Using a turkey decoy has become a very popular tactic for turkey hunters. There are many variations to a turkey decoy: strutting tom, half strut tom, jake, strutting jake, alert hen, feeding hen, breeding hen, and a few others. With all of these different styles it usually brings up a set of questions, “Which ones do I use? How do I set them up?” Below are the guidelines I use every spring for my decoy setups.
- Early Season or Pre Breeding – During this phase of the season dominance is the key. If the flock you’re hunting flies off the roost and walks into a field and every tom begins to strut, you’re best option is to challenge him with a strutting tom decoy with a hen decoy or two. They’re sorting out dominance this time of year and he won’t tolerate a new kid on the block, especially one with hens. As season progresses slightly, I will position the strutting decoy closer to a hen decoy, positioning the hen decoy in a breeder pose. If timed right, this approach can be deadly. This is the setup I use closer to peak breeding.
- Peak Breeding – When I see the toms and hens are starting to break off into smaller groups, I will start using a lone hen decoy. My favorite is the Montana Miss Purr-fect. Gobblers might be tired of fighting other toms during this phase. Using a lone hen will peak his interest and hopefully bring him into range.
- Post Breeding – This phase can be difficult to hunt sometimes. Hunting pressure can be high and the turkeys have sorted out dominance, finished most of their breeding, and the gobblers are focused on finding the last remaining hens to breed. The tom may have already seen the decoy spread for days and he’s not having any of it. This is where I’ll try and build his confidence and setup with multiple hens. Maybe 2 or 3 and sometimes 4, depending on the location. By using all of these hen decoys sometimes the gobbler can’t take the fact that there is that many hens and no gobbler and he’ll come in to investigate. The great thing about the Montana decoys is you can easily pack 5 hen decoys in your vest without weighting yourself down. During this phase you might need every trick in the bag to be successful.
To learn even more about decoy setup check out this cool turkey decoy setup guide at Montana Decoy.
Daydreaming of long spurs and long beards,