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>>GRANT: Team member Heath Martin recently tagged a great mountain tom at his family farm during the opening day of Arkansas’s turkey season.
>>GRANT: Heath’s hunt illustrates several great lessons about turkey biology, decoy strategies, and hunting locations specific to the time of the breeding season.
>>GRANT: You may remember that last year Heath tagged his largest tom to date.
>>HEATH: [Shot] Golly.
>>GRANT: It was a dominant tom that reacted very aggressively to the Avian-X jake decoy Heath had out.
>>GRANT: Just a few days earlier, Lindsey had been at a hidey hole food plot behind the Winchester. A tom entered the food plot and headed straight for their decoy.
>>GRANT: Both of these toms showed dominant behavior. Typically, during the early portion of the breeding season, a jake decoy is a great choice if there’s a dominant tom in the area and there’s not a lot of bully jakes harassing the dominant tom.
>>GRANT: This spring the turkey season in Arkansas opened a bit later. And Heath and Lindsey were in a Redneck blind at the same location where he tagged a good tom last year.
>>GRANT: Again, this year, Heath started using a jake decoy as part of his setup.
>>GRANT: About 8:00 A.M. a tom came in just behind their blind and skirted the edge of the food plot.
>>HEATH: [Whispering] I swear when he gobbled, he was right here behind the blind. He must have like walked around the creek and came out or something.
>>GRANT: Based on his observations, Heath believed this was a subordinate tom that flared off the jake decoy.
>>GRANT: That afternoon Heath decided to hunt a hidey hole food plot on top of a large ridge system. This hidey hole food plot has been a hot location for Heath and Lindsey for several years. They’ve tagged a lot of toms there.
>>GRANT: And they believe it’s because this plot is at a higher elevation than most of the surrounding area which makes it a great location for toms to get there and gobble from in an effort to attract hens.
>>HEATH: [Quietly] Hey. Good afternoon. It’s still opening day of turkey season here in Arkansas and it’s about 2:30. We just got back in a Redneck blind here up on a spot we call we call Middle Mountain. This year it’s just bare ground. I had some grass and stuff taking it over.
>>HEATH: [Quietly] I’ve kind of neglected the food plot. So, I came in here when everything started greening up and I killed it with Roundup and I’m just gonna redo the food plot. So, anyway, it’s not green right now. But the turkeys still like to come in here and strut and walk through it.
>>HEATH: [Quietly] I was getting some Reconyx videos of birds in here in the afternoons off and on, pretty well all week here leading up to season. Just anywhere from one or two to three, four, five, six o’clock. So, we got on a bird this morning. Actually, got one come in behind us and gobble pretty close to the blind.
>>HEATH: [Quietly] But we had a jake and a hen decoy out. I think he probably saw the jake and wasn’t interested. Might not have been a very aggressive bird. So, we’re gonna put the single hen out up here this evening; just kick back and enjoy the afternoon.
>>GRANT: A single hen decoy is a much less aggressive presentation than a jake decoy. And they believed, based on that tom flaring off their jake decoy that morning, they needed to tone it down and put out the hen.
>>GRANT: Of course, a hen will attract both dominant and subordinate toms.
>>GRANT: It wasn’t long after Heath and Lindsey had settled in that they heard some leaves crunching close by.
>>GRANT: You may notice that Heath’s Winchester was leaning against a blind and that’s because that tom came in super quiet.
>>GRANT: With the tom only a few yards away, he sat still and waited patiently.
>>GRANT: As the tom made his way towards the decoy, his vision was blocked from the blind because he had his fan out. And Heath took this opportunity to quietly reach for the shotgun.
>>HEATH: [Whispering] [Indiscernible]
>>HEATH: [Whispering] Well, 4:22, so we’ve been here two hours. When he walked by us at about five steps right here on the corner, and then he saw the hen decoy. And he just took his time and eased up in there quiet. You could tell he’s probably not the dominant bird because he’s kind of sneaking up in there and put on a show. And so, the ole food plot comes through again.
>>HEATH: Nice bird. Good spur on that, actually.
>>GRANT: Great job, Team Martin. You’ve got some fresh turkey meat to enjoy this spring.
>> ANNOUNCER: GrowingDeer is brought to you by Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s. Also by Reconyx, Green Cover Food Plots, Winchester, Avian-X Decoys, LaCrosse Footwear, Thlete Outdoor Apparel, Morrell Targets, Summit Treestands, RTP Outdoors, Yamaha, Fourth Arrow, HuntStand, Scorpion Venom Archery, Case IH Tractors, Burris Optics, Bloodsport Arrows, Code Blue, D/Code, G5 Broadheads, Prime Bows, and Redneck Hunting Blinds.
>>HEATH: Turkey. It’s what’s for dinner.
>>GRANT: Heath’s decoy strategy was spot on. He chose to use a hen that afternoon based on his observations of a tom flaring off a jake that morning.
>>GRANT: I also wish to share another observation from Heath’s hunt.
>>GRANT: Heath tagged that tom April 19th, the same day team member Danny Naugle and myself tagged two toms right here in southern Missouri.
>>GRANT: All three of us tagged toms while using hen decoys. However, the behavior of Heath’s tom to the decoy several hours south of here was much different than what Danny and I observed.
>>GRANT: I had a single hen decoy out. And the tom that responded to my calling came across the food plot slowly fanning just a little bit and eating as he went. He didn’t rush in like he was excited and I’m confident he was a subordinate tom.
>>GRANT: When the tom was about 70 yards out, a hawk swept in, tried to kill our decoy by putting his talons on the neck, and knocked our decoy over.
>>GRANT: The tom had been coming slowly and wasn’t strutting the whole way. But certainly, after that hawk knocked over the decoy, he skirted the area.
>>GRANT: I tagged that tom at 48 yards using my 20 gauge.
>>GRANT: Danny was also hunting here in southwest Missouri about an hour west of here. And he had two hen decoys set out.
>>GRANT: Danny had set up close to where he believed a dominant tom was roosted.
>>GRANT: Once the tom hit the ground, it wasn’t long until Danny spotted him through a thick fog.
>>GRANT: The tom hung up about 40 yards out and it didn’t seem like he was coming into the decoys. He was just strutting back and forth. Danny knew he had a Long Beard XR in the chamber and decided to take the shot.
>>DANNY: Boom, baby. Whoo! [Laughter]
>>GRANT: There are many factors at play here. But one of them I believe is important is that Heath hunts several hours south of Danny and I. And obviously, the breeding season was more advanced where Heath hunts than here.
>>GRANT: The tom Heath tagged closed the distance much quicker and more aggressively than what Danny and I observed.
>>GRANT: These observations appear to be based on a very small sample size, but Heath and I have been friends for many years and have been comparing turkey hunting notes. And at the same time, or the same week, it seems the breeding behavior of turkeys is usually much different where Heath hunts than here.
>>GRANT: Those conversations through the years have taught me a great lesson that it’s extremely important to get out and scout and understand the portion of the breeding behavior that turkeys are in where you’re hunting, or know it from years past, and adjust your decoy and calling strategy appropriately.
>>GRANT: If you would like to learn more about turkey biology and our hunting strategies, check out our channels and social media pages.
>>GRANT: Learning more about critter biology is just one of the many great ways to get outside and enjoy Creation. But more importantly, I hope you learn about life. And the best way to do that is to be quiet and listen to the Creator and His will for your life.
>>GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.