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Decoy Tricks
Copyright © 1998 - 2002  Roger W. Raisch * Nadine Adele, all rights reserved

Decoys Department


Spring gobblers either love or hate decoys depending on their mood and how the decoys are used. There are three key questions about decoy use:


Do they work?
What type to use?
How to hunt with them safely?


The following SECRETS will teach you how and when to use them safely.
The reason to use decoys is to draw a gobbler's attention away from you and to entice him into close range.

Use decoys that look realistic and ones that will stand up to hard use. Collapsible decoys, both a Hen and Jake are preferred by Master Turkey Hunters because they're quick and easy to set up, lightweight, and are noiseless when carried.
Despite the most realistic looking and acting decoys, your experience with decoys will vary and there are a lot of tricks to keep in mind when using any decoy.
For example, a friend of mine forgot to take down his plastic, hard-bodied, decoy when he left his calling location. When he returned to retrieve it a few hours later, he found if off the stake, pecked full of holes and nearly 20 yards away from the stake. And, there was a large torn up area with hundreds of turkey tracks in it right next to the decoy. I've even watched gobblers carry collapsible decoys away in their beaks!
On the other hand, I've watched plenty of gobblers retreat from both hen and male decoys, watched others fight hen decoys, watched gobblers totally ignore a male decoy that was very close to a real hen or hen decoy, and watched gobblers breed jake decoys. No decoy type or tactic will work every time.
A final tip on movement....if you use regular decoys, any lateral movement of the decoy on the stake, such as when the winds blows, will usually spook a gobbler at close range too. To prevent this, place a stick in the ground on each side of the tail so the decoy doesn't move more than about 5" laterally.
Early season gobblers are still quite aggressive with any other male in the area, which is why male decoys work through mid-season. Later on in the season, most gobblers have lost their aggressive behavior and replaced it with great caution. Then is when a Movement Hen Decoy can really shine.
You can and will have mixed results with decoys. I've watched gobblers run the other direction when they first spotted a decoy. Younger gobblers (jakes and two-year old adults) are often quite wary of a full strut decoy, jake decoy, or a group of decoys because they have been dominated, spurred, chased and generally made to feel not-wanted by older gobblers during the spring season.
Positioning a decoy is critical. If it's too far away, say 25 yards, and a gobbler comes in on the far side, spies it at 25 yards, he may hang up. He'd then be out of range at 50 yards and probably won't come closer.
For maximum effectiveness, place your decoy(s) no more than 15 yards away. When bow hunting, a decoy should be even closer at 6-10 yards.
Being near a decoy can be dangerous because other hunters may mistake your calling and the sight of a decoy for what they think is a real turkey, causing them to take a shot in your direction. This is particularly true when using a male decoy, or a movement decoy.
To protect yourself, sit in an area with flat terrain and against a tree larger than your body. Place your decoy(s) in front of you, not to the sides or behind you. Then, the danger zone has been significantly reduced to the area in front of you which you can watch. To further reduce danger, tie a small piece of blaze orange material to a decoy.
If another hunter approaches, signal him/her with a human voice, not with a turkey call or by making a motion. To provide the most personal protection while using decoys, use a Ballistic Turkey Hunter Vest, which will repel a shotgun blast.
Some people claim that decoys with a portion of their body painted blaze orange may provide a bit more protection. But turkeys see color very well. Too much out-of-place color will usually cause a gobbler to retreat, especially too much blaze orange.
Setting up properly with realistic-looking and acting decoys will provide the best odds for success, keeping in mind the safety issues.
I suggest using more than one decoy. During a recent spring, I was able to bag two gobblers with bow and arrow while using Hot Hen Decoys and a Jake Decoy   --each on the first day out. 
The risk may be too high regardless of the precautions you take. PLAY IT SAFE! Practice Defensive Turkey Hunting to protect yourself.

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Subjects in the Secrets Library
About Turkeys
Spring Hunting Tactics
Fall Hunting Tactics
Camouflage & Concealment
Turkey Calls & Calling
Check List & Misc.
Bow Hunting Tactics
Safety & Ethics
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