Monday, April 07, 2014

The Latest Craze In Turkey Hunting - Gobbler Fanning

© By Othmar Vohringer

For those of you that haven’t heard about this “new” turkey hunting tactic. Let me explain what gobbler fanning is. The tactic entails using a gobbler fan that you hold in front of you and crawl up to the birds. Since you’re hidden behind the fan the gobbler thinks you’re another bird looking for a fight. I’ve seen videos of this tactic and it is truly amazing how close the hunter can get to turkeys, almost to within touching distance. From what I have seen there are two types of gobbler fan decoys on the market. One style attaches to the gun barrel and the other is a handheld version that comes with a stand to use like a blind. (See Mojo turkey decoys for examples.)

This new decoy marketing hype is not as new as some would have you believe. Historical evidence shows that Native Americans have used that type of hunting tactic often as a deception to get close to game animals. However, back in the “good old days” there were a lot less hunters out and about, not unlike these days were we see often more hunters than turkeys. I think that this “new tactic” is contrary to everything we teach new hunters in hunter education courses.

My concerns with gobbler fanning are that it requires a hunter to belly crawl through the landscape while holding up a gobbler fan decoy. In other words, he could easily be mistaken by other hunters as a turkey and be shot at. In my long turkey fever years I’ve seen and heard about hunters that have been sneaked up to by others hunters, shot at simply because they called turkeys and were mistaken for the real thing by those that shoot at sound rather than sight. I still get chills running up my spine when I think a few years back when a hunter sneaked up on my decoy and shot at it without warning from about 50 yards away. I was lucky that day because my decoys were set up at a 45 degree angle from my position and not direct in front of me.

My thinking is that for as long that there are hunters that shoot at decoys and sound, and there always will be such hunters, it really is not safe to employ the gobbler fanning tactic, especially on public land. Even on private land that you share with other hunters, unless each hunter knows where the other is and what he is doing.

Rather than looking for more gimmicks and gadgets that promise success, no matter how questionable from a safety and fair chase point of view they are, I would encourage hunters to work harder to get their bird. For me part of what makes turkey hunting fun, or all game for that matter, is to learn and figure out the animals habits and behaviours. Learn how to call and what the different sounds turkeys make mean - speaking and understanding turkey language in combination with diligent scouting and choosing stand locations accordingly. That to me this is the true art of turkey hunting.

Now I am not one to point fingers, because I too think of ways how to make it easier on myself. I’ve no objections, other than the safety concerns I voiced above, with any hunter using the gobbler fanning tactic. Sometimes moving in on a hung-up gobbler seems like the only option left. But often times that is not possible, especially when the gobbler hangs up in an open field. There have been more times than I care to remember when a hung-up gobbler drove me crazy when after an hour calling he would not advance a single step toward me. But is gobbler fanning the answer to this dilemma?

What is your opinion on gobbler fanning? Do you think it something worth to try out, provided it can be done in a safe manner? Or do you think that good calling and decoy set ups are the true art of turkey hunting? I am looking forward to read your comments below in the comment section.


Alex @ HuntingInfoNetwork said...

I don't think gobbler fanning is a good idea because that is dangerous: you could easily get shot by a novice hunter.

Gordon Gardner said...

Gobbler fanning is very effective but as you state I don't really recommend it. It can be quite dangerous. I thought I was the only one to use it and then I began to see it on tv. I discovered the tactic by accident when I got caught by turkeys setting up a real Jake fan I was using as a decoy. I quickly ducked behind it and none of the birds spooked. I stood up with it walked around and did all kinds of silly things and they still did not spook. I was on private ground all alone. I had kept this secret as I did not think it a technique for the masses and still don't. These that are doing so should be ashamed of themselves and will deserve the large lawsuits they will be hit with when someone is hurt or killed.

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