From placement to attention to detail here are four great turkey decoy tips that might help you bag a tom this spring.
Decoys are one of the most valuable tools a turkey hunter can have. I’ve been fortunate to hunt turkeys in many Western states over the last 25 years, and here are four tips that have helped me find consistent success.
1. REAL TAILS
One of the first things I do with tom decoys that have synthetic tails is replace them with real tail fans that I’ve made. Save all your turkey fans from toms of all ages, even jakes.
Remove the meat and fat from the base of the tail, fan it out and pin to a piece of cardboard, then cover the base in borax. The borax will absorb the moisture left in what little meat and fat remains, ensuring it doesn’t rot. After a few days, you have a real turkey fan that will easily pop into a commercial decoy.
Real turkey fans don’t reflect light, but synthetic tails might. Real fans also have a natural color and will realistically move a bit in the wind, like a real tail.
Remember, turkeys have incredible eyesight, so attention to detail can make the difference when it comes to fooling finicky toms.
2. ARCHERS, PUT THEM CLOSE
While turkeys have very powerful eyes, their vision is monocular. This is because their eyeballs are set to the sides of their heads, which impedes their depth perception.
Ever have a turkey walk within spitting distance of you? Or, see them cocking their head from side to side as they approach? This is because they’re trying to locate and focus on an object, be it you, the caller, or a decoy.
Bowhunters can take advantage of a turkey’s poor depth perception by placing their decoy five yards from the blind.
Not only will the toms strut right into the decoy, but they’ll also have no clue the blind is there, as long as all flaps are tied down and movement is nil.
Placing decoys close to the blind will ensure a very high percentage shot. Be sure to practice these close-range shots, at home, from a blind.
Different Types of Turkey Calls
3. MULTIPLE DECOYS
Decoys can also be used to communicate an illusion of unbalanced tom-to-hen ratios.
An effective setup — especially in the early half of the season — is to place a jake decoy with two or three hen decoys. I like using hen decoys in a feeding position, with the jake decoy behind them.
This arrangement sends the message that hens are out, active and available, and a jake is trying to catch up with them. When a mature tom sees this, hold on, because he can come in fast.
A jake decoy is less threatening than a tom decoy, and if you can place a submissive jake in this set, all the better. An unsure, scared jake chasing hens will get a mature tom fired up.
4. THE LONE HEN
Of all the decoys, decoy sets and scenarios I’ve tried over the decades, a lone hen has accounted for the majority of toms I’ve taken. It’s hard to beat a simple hen decoy that’s in a walking or feeding posture.
Position the hen decoy so it’s moving away from where you anticipate the tom to approach from. This will create a sense of urgency in the tom, enticing him to get in front of the hen before she moves away.
By introducing realistic scenarios through the aid of decoys, the odds of filling a turkey tag greatly increase. Observe what’s happening in your hunting area and adapt accordingly, letting the decoys do the work.
For signed copies of Scott Haugen’s popular book “Western Turkey Hunting: Strategies For All Levels,” visit www.scotthaugen.com. Scott is the host of “The Hunt” on Netflix. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter.