Spring Thunder Crew Finds Turkey Hunting Gold in Montana

Amazing Turkey Hunting Luck in One Evening

There’s a lot that can and should be considered for a hunting trip across the country to chase wild turkeys. From hunting licenses, turkey hunting gear, and lodging choices, there’s a lot going on. That being said, have you ever gone on a turkey hunting trip before? How did it go for you? Well, we can pretty much guarantee it wasn’t as productive as the first evening of the Spring Thunder crew in eastern Montana. In the video below, you’ll see some amazing turkey hunting luck (and some not so good luck) as Michael Waddell, David Blanton, and Phillip Culpepper all have an incredible experience with Merriam’s turkeys.

Turkey Hunting Tactics Used

Pretty incredible video, isn’t it? Is that how your turkey hunts have gone before? If not, let’s look at some of the turkey hunting setups and techniques the guys used to be so successful on this hunt. First, it definitely helps to use a guide on reputable hunting property. The crew put their trust in the outfitting expertise of Rich Schneider from J&J Guide Service in eastern Montana – and it clearly worked very well. If you’re hunting solo on public land, it can be a very different story, but it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes being in the right place and using the right turkey hunting setups is all it takes to be successful. Let’s break this down.

Traditional Decoy Setup

As the guys were driving along they spotted a group of turkeys and decided to sneak up on them. To get them to seal the deal, they put out a traditional decoy setup that most turkey hunters have used in the past: a simple jake and/or hen decoy. After some enticing yelps, the beautiful Merriam’s gobbler comes running in on the hillside above them. As it comes over the top of the hill, it sees the decoy and immediately starts strutting and gobbling. The gobbler works his way down the hill until David Blanton puts a precise shot right where it counts.

What can you learn from this? After locating a group of turkeys, position yourself behind some cover or topography to approach them within 75-100 yards if possible. Quietly set out a simple decoy or two, and start calling to gauge the turkey’s reactions. If they respond eagerly, keep calling and get ready!

Calling Turkeys Through a Fence

If you’ve ever had to call gobblers that are located on the other side of a fence of some sort, you’ve probably had more bad luck than good. Gobblers – especially highly pressured turkeys – seem to be pretty reluctant to hop a fence, cross a ditch, or navigate any other obstacle without a good reason. Yet, the crew spotted some turkeys across a large, open field and managed to call them across a fence.

Maybe this is because there was a slightly open gate, or maybe it’s because the guys kept up the consistent yelping to coax them in. Either way, it’s a tough one to pull off, but it can be done. While this turkey got away, it was an achievement and quite the experience to call them in across so far.


Wooded Pastures

Similar to the previous turkey hunting encounter, the crew located some turkeys in a wooded pasture on the other side of a fence again. Along with some decoys and good turkey calling skills, two gobblers came into range along the fence and they had intended to double on them. But when the birds got to the fence, they started to get spooky (remember the discussion above) and Michael Waddell ended up taking the shot.

The biggest lesson from this hunt is probably to still pursue turkeys on the other side of a fence, but position yourself close enough to take the shot if they decide not to cross it. This assumes you have permission to hunt both sides of the fence and won’t damage it in any way. But it can be effective if a gobbler gets nervous at the last second.


Strutter/Fan Decoy

You’ve probably seen several turkey hunting videos in the last few years of people sneaking up on toms behind a strutter/fan decoy. This can be an extremely effective turkey hunting tactic. In this case, they located a group of toms and hens, which can be a tough hunting situation because it’s hard to call a gobbler away from a hen. But Phillip Culpepper snuck up over a hilltop with the turkey decoy in front of him and started yelping and calling to the group. The toms responded but wouldn’t budge. Eventually, the hens were the ones to lead the flock over to Phillip, and he was able to take the shot.

First, using a fan decoy can help you approach a group of turkeys if they won’t move. You need to obviously make sure your property is secure and nobody else is hunting turkeys at the same time or it could be dangerous. Another useful turkey hunting lesson from this hunt is that when the gobblers won’t come to you, try calling to the hens and get them to move. The gobblers are almost guaranteed to follow.


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