Jim Zumbo - Everything Outdoors
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Turkey Hunting's Deadly Secret
Some years ago I was invited on a crossbow Oeceola turkey hunt in south Florida by Ralph and Vickie Cianciarulo. I'd hunted the Osceola subspecies before, but hunting with Ralph and Vickie was a treat. They host a popular TV hunting show, and are my favorite outdoor couple. The crossbow hunt was a first for me, and this was shaping up to be a great adventure. As soon as I arrived, I practiced with a 10 Point crossbow, and was amazed at the accuracy. It took just a few shots to develop confidence with this unique and unfamiliar hunting tool.
The next morning, Ralph and I were in a blind made of palmetto fronds. Soon after shooting light, we saw a pair of toms in the distance. That's when I saw Ralph slowly waving a tom turkey tail above our heads. He had a real outspread tail from a recently deceased turkey, and turned and twisted it gently. I'd never seen anything like it. The reaction of the two toms was amazing. They came racing in, and when they were 25 yards out, I took a shot. The arrow flew true, and I had achieved a first. It was my first tom ever with an arrow. But what happened next really blew me away. We remained in the blind, and Ralph continued to wave the tail. The second gobbler was beside himself, and carried on in a frenzy. The tail was driving him crazy. He had to see us, but it didn't matter. He was totally mesmerized with that moving tail. This went on for a full 15 minutes, and finally we rose up and walked out of the blind. The bird ran off, and I'd learned an amazing new technique.
It's called fanning, and the technique is now used among turkey hunters everywhere. Let me say, right now, that fanning can be profoundly dangerous. When you think about it, you're moving a real tom turkey tail. If you're hunting in country where there's underbrush, especially on public land, there's a risk of attracting the attention--and pellets-- of another hunter. And even if you're on private land, you don't know who's out there. Could be a trespasser or even a member of your hunting party.