I love getting emails from readers, especially when the message poses a great question. The most recent: “When you’re calling turkeys, how do you know if you’re calling and decoys are working?”

I know the simple answer: Yes, if you’re consistently killing toms. Right? I agree … to a point. My kids have constructed cardboard decoys that look better than some of the fakes I’ve seen dupe birds on private parcels. I’ve also watched hunters hammer away on a box call. calling so loud and often that any bird worth his salt would tuck tail and run. But there are times when these calls will do the job, bringing gobblers on a run in turkey nirvanas.

The guy who wrote me is hunting highly pressured birds on public land. Public-land birds — even birds found on private tracts where a knock on the door results in permission — get savvy in a hurry.

Here’s the deal.

If you’re calling in hens, especially pressured hens, you’re doing something right with your calling sequence. Chances are if you’re calling in hens that inhabit pressured ground, then you’re listening more, calling less and trying to get a boss hen to get pissy and come investigate. If you’re able to get hens talking and — at the very least pull them to a point where they can see your decoy spread — you’re definitely talking turkey.

Now, for your deeks.

When a group or even a single hen commits to your decoys and produces yelps, clucks and purrs while mingling amongst them, your spread is working. Even if they’re silent, but feed casually and never mouth that horrible alarm putt, you’re good. Things are really looking up if the boss hen comes in and pecks the head of your upright hen.  If you’re able to call hens to a point where they can see your spread but never commit, chances are you may need to drop some greenbacks on some lifelike fakes. I highly recommend those from Dave Smith or those inflatable wonders from Avian-X.

Got any more questions for me? Drop me a line at jbauserman@grandviewmedia.com or comment below. I’d love to hear from you!

Featured image: John Hafner