How To Pick and Use Turkey Decoy

I remember the first turkey decoys on the market being the foam silhouettes painted to resemble a hen, jake, or tom. Those decoys had fooled many a tom and can still grab the attention of a long beard, given that Mr. Gobbler is in the right mood. You can even take these foam silhouettes, and with a little effort, glue, and zip ties, you can have a dressed-up decoy to help trigger those not-so-aggressive birds.

As I read through the pages of Bass Pro Shop to see what they have available for the newest turkey decoy, I was amazed by how realistic decoys have become. You don’t need to buy the latest and greatest decoy on the market to get some fantastic reactions to your decoy. You can increase your responses to your decoys by dressing them up. The ladies always like a sharp dress, man, so why not use the same thought with your tom decoys?

See how I dress up a decoy to improve success and share with you when and how I use decoys throughout the season.

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How to Dress A Turkey Decoy For Success

I have two lightweight setups that I use to display a strutting decoy. One setup is designed for mounting on the front of my bow, and the other is a stand-alone foam decoy that I use while hunting from a ground blind or along field edges. I dressed up both of these setups by adding a real turkey fan. Manufacturers all send a cloth tail fan with their decoys, but I find them unrealistic. Step one is to throw those out and add a real tail fan. They make your setup so much more realistic!

Where To Find A Turkey Fan

I bought my real turkey fan on eBay for my setup, and the wings I got from a bird my boys shot during a youth season. You could try your favorite taxidermy shop as a great local resource to talk about getting a fan, or at least wings would be more likely. Find out how good of friends you have, and ask them if they have any fans with whom they want to part ways.

With my dressed-up decoy setup, I feel as confident as the guys who do use an actual full-body mount decoy, but at a fraction of the weight, I can break down my setup and body, fan into a safety orange bag, throw it onto my back and head out to chase gobblers.

How To Choose A Turkey Decoy

Deciding on what turkey decoy depends on your hunting tactics and preference. As these decoys become increasingly more realistic, the price, of course, rises as well. Pick a budget, and make sure that the decoy within your choice aligns with your hunting setup. It doesn’t make sense to purchase a fully strutting flocked turkey decoy that is not easy to carry if you are a run-n-gun hunter. For that style of hunting, you will want something lightweight and compact.

Identify your budget first, then figure out your most common hunting style. For the best response to your decoy, choose the most realistic turkey decoy(s) you can afford, and ensure it accommodates your most likely hunting setups. Remember, with some creativity, nearly every turkey decoy can be used effectively for various scenarios, and sometimes you’re better off going with no decoy.

How To Setup Decoy For Time Of The Season

Piney Life – Perfect Turkey Decoy Spread

A crucial element to remember when selecting the right decoy for your hunt is the time of year. Earlier in the year, the pecking order is still being established, and naturally, more fighting occurs. Conversely, as the season nears its end, the birds are more apprehensive about becoming confrontational after several months of combat. Remember that as you choose which decoy to haul daily to the woods.

Click on the video to see how the Piney Life crew uses Flextone decoys!

Early Season – Mostly, I’ll place more decoys than I might during the late season. I take the flock approach, as most birds are grouped up early in the season. A decoy spread might include two to three feeding hens, a breeding hen directly before jake or strutter, and another breeding or submissive henI’llthe mix.

Mid-season – I’ll usually trim the decoy spread down during the middle part of the season. A spread might consist of a jake overlooking a breeding hen with a single additional feeding hen.

Late Season – If plenty of gobbling turkey is still on the property, I’d be more inclined to keep a breeding pair in the mix. The Funky Chicken will get the nod here if I use a male decoy for the most part. I’ll often take only one or two feeding hens to add visual confirmation of communicating birds. Staying conservative will win over the aggressive approach more often than not.

Final Thoughts –

You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on turkey decoys to make them look realistic. Attach some real feathers, and you will produce some good results. Don’t be afraid to even touch things up with some paint. I often give the eyes a touchup of high gloss black; this gives them an extra touch of realism.

An upgrade that is often overlooked with turkey decoys is the stakes. I can’t tell you how often I have broken a cheap stake or couldn’t drive it into the frozen grounds that often are around in the early seasons here in central Wisconsin. Do yourself a favor and upgrade the stake!

Do you have any favorite methods, tips, or tricks that you use to dress up your decoys? If you do, please share with us by leaving a comment or picture below of your dressed-up decoy; we would love to see how creative you all are.

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