Using Decoys: When Where How

Written by Big Game Camera Man on Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Come Spring, as turkey hunters we are trying to reverse nature.

In the real turkey world, in Spring during the mating season, the hen goes to the gobbler.

By calling the tom, we are trying to to convince him that we are the "real thing"—that sweet, sexy-sounding hen.   I'm always hunting with my camera, and  I prefer to use decoys.  If my setup is good, the birds hold in there real tight for a long period of time.  It makes for great video—they strut and display because the focus is on the decoys, not on me and the hunter.

Good positioning is the key to Spring turkey hunting.  Make it easy for the gobbler to find you and your decoys.

Your setup should be in areas like open hardwood, clear meadows, on logging roads, or at the edge of an open field.

A tom is gobbling, he's interested and he's coming to investigate.  Make it easy for him to see and locate your decoys at a long distance.  Never set up you decoys in heavy cover.  If the bird is hot and fired-up, he is likely to hang up on you.  He might not have the confidence to come into the thick stuff.   Instead, he'll just stand and gobble. 

When I find a location I'm comfortable with, I scatter my team of decoys, about 3 to 7 feet apart, just about 15 yards from my location.  I like to use two hens and a jake—the gobbler will come in to chase off the jake.  In some cases, though,  I use two hens and a strutting longbeard.   The hens should be set out in front to greet the incoming gobbler.  My trick with the longbeard decoy is to have him in half-strut, tail halfway down and positioned very close to me and the hunter.  I want to make the tom come in close to investigate the longbeard. 

Safety tips:

- if you have decoys out, whether on private or on public land, other turkey hunters could be fooled by them and start to move in on your position.  If that happens, identify yourself as a hunter in a very loud, clear voice.  In most cases the other hunters will move on.   If they don't move on, you should be the better sportsman and move to another location.

- during the course of the season, you may set up decoys dozens of times.  When you're relocating, be careful to tuck the decoys deep in your turkey vest.  You don't want any bright-red turkey heads showing when you're moving through the woods in North America.  Other hunters might see them and fire in your direction.  As an added precaution, wear blaze orange while moving. 

With proper positioning, well-set decoys and a little luck, you just might get run over by the next state-record tom.   Happy hunting!

Share the tradition; take a youngster hunting and fishing.

About The Author

I’ve been in the business of filming hunts for 24 years now. I have hundreds of hours of...

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