Posted by Mark Kayser on Apr 12, 2024

It's Time to Tick off the Boss Hen

Nobody likes to be bossed around. Remember that phrase as you prepare for your next turkey hunt. The reason this expression holds weight in turkey season, especially in the early season, is because you can boss a hen into a confrontation by being, well bossy. When the boss hen decides to go head-to-head with your aggressive hen banter, she brings the whole crew along, including a tom in tow. When the party arrives at your location and they view another hen, jake, tom, or any combination of decoys you present, Katy bar the door. You may be overrun with turkey intensity as dominance plays out.

In the flock hierarchy, one hen leads the group and that duty falls to the boss hen. She typically starts the fly-down banter. If you’ve ever called back to a loud hen on roost, she is the one to ratchet up the morning chitchat. That same lead hen usually takes the flock to feeding, loafing, and then back to the evening roost. Until she departs for nesting duties, that hen rules the roost. For a focused strategy, target this hen with directed calls in an ambush location. Preferably one the flock plans on being at during the day. Although your goal will be to tip over a tom, dragging her kicking and yelping to your setup can also bring any toms that call that flock their own.

tick off the boss hen

For a focused strategy, target a boss hen with directed calls in an ambush location.

Although I have had luck coercing a hen from the limb to lead the flock to land in my lap at daybreak, the opposite occurs just as frequently. Instead of being overly bossy in the morning, start with a more subtle approach. Soft yelps, just before fly down, give any tom a hint that love could already be waiting below. That subtle love talk will undoubtedly attract the attention of the boss hen, but let her drive the conversation if she decides to ratchet up. At that moment, I believe too much can prompt a landing zone away from you. On the other hand, soft talk could lead to you notching a tag before the sunrise.

Placing a Miss Purrfect hen decoy in a suspected landing zone well before shooting light is key. Your decoy should be set up at least a half hour before shooting light and 45 minutes prior is even better. This ensures darkness covers your movement. Turkeys see and sense movement below all night long, so your silent setup should go unnoticed under the cover of darkness. Wait too long and you could cause turkey suspicion in the break of dawn and cause them to fly in the opposite direction.

If you get out of camp late or do not have a turkey roost located, no worries. Roam until you find a talkative flock and then gauge the bossiness of the boss hen. Start with normal chatter and if she responds with equal and a standard tempo, test her will power. During daylight, you also risk having her take the flock away, but also have just as good odds to tick her off. Employ multiple calls and mimic the chatter of a loitering flock. Start with soft yelps, clucks and purrs, plus the sound of scratching. It could sway the hen your way. Tone your response accordingly and continue the chat to assess her mood. She may show up out of curiosity with toms in tow to the flock talk. If you sense a stalled flock, increase the volume and tempo of your yelps in a scolding manner for a review of her demeanor. If she responds back with passion, keep the fight club talk going and look for a setup area for your decoys.

This would be a good time to set up a Miss Purrfect XD hen decoy, possibly even in a mating position with a jake watching over. This scenario has the visual spark to irritate both a boss hen arriving on scene and a mature tom. He could interpret this as missing out on the action. Once set up, continue the backtalk to the hen with plenty of bold yelps included. You want that boss hen to believe her authority is being questioned and someone else plans to overtake the party.

tick off the boss hen

It's a good idea to set up Miss Purrfect after the boss hen starts to respond with passion.

One of my most memorable hunts included this very scenario. At dawn, a huge flock left a roost and me behind in a hurry to go elsewhere. Seeing they might eventually travel to a hayfield, I hustled ahead and set up a decoy along the edge. Small talk quickly transitioned to a screaming match between me and the boss hen, but she brought the entire flock my way. There were at least 30 or more turkeys in the group and I had to let the majority pass by my camouflaged position before a strutting tom marched into shotgun range. After letting a few hens pass out of the danger zone, I tipped him over with a load of number fives to end the bossy conversation.