Decoys are often a standard part of spring gobbler hunters’ game plans, but fall hunters rarely take along a bag of dekes. Maybe they should rethink that decision believes Matt Morrett, a pro staffer for Zink Calls and Avian-X.
“The most important thing to remember about fall hunting compared to the spring is that you’re not catering to the sexual aspects of turkeys but to their social and security needs,” he says. “Fall turkeys, regardless of their age or sex, want to be with other turkeys. The visual confirmation of a decoy that all is safe can be a real game changer in the fall, especially in terms of drawing a bird within range.”
Morrett affirms that his all-purpose autumn decoy is the Avian-X Lookout model.
“The Lookout is an upright hen that has wings in the relaxed position, her body posture is one of contentment not fear,” he says. “Her feathers have a ruffled and dropped down look, not ‘slicked back’ like she is preparing to run or fly away. We did a lot of research and studied a lot of videos of wild turkeys to create this decoy that is basically communicating all is well – come on over.”
Interestingly, Morrett prefers to only place one decoy in front of him, believing that the Lookout is quite sufficient for most circumstances. Regarding which way the decoy should face, Morrett takes a somewhat contrarian view.
“I want the decoy facing the direction I think the turkeys will be coming from, not toward me,” he says. “A real turkey is going to hear the other turkeys calling to her and face in the direction she thinks they’re going to come from.”
Morrett also has an interesting opinion on how far away a deke should be placed. He says 20 to 25 yards away is about right for both practical and safety reasons. He relates that it’s always possible that somebody might hear us calling, sneak in, and see that decoy and shoot. So we don’t want a decoy too close to us. On the other hand, we don’t want it out at 40 yards and then have a turkey pull up short.
Because he is right-handed, the Pennsylvania sportsman also positions a decoy “off” his left shoulder because it’s more natural for a right-hander to shoot in that direction. Left-handers, of course, would want a deke standing off their right shoulders.
Although decoys will work well in the open or in timber, Morrett believes they are especially effective in the forest.
“The areas that turkeys come to in the woods are just so much better defined than they are in fields,” he says. “Flats, ridge tops, logging roads – those are ideal places to position a decoy.”
A fall turkey hunter’s ultimate quarry, of course, is a mature gobbler which are extremely difficult to kill. Morrett offers these tips.
“Pecking order is so crucial year-round to gobblers,” he says. “That’s why our Jake Quarter Strut decoy works so well. That jake is stating that he is messing with the existing pecking order. Throw in some jake gobbling sounds, and you’ve created an illusion that a mature gobbler will find hard to let slide.”