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Turkey Decoys: Types and Setups

Spring is almost here, which means it’s almost time for turkey hunting season.

Many hunters use turkey decoys to attract and bag the perfect turkey. Learn about the different kinds of turkey decoys and some commonly used decoy setups.

Types of Turkey Decoys

There are three different turkeys represented by decoys: the jake, the hen and the tom.  Jakes are young male turkeys. You can tell a jake apart from an adult male turkey, known as a tom or gobbler, in a few ways. A jake will have longer middle tail feathers than a tom. The breast feathers of a tom will also be longer than those of a jake. Hens are female turkeys.

Male and female turkeys decoys are available in three categories:

2D Silhouettes – These are the cheapest and lightest turkey decoys available. They’re usually made out of cardboard. While they may be inexpensive, they’re not all that practical. They lack sturdiness and can’t really hold up in the rain. They can be realistic, but their dimensions limit them to work from only one direction. If the live turkeys are not coming from that direction, the decoys are going to be rendered useless.

Turkey Decoys 101
Learn about the different kinds of turkey decoys available, and decoy setup techniques.

Stuffed Decoys – Out of the three kinds of turkey decoys, these are the most realistic. You can get actual turkeys that have been stuffed by a taxidermist. Some hunters will even use turkeys that they have previously hunted and killed. Some hunters believe the best bet is using a stuffed hen decoy. The live toms will want to mate with the hen. There are a few disadvantages for the stuffed decoys. They can be quite heavy, making them less portable than their counterparts. They are also much more expensive than the other types of decoys.

3D Collapsible/Inflatable – These are the most commonly used turkey decoys. They’re more realistic looking than the 2D ones, and less expensive than the stuffed decoys. They’re made from foam or vinyl. They can be deflated or collapsed and easily carried while on your hunting trip.

Use of Turkey Decoys

Turkey hunting should be done in an open area, such as a field or clearing. The number one priority for using decoys is to make them visible. You want the toms to see the decoys and approach them. Placement and setup of the decoys are important factors when turkey hunting.

Whenever you’re hunting with decoys, make sure to set them up 25 yards from your hunting blind. If you set up your decoys farther away, your potential tom will be too far out of range. You’ll want your turkey to be within 15 yards for it to be an ethical kill range. The distance can vary if you’re bow hunting, or have more inexperienced hunters with you.

The placement of turkey decoys is usually divided by walking/strutting, mating or feeding.

Walking Turkey Decoys – For the walking position, line the turkey decoys up in a row. You’ll want to make sure they look like they’re leaving or going into a field. Put the hens in the front and tom and jake decoys behind them. You can attract the live toms by making it look like the hens are leaving. The live toms will want to catch up to the disappearing hens.

Mating Turkey Decoys – In a mating setup, you will need hen and tom decoys. Simulate a mating position, with the tom standing behind the hen. This setup is meant to attract toms and bold jakes who want to fight for the hen.

Feeding Turkey Decoys – This is the setup that most hunters use when turkey hunting. You can randomly scatter the turkey decoys, putting them in a feeding position. The decoys’ heads will be pointed towards the ground, as if they’re picking food from the ground. You can use only hens, or add a male. If you do add a male to a feeding setup, make sure he is facing your blind. You’ll want to put the male behind the hens, so the live turkey will approach it.

At Blain’s Farm & Fleet, you’ll find everything you need for turkey hunting. From turkey calls and decoys to camouflage clothing, you can bag a big bird. For more tips on decoys and hunting, visit our Hunting blog.

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