Sometimes, visual stimulation is key to a gobbler’s demise. Many question when, where and how decoys should be used. Unfortunately, like most things associated with turkey hunting, there are not easy answers.
Decoys act as a lure and a distraction which is obviously beneficial to hunters. Use these three tips to learn how to use decoys as an advantage to your hunt.
Tip 1: Let the terrain dictate your decoy decision.
If visibility is poor, don’t take the time to put out a decoy. Chances are a tom will be in range when you first see him, but there are always exceptions to every rule.
Tip 2: Determine to how many decoys to use.
Typically hunters set up a single hen or a set of three decoys, usually two hens and a jake or a full strut boss. Consider how much time you have and what realistic scene you are trying to reproduce.
Tip 3: Place the decoys in plain view.
Set up the decoys in front of you or slightly off to one side in the direction you expect the turkeys to come from. Step off the distance between the decoys and your position to determine the range before an incoming tom shows.
Tip 4: Bring in the birds.
An aggressive, feisty hen will sometimes accept the challenge of a hen decoy, sit patiently and wait for the rest of her companions to catch up. Or if your decoy draws a gobbler’s eye, get ready to watch a spit-and-drum show before the shot.
Be safe and savvy
Sit at the base of a wide tree trunk, so your back is protected. Also, make sure you can clearly see beyond the decoys, just in case another hunter shows up unexpectedly.
Let it be known that decoys do not always work. They can sometimes pose a threat to toms. Perhaps a particular tom lost some pecking order battles and doesn’t want to risk getting beaten up again, or maybe a wise old bird hangs back and insists that the hen comes to him, rather than the other way around. But in the right place at the right time, a fake turkey may very well be worth its weight in drumbsticks.
Decoys definitely have their place, but like all hunting gadgets, tricks and theories, nothing works all of the time, and almost everything works at one time or another. The uncertainty is what keeps the sport interesting, fresh and fun.