Turkey fanning has made a major comeback as a hunting methodology — here is what you need to know
A while back we got this idea that we wanted to switch up our turkey hunting season and try turkey fanning. Although relatively new to mainstream hunting media, it’s a tradition that goes very far back in turkey decoys. And it goes without saying that it has created a lot of controversy across the hunting community about the ethics and etiquette of the turkey woods. Many states have now moved to ban the practice if laws were not already in place. Nevertheless, we all have a lot of questions about fanning turkeys so we caught up with Will Downard, founder of Turkey Fan to go over the three big questions about turkey fanning.
Is fanning turkeys safe?
This is a lot of people’s question right out of the gate and understandably so. Safety should always be the first concern in hunting. Will had some solid guidelines that he suggested and adheres by, opening the statement by saying “as long as you use it responsibly it’s safer than traditional turkey hunting.”
- You need to be clearly visible on three sides when using the turkey fan: from behind and on both sides, making the only questionable direction in front of you. By only deploying the fan when live birds are in front of you, your best awareness of other hunters comes from the birds themselves.
- You should only have the fan deployed for live birds you are stalking directly in front of you.
- Use this method in open terrain.
- Do not sneak up on or stalk “calls,” only visible live birds.
- Be just as aware and responsible on private land as on public land.
- As in all hunting, be aware of your surroundings. Using common sense and responsible sporting can make this technique safer than traditional standards. It’s also important to note that as fanning is becoming more popular than ever, always remember someone else may be out there using a fan also. First and foremost, always identify your target and beyond before pulling the trigger.
Does turkey fanning work?
From firsthand experience I will say, yes it works. Some years ago I tagged birds in two states that fell victim to fanning tactics in under 15 minutes. The most impressive part for me was that one bird had proved to be nearly impossible to kill for myself, as well as for a bunch of other local hunters on a piece of state property. Once I introduced the turkey fan into the mix things turned in my favor in moments once the big tom saw the deployed turkey fan.
Maybe Will is a bit biased on the subject, but creating Turkey Fan was in and of itself a commitment to something he believed in. The internet is full of firsthand videos and success stories of fanning from all parts of the country. Although I have yet to have this method fail me, I am sure there are moments it is not foolproof.
According to Will, the turkey fanning method will increase the success rate of traditional hunting from 20 percent to 70 percent. “Using the right method and decoy that has natural movement to it, such as the turkey fan can increase those odds even more.”
Should I try it?
Morning Thunder will certainly be the first to say you should try anything and learn the knowledge firsthand. Whether you use it as a tactic after that is truly up to your own judgment. Hunting is not a “sport” in the classic sense but rather a natural evolution of predator and prey. Our quarry will adapt to our methods forcing us to adapt with them. It is one of the greatest appeals of hunting and for that we suggest that you add fanning to your arsenal of turkey hunting tactics.
Will from Turkey Fan put it like this. “If you want a chance to experience a dominant tom running in, gobbling, spitting, and drumming so close you can feel the vibrations, as he tries to intimidate you with only a thin turkey fan between you and him, then turkey fanning is the only way to go.”
A.J. DeRosa is an American filmmaker and the Founder and Creative Director of Northwoods Collective. While he is most widely known for the award-winning Project Upland series, he made his first mark in the hunting industry as the critically-acclaimed author of the cult classic The Urban Deer Complex and, more recently, The Urban Deer Complex 2.0. A.J. expanded his work toward the larger mission of recruiting and welcoming millennial hunters by conducting and applying cutting-edge market research across the Northwoods Collective brands. Now a passionate bird hunter, you can find A.J. following Grim, a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, through the uplands with his wife, Sabrina, and oldest son, Marty McFly.