As any seasoned or beginner turkey hunter has experienced, setup location can make or break a turkey hunt. When turkey hunting, the initial area of concentration tends to be focused on the hunters calling game in; while this is ultimately important to bag that monster gobbler, so is the appearance of your setup. The setup quality of your decoys can make or break a hunt quicker than a missed tone would in adrenaline rushed yelping.
Here are a few tips that I have found helpful in setting up the right setup. I usually start the night before, listening at dusk to get an idea as to where the birds are roosting. Ideally, you want to see where they roost, but having a general idea gives you a leg up in the morning. When morning rolls around, the fun really starts. What I like to do is set up in a field close to where the turkeys roost, usually no closer than 100 yards however. When turkeys leave the roost, they generally fly down with the sun to their backs. I am not sure why this is but I have experienced this time and time again and many other hunters share the same experiences. One reason why I assume they do this is so they can locate predators as they descend. You can use this theory to your advantage when setting up, also keep in mind that Toms like to fly towards sunny areas to expose their feathers to the hens. Therefore when planning your morning hunt, you can narrow down areas that would generate the greatest chance to grab a Toms attention.
Once you have an idea of where the birds are, you have checked the weather and picked a spot that will generate optimal decoy exposure and success, comes the actual setup process. One method that I always use is a simple three-bird setup. I take two hens and a Jake and I place them according to the roost location. If the turkeys are roosting to my right, I will set the decoys about 12 to 15 yards to my left, around the ten o’clock position. This way in a perfect scenario, the birds will fly down and see my decoys in a sunlit area with the Jake and one hen in a mating position. The mating position more often than not sparks fury in a chief Tom and will send him on a mission to take the Jake out. Theoretically the Tom will then cross my 12 o’clock for a perfect shot opportunity. While this is a perfect scenario, you can use the simple tips I have provided to maximize your setup potential. While turkey hunting sounds easy, it is far from that. The wild turkey is very unpredictable and a hunter must use every technique possible to maximize opportunity in the field. There is a monumental difference in the definition of Hunting and Harvesting, and to turn the hunt into a harvest, determination and experimentation is necessary. Good luck this year and I hope you find these setup tips helpful.