Turkey Decoy Strategies | Part 1: “Fanning” with Strutter Decoys

April 12th, 2016 | Categories: The Landing Zone

Turkey Hunting Decoy Series | Part 1 “Fanning”

Chasing spring time turkeys is an incredible challenge that can have a turkey hunter sitting on the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, sometimes on the same day! Spring time gobblers will test the experience and perseverance of even the most seasoned turkey hunters. Much like waterfowl hunting, turkey hunters are doing their best to stack the odds in their favor, and using all of the tricks and tactics they know in an effort to trick the eyes, ears and brains of an ole long beard. One of these is using one of the most exciting turkey hunting decoy strategies…fanning!

Without a doubt, employing the use of a turkey decoy continues to gain popularity and has helped turkey hunters introduce many a gobbler to some Heavy Magnum Turkey Loads over the years. Turkey decoys and decoying techniques, when used properly in the right situations can provide an excellent advantage to the turkey hunter, helping that long beard close the distance within range of the 12 gauge or the Hoyt and G5 Broadhead.  The art of decoying spring time turkeys has changed a lot over the years, and continues to grow as a hunting technique each and every year. With so many decoys and decoying techniques available for the turkey hunter today, it can be easy to confuse the purpose of certain decoys and tactics and use them in the wrong situation. This 3 part article is intended to help shine a little light on the art of decoying spring time turkeys, and help you ensure you are putting yourself in the best possible situation each and every time.

Bone Collector Turkey Fanning | Season 4, Episode 18 : Lone Star Thunder Chickens
(video) Michael heads off to Texas and Louisiana for spring time turkey hunting. In this episode Michael repeatedly uses a strutter decoy and the “fanning” technique to bring in the gobblers.

Over the past five years, the tactic of “fanning” has grown from a somewhat underground scene to something that is becoming more and more popular each and every season and has proven to be a lethal tactic. The tactic of fanning certainly has its advantages; however, it also has its disadvantages. Think of fanning as a high risk/high reward tactic, that when used in the proper situation can help you pull a long beard into shotgun range that otherwise you might have been unable to make a move on.

Why is Fanning Effective?

Fanning can be a deadly tactic when used in the right situation. The purpose of this technique is to give the dominant gobbler the impression that another gobbler has decided to move in on his turf, and his hens. Much like a big whitetail buck might react to a snort wheeze, rattling horns or seeing the Ole’ Jack deer decoy during the rut, the dominant gobbler will not want to tolerate even a single new turkey coming in to lay claim to his area. So fanning is a method by which you attempt to use the dominant gobbler’s hormones against him. If you strike the right gobbler, there is a very good chance he may throw caution to the wind be neglect all of his “normal” senses and run right to you.

Turkey hunting decoy | Hard Core BrandsWhen to Employ Fanning

While fanning can be a very effective means to put a spring gobbler in the back of the truck, the simple truth is that it doesn’t always work. While every turkey and situation is different, there are certain scenarios where you may be able to try fanning, and some where you should avoid attempting to fan. Since fanning is a technique geared to stimulate a response from a dominant gobbler, it can be very effective in a situation where you have a hen’d up “boss” gobbler in the middle of a field with his haram of hens. Letting your Realtree do the work, you can often sneak toward the turkeys while hold the fan up to help conceal your movement. That being said, holding up a turkey fan does not exclude you from being as quiet and as stealthy as possible.

Other situations where you may be able to effectively fan a long beard would be a situation where you may have one or more two year old gobblers hung up, without a haram of hens. These boys are looking for the action, and don’t really think they should be coming to the hen. Once they see a fan, they may get the feeling that they might be missing the action and will come running.

While those are a couple of situations where you might consider using the fanning technique, here is a couple where you might want to keep the fan in the pouch if your turkey vest. Fanning can be very effective on dominant gobblers. Inversely, it can be ineffective on subordinate gobblers. If you know you are hunting subordinate bird, there is a good chance that fanning will not work on him. If he has had his butt whooped around, the last thing he is going to be looking for is a fight. Additionally, turkeys that are on the move seem to seldom respond to a fan, in comparison to those who are stationary and strutting in a field. It is important to remember that every situation is different, and that fanning can be a high risk/high reward technique. You might be able to jerk a reaction out of that boss gobbler and send him running your way, while on the other hand you might send him running for the hills. Just be sure to read the situation before employing the use of a fan, and look for signals such as aggressive behavior from the gobbler to help you make the decision if fanning is the best tactic to use.

Safety

We cannot discuss fanning without discussing safety. When employing the use of a gobbler fan, you are taking a risk. During the spring, hunters are chasing strutting turkeys. When you are using a fan, you are mimicking a strutting turkey. Determining when and where you employ the use of a fan is an important step of the process. If there are other hunters on the same property, then that should be seriously considered before employing the use of a fan. Many seasoned turkey hunters who have successfully utilized a fan, only do so in situations where they can see a long distance to ensure no other hunters are moving in on the same turkey that they are, as well as only using the fan when they are certain they are the only hunter on the property. Regardless, you are still taking a risk and should keep that in mind at all times.

Tipping

The technique of fanning a gobbler is very straight forward and rather easy. Once you have determined that they bird you are chasing is a good candidate for fanning, and you have determined that you are in a safe place for fanning, you can begin to signal to the gobbler by what is commonly referred to as “tipping”. Tipping is simply a method by which you are attempting to mimic that site of a gobbler who is coming in and out of strut by holding the fan upright (vertically) then lowering the top the fan toward the gobbler, giving the impression that the bird has come out of strut, repeating this motion several times. The goal with the tipping technique is to simply get the turkeys attention. Once you have the gobbler attention and he starts heading your way, you can then leave the fan up. What this does is represent an aggressive behavior toward the other gobbler, but also provides you a little bit of cover which should enable you to have your gun at the ready.

Fanning a long beard is a very simply and yet very effective turkey decoying technique that certainly has its place in the tool box of the average turkey hunter. It is important to keep safety in mind when employing the use of a fan, but also keep in mind the personality and behavior of the turkey you are chasing. Fanning is not for every situation or for every turkey, however, if you find yourself stuck and out of options for that a stubborn long beard this spring, it might just be what the doctor ordered to help put one down!

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