Wild turkey hunters are famous for their bags of dirty tricks. Dirty perhaps in the glaring eyes of a tom gobbler that just got schnooked by some kind of off-the-wall tactic that reduced his existence to a plate of fajitas.

For turkey hunters, much more of the thrill to the hunt than a good shot on a big flame red headed target is the strategy used to bring the shot about in the first place.

Any well-seasoned turkey hunter with years of experience will quickly admit that the game of turkey hunting is all about the game. Then, even when a hunter works the situation to the best of his ability, in time the tables will surely turn in favor of the bird, too. In fact, the gobblers win more often than not. It keeps us all coming back.

In the scheme of things then, a number of rather informally standardized turkey hunting strategies and tactics have evolved over the years. Every turkey hunter either has these tricks already available in his bag, or is in the process of adding them.

Hunters new to the turkey hunting game will definitely want to put these ideas to work this year. While some of these may seem way too simple, just remember quite often they really work well.

Fast-track cutoff

Traditional turkey hunting schooling teaches hunters to sneak into the woods well before light and set up on a bird roosted the evening before.

Now, tell the truth. How many times have you sat in the woods the evening before a hunt just to watch a gobbler ascend to his lofty tree canopy bedroom?

Many hunters have abandoned this old-time tactic.

In its favor is knowing where the turkey flock will head once it sails off the roost to settle on the ground. Usually it is a prime feeding area or a spot where gobblers can strut for the ladies, dust off the bugs or bask in the sunlight. On-going scouting will reveal where these gathering hotspots are located. Know these places well, and set up there first thing in the morning before the crowd arrives. In most cases, the birds will come sooner or later.

The decoy deploy

Fake turkeys are definitely in vogue.

"I hardly ever go to the field these days without a couple of hen decoys in the turkey vest game bag," said Chris Clifton of Madison. "Now I often carry a jake decoy, too. Using a triple-threat set up, one young wannabe stud trailing behind two hen decoys has irritated many a boss gobbler into advancing his position to the kill.

"Of course, I've had the reverse reaction, too. Last year I set up a full-bore Knight and Hale gobbler decoy fitted with a real turkey fan along with a couple hen decoys. I ended up attracting two real hens and three jakes, none of which were legal here. I have to say, though, it sure made the overall hunt more interesting. Next time maybe a big tom will show up to fight."

The switchback

More turkey hunters are going into the woods with a hunting buddy or a youth hunter that is their own child or not. In doing so, these hunters have renewed an interest in an old ploy of setting the shooter well ahead of the caller in the woods. The idea is to fool the tending gobbler as to the real position of the hen.

"By putting the caller behind the shooter, the gobbler will focus on the origin of the calls and often miss the location of the other hunter if they do their part to remain completely still as the gobbler is pulled in by the calls," says veteran turkey guide Ronnie Foy of Canton. "I use this tactic every season with regular success. It is particularly good for use with young hunters or female hunters as they learn the dynamics of turkey hunting for the first time."

Multi-tasking calls

Every turkey hunter I have ever met has a favorite turkey call. I have mine too. It's an old Primos slate no longer made.

However, like most turkey hunters, I learned a long time ago that sometimes one call just doesn't get the job done. Now I carry a half dozen or more calls in the shoulder bag. I may have two or three different types of slates, a rock slate, aluminum and glass. I will definitely carry my Woods Wise wet box call. Then I'll have several mouth calls.

Hunting momentum and weather dictate what to use. In high winds, I use the box every time for start-up calling. Once I have a gobbler in view or hearing distance, then I opt for a slate or mouth call.

If the action is slow, I simply switch from call to call about every 15 minutes or half hour from a blind position. I might couple this with moving around in the woods, but not always.

Turkey hunting will eventually teach you that when it comes to gobblers, the rule is definitely "different strokes for different folks."

Dirty tricks? Nah, it's just taking advantage of any tactic turkey hunters can use to coax a gobbler into shooting range. That's a tough enough challenge as it is, and even then, we don't always come up the winner.