A wild turkey fan (or replica) can be a powerful attractant to a spring gobbler. Dominance is so strong among wild turkeys that a big male will often leave a flock to chase away a feathered intruder. Among jakes, often the entire group will charge the fan and gang up on a mature tom. If you watch outdoor TV show, you’ve surely seen gobblers jumping on, spurring, and otherwise demolishing gobbler decoys. It’s great television and the hunting is tremendously exciting… but it’s dangerous as two hunter learned as they hid behind a turkey fan and were shot.
Using hen decoys can be dangerous even though they are illegal game in every state. When decoys first became popular, numerous accounts were printed about hunters shooting decoys. Jake gobblers are more dangerous because they contain “target colors” red, white and blue. When a mature gobbler struts, all three colors become prominent and a cardinal rule of turkey hunting safety is to avoid them. The most dangerous decoy of all is one that displays a natural fan, since this is a sure sign of a mature gobbler. Some gobbler decoys can be fitted with real feathers such that the deke becomes ultra realistic, especially if it moves.
Location, Location Location
I’ve used gobbler decoys with real feathers, the most dangerous of decoys, on many occasions and felt perfectly safe in doing so. On those hunts, I was in very remote locations were I could easily see half a mile or more and there were no other hunters around. On the other hand, I would never use turkey fanning in any wooded environment, even on private property since vision is limited and a trespassing hunter could mistake my gobbler for the real thing.
Pick a Safe Setting
I always carry decoys so that the target colors are not exposed and place them in a position where a hunter cannot mistake them for the real deal. I make sure that approaching the decoys unseen is impossible and that I cannot be in the line of fire. Should you ever encounter a hunter near your decoys, shout immediately. STOP! HEY, I”M HUNTING HERE. Make no motion until the person leaves or approaches you as a human. When using decoys, safety must always come first and never assume that common sense will prevail. The passion of turkey hunting makes hunter see and do crazy things. Here’s the full account by Dave Maas, Editor of The Outdoor Hub:
Just a few days ago I shared with you a Throwback Thursday video that showcased a DIY turkey fan system that mounts to the stabilizer of my bow. Click here to read my article and see the video. The topic of safety was a big part of my article.
We’ve also covered many stories through the years that highlight the turkey hunting tactic called “reaping” or “fanning,” and one of the most amazing featured an entire hunt filmed by a drone. At the end of my DIY fan article, I wrote: “To my knowledge, no turkey hunter has died while reaping, but I don’t think it’s a matter of ‘if,’ it’s only a matter of ‘when.’ ”