The traditional decoy was a hollow-bodied plastic hen that did not fold or compress for transportation. The decoy was shaped like a real turkey, but the color scheme left a lot to be desired. Today, decoys are much improved. As a group, decoys are much more true to life. Toms and jakes have joined the hens, the paint schemes are realistic and the feather patterns and poses are more natural.
Learn how up-to-date decoys can boost your odds in many hunting situations with tips from Matt Morrett, turkey products division manager for Zink Calls and one of the hosts of “Avian-X TV."
Decoy set-up and position
There is a wide variety of decoys to choose from and many of the poses represent things turkeys actually do in their daily lives. Use a specific decoy to create realistic scenes that turkeys are used to seeing.
Convey your message properly
- A feeding hen decoy gives an impression of calm.
- An alert hen symbolizes curiosity or wariness.
- A submissive hen says I’m ready to breed.
- A full-strut tom or jake with one or more hens denotes competition for real toms that might come in for a fight.
Set-up with purpose
- Spread decoys out a little.
- Face them sideways or angled slightly away from you, because toms will usually come toward them from the front or the side.
- Place decoys at a known distance, say 10 to 20 yards away, as markers.
- Keep decoys in plain sight, not partially obscured by brush or tall grass.
Most hunters have more than one decoy and manufacturers, such as Avian X, Flambeau, Flextone, M.A.D., H.S. Strut, Primos, Knight & Hale, Montana Decoy and others, continue to come up with improved models. Regardless of the brand of decoys you have, it’s hard to beat a jake-hen combo for drawing a reaction from a tom.
Morrett also believes there’s a place for multiple decoys in a spread, but if you decide not to pack a flock of birds, one hen decoy is enough for many scenarios.
Don’t forget about safety either, consider your layout on both private and public land and try to put your decoys in an opening so you can potentially see another hunter approaching your set-up.
Decoys definitely have a place in a turkey hunter’s bag of tricks. They may not always work, but they add another dimension to the hunt.