The season ends on the 26th of May, so if you are still looking for Mr. Tom, you better get out there. This time of month the initial breeding should be over. The big toms that couldn't be shaken loose from their flock in the early season, might venture out to find a female that has yet to be bred. Here are a few tricks to get him to come to you.
If you have a bird located, call to him. Remember that once you have let out a yelp or putt, the tom knows there is a hen in the area and will have pegged your general location. You want him to come and find you. It is best to keep him curious. Overcalling only serves to make him suspicious.
These birds have extremely keen eyesight. As they come stalking through the woods toward where they heard what they think is a willing hen, they are all keyed up. Every sense they have is on alert. Because of that, any unusual movement or extraneous noise puts them off. This is what makes decoys so effective. As these big birds close in on your blind or location, they see the decoys and focus on them. You are just background to their main objective.
Although one decoy will work, to really get the big toms in close the most effective sets usually involve four or five hens and a couple of jakes. The number of decoys seem to make the tom more comfortable. Once you see the big gobbler coming, don't be in a hurry. Often they will stand off a bit and try to gobble the hens out to him. Don't get fooled into thinking that you can get him in closer if you give that one last call. Just wait him out.
The idea of putting a couple of jakes into the set is to make the big tom a bit jealous. If you use just one hen he will often stand off and insist the female come to him. However, with the set of hens and jakes he will often come on in to show the young males who really is boss of the woods.
With that in mind, when you set out your decoys in front of your blind or hiding place, put the hens out about 25 yards and set the jakes in a little closer to you. This way when the big tom sees the flock and picks up on the fact that there are young males vying for the affection of the females, he will come in to challenge the young jakes. He will be focusing on them and not be so wary of his surroundings. Also, if you have an idea of the direction this tom might be coming from, set the decoys off to the side of your blind so the big bird will not line up the decoys with your hideaway.
Bob Brophy, an inveterate inventor, has come up with an idea that really works. He uses fans from previously taken birds to make decoys. This is better than the jake decoys you can buy. He takes a fan and puts the base between two small blocks of wood and screws the two pieces together. He than puts them on a wooden round shaped like a pie plate. Then he takes a piece of copper tubing and places it in the bottom of the wood.
To set the fan he drives a stake into the ground and then slides the copper tubing with the fan above, over the stake. This allows the fan to move with the wind with the copper tubing rotating on the stake.
Finding the right spot to set up can really help in fooling the tom. You want to place your decoys in such a way as to make it as natural as possible. If you watch a flock work while they are feeding along through the woods, they go this way and that, but they seem to be heading in one general direction. Keeping that in mind, set them out in a bit of a haphazard way, facing in different directions. If the wind is blowing hard, face them sort of into the wind as no turkey will stand long with his butt to the wind as it pushes against his feathers.
You want to have the tom have to peer about to see the birds. The decoy spot wants to be fairly open, but not so much so that the old gobbler has a real open look. Put a decoy next to a tree or bush, another in a dip, etc. Make it so he has to move a bit to see them all. For example, if you are setting up on an old logging road with a stone wall for a hideout, set a few birds along the edge of the road, one up on a bank and another in the middle. Make it look like these birds are just meandering up the road like a wild flock would do.
Remember that other hunters might see your decoys and think they are real birds. And, if you are really well hidden they may know you are there. So, be very alert and call out sharply if you see others that may not see you.
Here's a recipe to be used after you have followed the directions above.
2 1/2 cups cooked dark meat
1 1/2 cups cooked white meat
1/2 cup butter
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/8 cup chopped onions
1 cup finely diced red potatoes
1/4 cup coped fresh parsley
In a big skillet over low heat melt butter, stir in paprika then add all ingredients. Cover skillet and raise heat to medium. Cook five to seven minutes until brown adding a little butter if necessary. Serve with mustard sauce.
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
2 tbs. yellow mustard
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup beef broth
2 tbs. soft butter
2 tbs. flour
Combine all ingredients except butter and flour in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Blend flour and butter together and whisk into sauce. When it looks like heavy cream, pour it over the hash. Oh! My!