Thoughts From The Field

Blog posts by the team

Gobbler Getting Decoy Strategies

Turkey season is in full swing and many hunters are experiencing success. I recently tagged a couple of nice toms in Kansas using two common decoy strategies. I found the first bird strutting in a pasture accompanied by three hens and he quickly fell prey to a tactic known as reaping or fanning. I struck up a gobble soon after bagging my first tom and within a few minutes there was a pair of big longbeards in front of me. The end result was me wrapping my last Kansas tag around the leg of an old Rio Grande gobbler. There are countless ways to use decoys for turkey hunting so I will break some of those methods down into easy to understand steps.

Tyler with two nice Kansas longbeards

I bagged a couple of nice toms in Kansas using two common decoy strategies.

Know the current breeding phase of the flock you are hunting. In some states, turkey season opens during late March. Often birds are still flocked up and large decoy set-ups with multiple hens and a jake or tom work very well. As the season progresses, flocks break up, males assert dominance, and hens prepare for breeding. The peak breeding phase occurs around the middle of April and this is a great time to use a standing or lay-down hen accompanied by a jake decoy. Most gobblers cannot resist the urge to breed a hen and the presence of an inferior jake will get them fired up. After most hens are bred, they go to nest. Toms and jakes will then be searching hard for any remaining unbred hens. This phase usually occurs during late April or May and one of the best decoy tactics for this time is a single hen looking for love. Montana Decoy offers a full line of turkey decoys to cover any of the situations I mentioned.

Another popular decoy strategy is reaping (a.k.a. fanning). This method uses a real turkey fan or full strut decoy like the Montana Decoy Fanatic XL to approach a tom. It is most effective in open terrain where the hunter can see a gobbler from a ways off. The hunter then crawls behind the decoy until they are within shooting range of the turkey. Be very cautious when fanning a turkey. Safety is important. Have a buddy watching from a distance and be certain no other hunters are in the area.

Another benefit of using decoys is one that many hunters do not consider. They give the eyes of an approaching gobbler something to focus on rather than you, the hunter. Turkeys have excellent vision and will search for the source of the call. Without the presence of a decoy, they may pick out your movement.

Use these tips next time you are in pursuit of a gobbler. One of my favorite sights in the turkey woods is two big toms strutting in tandem, rushing towards the decoys!

Enjoy Creation,


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Internships And Experience

A lot of images come to mind when I think about internships. Initially, my mind brings up the negative ones. I think of working hard at a job I have little experience in, for little or no pay, all while living off of sandwiches and mac & cheese.

However, that’s a totally superficial view of what an internship really is! Most people my age know the struggle of applying for an “entry level” job that requires 2+ years of experience or they’ve always heard that a college degree will help you get a job when in reality – it’s not that simple. An internship gives you the advantage of having job experience, contacts, and references in your chosen field. I’ve gained all of those in my short time at GrowingDeer and I’m thankful to have been here.

Interns help the GrowingDeer Team with a prescribed fire

For more information on internships check out the “internships” link on the bottom right side of our website.

While an internship may not sound appealing at first, it has long term effects in a job search. Regardless of what you’re called to do in life, it will benefit you to live humbly and build up your experience as you pursue a career. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 6:26, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” God has provided me with a way to eat and pay my bills as I work and He can do the same for you.

My time at GrowingDeer has given me experiences that will help me be a better wildlife biologist. This internship has truly been a blessing! I encourage all high-school and college students to try an internship.

Enjoy Creation,


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How To Get Great Turkey Pictures

We receive lots of questions about how we get quality pictures of turkeys.

We scout and look for turkeys or turkey sign. Once we determine an area turkeys are using we place a Reconyx camera in that area and attempt to have it facing north. The sun is never in the north (in the USA) so the camera is never pointed into the sun. Images from cameras pointed into the sun are often so blurry they are low quality.

We use a low camera angle for scouting turkeys


An additional step we take is to place the camera low on the tree – about the height of a turkey. Turkeys seem to look best when viewed from their level.

Trail cameras can be a great tool for scouting for turkeys. For M.R.I. (most recent information) I keep a BoneView in my turkey vest. BoneView is a card reader designed specifically for smart phones. When I walk by a trail camera while turkey hunting I simply pull the card and view the pictures on my phone.

Enjoy Creation,


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Scouting and Early Season Success

March is almost over, and for most of us, it’s time to start scouting for those early season gobblers. We’re all getting excited for turkey season here at The Proving Grounds. One of the ways we’re prepping for it involves the same tools we use to scout deer in the fall.

We’ve moved many of our Reconyx game cameras to spots where they can capture time-lapse pictures of an entire food plot. By doing this, we should be able to see where turkeys are spending their mornings after leaving the roost. Hens tend to seek out openings during the morning while it’s still cool, and where the hens are, toms will follow. Even though their roosts will change over the next month, most of the turkeys will revisit the areas where they have been eating and mating throughout the season.

We use Reconyx cameras to scout for turkeys

Setting the camera on time lapse mode and placing it high enough to capture the entire field is a great way to monitor large fields for turkey movements!

Scouting turkeys is an important pre-season strategy, and it can lead to exciting turkey hunts. Find that early morning spot where turkeys are flying down to, and enjoy creation as you hunt the early season.

Enjoy Creation,


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