Matt Van Cise from Brookville, Pennsylvania, is known as one of the nation’s leading turkey callers, and his resume proves it. He's been hunting turkeys for 27 years, and he's been competing in turkey calling contests for 23 years. He's won seven World Open Championships, five Senior Grand Nationals, two Grand National Friction Calling Championships, a World Friction Championship, three U.S. Opens, the Mid-American Open and the North American Open. If you include all the smaller calling contests, he's probably won over 100. A Mossy Oak ProStaffer since 2011, Van Cise’s two favorite Mossy Oak patterns for turkey hunting are Mossy Oak Obsession and Bottomland. He recently won the 2018 National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) Grand National Friction Calling Contest.
Matt Van Cise | Mossy Oak ProStaff
I believe that every turkey hunter needs two different patterns of camouflage, if he or she plans to hunt all season long. For instance, I use Mossy Oak Bottomland during the early part of the season before we have a lot of greenery in the woods. Bottomland looks more like a tree trunk than a tree trunk does. So, I blend in with the tree trunk I'm leaning against. When the spring gets greener, I’ll be using Mossy Oak Obsession, because it still has the tree trunk pattern but with some green in it.
Hunting Turkeys from a Blind
I'm a run-and-gun type turkey hunter. I don’t really like to sit in a blind and wait on a gobbler. But when I feel that blinds and decoys are likely to help me take a turkey, I’ll use them. If I'm hunting a gobbler that loves to stay out in the middle of the field and spend most of his day there, I’ll use a blind and decoys. For instance, if I've got a gobbler that flies off the roost into a 100-acre field or pasture that doesn’t have a tree that I can sit against or a bush that I can lean up against, I may pop a blind up before daylight and set out a couple of decoys. Many times an ole bird will come right to those decoys.
Another situation where I’ll use a blind and decoys is when a tom is roosted on a piece of property that I can’t hunt, but every morning he flies down into a field that I can hunt. Then when he leaves the field, he walks back onto the property I can’t hunt. I know that the only way I'll be able to harvest that bird is to get out into the field with him, set up a blind and decoys before daylight and wait on him to come to me.
Decoys and blinds can also be very effective on rainy days, when gobblers and hens like to be out in fields. With a good blind and decoys, I can hunt turkeys and stay dry and still video turkeys and keep me and my camera equipment dry. As sharp as a turkey gobbler is, for some reason, seeing a blind out in the middle of a field that he's never seen before doesn’t bother him at all. I don’t use a blind every day of turkey season, but two or three days during the season, I will use a blind and decoys, especially when I have some of the situations that I've just mentioned.
Using Decoys for Turkeys
I always have turkey decoys in the truck with me, but I don’t carry them with me on a daily basis during turkey season. I use Zink’s Avian-X decoys. Depending on the situation, I’ll set my decoys out in different patterns. Sometimes I’ll use a jake and a hen decoy. At other times, I only may use a jake decoy. When I'm hunting by myself, I’ll probably use a decoy one out of 10 days of turkey season. I've got some friends who are very good hunters who work with Avian-X Decoys and Zink Calls, and they carry decoys with them every day they hunt. However, I like to go into the woods as light as possible and with as little equipment as I possibly may need.
One of my faults is that I'm not a patient turkey hunter. I like to get in close and make it happen, or be able to quickly and easily move to another calling site where I can make the gobbler come to me. One of the aspects of turkey hunting I really enjoy is that I can take the game to the turkey. I don’t have to let him tell me where I need to be and when I need to be there. To be a consistent deer hunter, you have to be patient and wait for the deer to be where you need him to be to take him. I'm sorry, but I wasn’t blessed with patience like many other good turkey hunters are.
My gun is an old Benelli Super Black Eagle 3-1/2 inch 12 gauge. I’ve hunted with that gun for many years, and I shoot Nitro shells. I shoot the heavy shot that has five and seven shot in them. That shell and shot always have performed really well in my gun for me. I prefer to take turkeys at distances of 40 yards or less, and I've let a lot of gobblers walk that I know were well within the range of my shotgun that were at 40 yards and more. When you're guessing the distance that you are from a turkey, you often can be wrong by 10 to 20 yards, and that’s an honest mistake. But if I’m wrong and squeeze the trigger, I know my gun and the shells I shoot will make up for my inability to judge the distance I am from the turkey. I don’t want to take a chance on wounding a bird and not recovering him.