Turkey Decoy Strategy for Hunting

Spring Gobbler

Spring Turkey Hunting Turkey Decoy strategy

Spring Turkey season is just around the corner! This time of year always brings up questions about turkey hunting and the best way to go about it. More often then not the discussion will lead into the topic of decoys. Hunters will argue why you should use decoys and why you shouldn’t for the best Turkey Decoy Strategy. What texture of decoy should I have? Should I use mounted decoys? What about foam decoys, Inflatable or hard body? So lets look at some Turkey Decoy Strategy’s.

When it comes to using decoys, like in any hunt they can be a great weapon when fooling an old bird. The placement and type of decoys are the deciding factor when fooling and old tom! Just using decoys is not enough though, learning how to use them is the most important factor for a successful hunt.

Turkey Vision

All turkey hunters know that turkeys have excellent eye sight! Turkeys have incredible vision and are able to detect motion many yards away. Turkeys are rumored to see up to 3 turkey visiontimes greater than 20/20, though there is little evidence to support this. In addition to excellent eyesight, turkeys also have a wider then normal peripheral vision. Turkeys laterally positioned eyes fives them a broader field of view of about 270 degrees around them.

The fact that turkeys can see so good is both the good and bad side of decoy use. With the turkeys ability to see good gives you the ability to lure in an adventurous tom from his position far away. The down side is that the tom will also pick you out of the woods if your decoy is to close to your position. Unless you are using a ground blind or have excellent brush cover (This rarely happens), then placing the decoys directly between you and a old gobbler will get you cough every time.

Gobblers can get “Locked in” on your decoys. A gobbler that is Locked in on a decoy is the best desired reaction all turkey hunters want. If you are positioned between the locked in gobbler and your decoys this can make for a very tricky situation! The old tom is already staring directly in your direction giving you very little margin for error. Unless you are able to shot the tom before he sees you, or have the patience of a high land monk and motionless during his approach you are going to get busted.

If you have time to set up decoys you might as well do it right!

There are some situations where setting the decoy’s up directly in front of you can be very effective. If you know that a turkey will be working its way from the side of your position then this setup might be an option. Setting up facing your decoys and when the bird enters from the side, you are completely out of sight. If you are forced to set the Spring Turkey Decoysdecoys directly in front of you, you might want to set them in front of you to one side. This will keep you out of the gobblers direct line of sight when he is focused in on your decoys. Assuming that you set the decoys in gun range, the gobbler will strut right to your setup and with a trigger squeeze he wont know what hit him!

Another setup some turkey hunters use is placing the decoys behind their location. If you hunt an area where the birds get hung up on your decoys then this is ideal. Placing the decoys behind you and to one side will bring the birds closer to your barrel if he gets locked in. Using a caller behind the shoot to bring the bird closer can also be effective in this setup.

Worse Turkey Decoy Strategy

One of the worse mistakes a turkey hunter can make is placing a decoy directly around them or hiding behind their decoys. The main reason for not doing this is if you are on public land or another hunter is around you are directly in his line of fire is he mistakenly shoots your decoy. Another reason not to hide behind your decoys is that that old tom will spot you out every time.

Never under any circumstances place a decoy in your immediate vicinity, This is highly dangerous for you and other hunters!

Decoys are not necessary to badging a turkey. Although decoys are highly effective, it adds to the challenge to hunt without them. If you do use decoys take the time to place them correctly and in a safe location for you and other hunters. Nobody wants to get shot at in the woods and a hospital trip is even less exciting in my mind.


Turkey decoy staging tips to remember


  • When using a strutting decoy, use a Jake fan. (This resembles a more submissive bird and is more likely to bring in toms of all ages)
  • Stakes can be removed from hen decoys and placed on the ground coupled with a gobbler decoy. (This resembles breeding activity and is more likely to bring a tom strutting)
  • Tying a fishing line to a decoy that you can pull will aid in adding motion to your decoy, and might help bring a reluctant tom within range.
  • Make modifications to your decoys by adding real feathers and beards to make them more realistic.
  • Decoys must be seen to be effective. Open pastures or sparse woods are good spots for decoys.
  • Place the decoy at least 15 to 20 yards away from your position. While the gobbler will focus on the decoy, if you’re too close he may pick you off as well.
  • Realism matters. You know how well a gobbler’s eyesight is, and you’ll see better success with a decoy with the correct color scheme than a shiny blow-up bath toy.
  • Movement is important. Some decoys feature a stake that allows movement with the slightest breeze. If there’s too much breeze, stick a short limb into the ground on either side of the decoy to keep it from spinning.
  • Never use mature gobbler decoys, like the Pretty Boy, on public ground or where you suspect other hunters might be in the area. The Pretty Boy is so realistic, especially with a real fan inserted, that other hunters will mistake it for the real thing.
  • Even when hunting private land, place the Pretty Boy and Pretty Girl at least 20 yards from your location, and keep an eye out for other hunters stalking your decoy.
  • If your “rubberized” or foam decoy has dents and doesn’t look as good as you’d like, take a hair dryer and heat up the dent while pressing it out and back into shape.
  • Open areas beg for decoys. If a gobbler continues hearing a hen but doesn’t see one, it’s unlikely to come within range.
  • Using these tips will help create the best Turkey Decoy Strategy in the woods!
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Gregory Beckman

About the Author:

Hi, I am Gregory Beckman, as the main owner of Military Hunting and Fishing let me tell you a little bit more about myself. I am currently an active duty member in the United States Coast Guard. I have been privileged to traveling the world. My experiences have shaped the way that I see the world and my memories will stick with me for a lifetime. Although I may not live in the country, the country lives in me. Traveling the world I have had the chance to experience the wonders of nature in many different places, meeting many different people and tasting wild game that the normal person would not get to experience. Although these experiences have kept me away from home, it has instilled a deep passion of hunting and fishing in my blood. Thank you for joining our site, and I look forward to interacting and sharing stories of our hunting adventures. Gregory A. Beckman
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