Most of the time it is not the brand of decoy you use,
which makes the difference, but rather the positioning of the decoy.
The reason decoys work is that a gobbler likes to see the hen who is calling to
him. So make sure that you set the decoy out in a spot where the gobbler can
easily see the decoy. Get that decoy into a position where it is as visible as
possible to an incoming gobbler. The edges of fields and pastures are good
Up your odds by getting your decoy onto high ground.
Just a little hump or hill is all you need. In the woods look
for trails, logging roads, natural woodland openings or the edges of
clear-cuts. A decoy will work in pastured woods, but in woods with dense
undercover, forget the decoy.
You should also forget the decoy if you suspect that the gobbler is close.
Most hunters have had the experience of spooking an incoming gobbler because
they tried to sneak out and put up a decoy. If a gobbler is close, just plop
down against the nearest tree, pull out your favorite call, although you
probably won't need it, and lean your shotgun over your knee and get ready. More likely than not that gobbler will stride into range directly.
When I began turkey hunting, I would say that only about half of the turkey
hunters used a decoy. In some of the states I hunted, turkey decoys were
illegal to use. And almost without exception, those who did use a decoy, used a single, foam hen decoy. It was several years
before I ever saw anyone use two hen decoys. And quite a few years after that
before using a jake and a hen or two became a common
set-up. That was followed by hunters using a full-strut gobbler either by
itself or as part of the set-up. And most recently, I am seeing hunters in
blinds deploying six, eight, 10, even a dozen decoys. Looks like some turkey
hunters are taking a page out of the waterfowl hunters
handbook when it comes to decoying. All I can say is, hey, if it works for you,
who am I to knock it!
Add Real Feathers
Two things have really improved my decoying success over the years. One was
when I began gluing (Super Glue works best) turkey breast feathers onto the
back, sides and chest of my decoys. About a dozen to 20 feathers is plenty. I'm
not sure just what it is about feathers that ups a
decoy's appeal. I'm sure some of it is movement when a breeze stirs the
feathers, but that does not explain the success I have had with my
"feathered-up" decoys on dead calm days. I suspect it is something to do with
the shine or glint of turkey feathers, which the finest air brushes just cannot
match. Just save a baggie of feathers off of any turkey you kill this year and
next spring try gluing some on your decoys. I think
you will agree that the addition of feathers make the decoys more appealing to
The other thing I have been doing with excellent results is trying to ensure
that my decoy (or at least one of my decoys if I'm using more than one) can
move. On a day with a breeze, this can be as simple as staking out a
lightweight foam decoy and letting it move on its stake. If the wind is too
strong and has your decoy spinning circles, just take a couple of sticks and
place them in the ground a couple of inches on each side of the decoy's tail. This will
prevent the decoy from spinning out of control, but still allow the decoy to
shimmy enough to attract the gobbler.
Or you can use a bobble-head decoy. Tie a
string to the bill and jerk the string when a gobbler hangs up outside of the
decoy, looking for a little life in the old girl.
Another option is the Turkey
Sled, a slick device on which you can mount your decoy and then pull it along
on the sled when a gobbler needs some encouragement.
For me, there is no doubt that using a turkey decoy has made me a more
effective turkey hunter, but perhaps just as importantly, deploying a decoy or
two has made my turkey hunting more fun.
For a fine selection of Turkey Hunting gear, click here.
Gary Clancy writes a weekly column for sportsmansguide.com. Gary has hunted whitetail deer in 20 different states and provinces. He has harvested many record-book animals, and presented hunting seminars from Tennessee to Wisconsin. Gary also has authored or co-authored six hunting books, four on whitetail hunting.