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Home / Hunting / Hunting Articles


Decoy Tips

March 16, 2004

While not every hunter swears by decoys, they can be a great asset in many situations. For one, they give a suspicious tom a turkey to see. And, if the decoy is set in an open area such as a mature oak bottom or along a field edge, those decoys can act as a visual call to birds who may spot them from a distance, but has yet to hear you call—especially when you are calling sporadically (or like many hunters are prone to do on a slow day, napping).

Decoys come in several different styles ranging from photo-image silhouette decoys to fold out and inflatable ones and even ones that move via pulling a string. “Inflatable decoys are among the most recent to hit the market and are great because they can be quickly inflated for setup and just as quickly deflated to store compactly in a turkey vest,” said NWTF CEO and turkey hunting expert Rob Keck. “All of the decoys on the market offer a good dose of realism and have been used successfully to bring turkeys in close.”

One key to remember when setting decoys out is that wild turkeys are not like geese and that just because they tend to gather in huge winter flocks, you don’t need a massive spread of decoys to entice them in your direction. In fact, the opposite is often true.

A good decoy spread for turkeys amounts to no more than more than a pair of hens and a single jake like the Buckwing’s Lifelite Flock Decoy Set available through NWTF’s Turkey Shoppe at Place the jake facing you so when the jealous gobbler rushes in to square off on his younger competition, his back will be to you offering a chance to make any last minute adjustments in your aim. The breeding jake and hen decoy is another great setup that has hit the market in recent years.

Like every aspect of hunting, safety is a key concern when using decoys. Here’s a few tips on decoy safety:

  • Never carry an uncovered decoy any distance. (Check local regulations to make sure use of decoys is legal.)
  • From a seated position, identify the clearest line of vision to your front. Establish a sight line that allows 100 yards of visibility. Then set your decoy(s) approximately 20 yards from your position on the line.
  • If you are calling over decoys and elect to move to a new location, check carefully to ensure that no one is stalking your decoys. Check before leaving your setup. Should you see someone in the area, (especially close to your line of sight) call out to them in a loud, clear voice.

The NWTF is a great resource for turkey hunting tips and other wild turkey information. Visit the NWTF’s Web site for information or call 800-THE-NWTF to become a NWTF member and receive one of their great magazines filled with turkey hunting tips and stories.


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