefully draws birds, get their attention with some hen calls. As you do that, have your friend flash the tom decoy and slowly rotate it to mimic a strutting gobbler. You’ll know he sees it when he throws his head up for a better look. This is the moment of truth. The tom will either commit to chasing off the intruder or will ignore it. Most times he comes in fast, so be ready to draw. If he ignores it, wait until the hens leave him. He just might be curious enough to come back to get a closer look at your decoy.

Most of all though, only use this tactic on private land where, if there happens to be multiple hunters, everyone is aware of each other’s location at all times.