Throwback Thursday Video: DIY Turkey Fan for Bow ‘Reaping’


Let me state this right off the bat: I’m not a big fan of the term reaping. Maybe I’m old and antiquated, but the word comes across as a bit disrespectful to America’s great game bird (in my opinion), the wild turkey.

I hunt turkeys. I shoot turkeys. I kill turkeys. And yes, I eat turkeys. While I’m not opposed to someone saying they harvest turkeys, to me that word seems better suited for agricultural crops.

That said, there’s really not a short-and-sweet synonym for reaping, so I’ve used it here. I guess spot-and-stalk comes close, as does decoying, but neither really captures the whole story.

Enough vocabulary for the day – let me get to the point of this story: As a turkey bowhunter, I like to use a technique that is a hybrid of reaping and sitting in a blind. At times, I’ll hide in plain sight among strutting decoys (click here to read my article, “Be the Bird”), but when I want to be more mobile (i.e. carry fewer decoys), then I rely on the system shown in the video below.

The reason I called this a “Throwback Thursday” video is I filmed this many years ago when I was working for another company. Thanks to YouTube, I dusted it off and am highlighting it here today. Times have changed since then, so you’ll probably have to do a bit of searching to find a CD case like the one shown in the clip. I’ll be using this very same DIY turkey fan on my Mathews this weekend in South Dakota; the fan has held up well over time and is light to carry in my turkey vest.

Important warning: I don’t hide behind the fan and crawl toward turkeys. That’s dangerous, and my chances of getting close enough for a point-blank bow shot are slim. Instead, I wait at an ambush spot, often near a roost tree, on a field edge. When turkeys appear in the distance (evening), or begin to fly down in the morning, I raise the fan. I’m basically using the fan as a ground blind. If there’s ANY chance based on the terrain/cover that another hunter could crawl up and mistake me for a real turkey, I don’t use this system. I don’t want to die in the turkey woods.

The technique of reaping has gained widespread popularity in the last 5 years, but it’s far from a safe hunting tactic. In fact, it can be flat-out dangerous. Reaping turkeys on public ground is stupid (my opinion). Reaping in cover of ANY sort (public or private ground) is stupid. The only time I’d consider it is on private ground in a field where I can see everything within 100 yards of my location. And even then, I wouldn’t try it within sight of a road; you never know when some poacher will take a shot with a rifle from the window. To my knowledge, no turkey hunter has died while reaping, but I don’t think it’s a matter of “if,” it’s only a matter of “when.”

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