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Although it can't be guaranteed that you will bring gobblers back home, turkey decoys can definitely spice up the game and greatly improve your chances of gathering that gobbler you want so bad.
Turkey decoys have not always won the popular vote though. Indeed, past decoys were not that well made, to say the least, and were even scary at times with their fake looks, making real gobblers run away. It might not be the most brilliant living creature but their eyesight won't fool them.
Since then, decoys truly evolved to become lifelike turkey replicas making real gobblers believe in your setup to your great pleasure. With proper strategies according to the period of the season you are using your decoys, you may as well come back with your hands full which are what you wish for don't you!?
This article will show you what I consider to be the best turkey decoys for the money and what you should know about each of them such as how to use them in several strategies and the kind of hunt you should be looking forward to taking part according to the type of decoy.
We will look at two different decoy models, LCD and Turkey Reaping Decoy. The LCD means "Lifelike Collapsible Decoy" which is much like a real turkey once unfolded and inflated. The Turkey Reaping Decoy is one the hunter holds in his hand and behind which he hides to attract and hunt down gobblers.
If you are new to turkey hunting, you may have heard the word gobbler, tom, jake, and hen so let's first start by defining the three different turkeys you may be facing when choosing a decoy and what dissociates them from one another.
Gobbler and Tom are two different words that refer to the same type of turkey, the mature male that you are preferably looking forward to hunting. When he struts, the feathers of Tom's tail are all the same length making a perfect half circle. They also have a beard, 8 or 9 inches long, growing out of the breast.
The Jake is the juvenile male turkey. It can be differentiated from the adult male by two main aspects; the center feathers of the tail are longer than the outer feathers making it uneven like the picture above shows and the beard would be around 5 inches or shorter.
The Hen is obviously the female turkey. Basically, she is the one the male is looking forward to mating with and it is the most important decoy you will need to use in order to attract those gobblers.
Now that you know which turkey is which, let's have a look at those best turkey decoys I have mentioned earlier.
Before I start, note that the most realistic turkey decoy ever that you can use will always be a stuffed turkey that either you have previously hunted and got stuffed or that you have actually bought from a taxidermist. Although note that it is the most expensive way to get a decoy plus they are quite bulky and heavy, therefore much less easy to pack, store and transport. So the question that you have to ask yourself is "Do I need to spend as much to harvest gobblers with a non-collapsible decoy?" well I can't really answer that for you because, at the end, it comes down to personal preferences and budget you have available for your decoys. But I can tell that with the following decoys I am about to show you, there is no reason "decoy related" that you would not be able to harvest some turkeys.
I am splitting the decoys into two categories; the best lifelike turkey decoys and the best turkey reaping decoys.
They are my favorite above all others. The Avian X Turkey Decoys are pretty much all good models and can all be used in different setup strategies depending on the area and according to the period of the season you want to attract gobblers.
The Avian X Decoys display an unmatched realism from the attention to details they were made with along with realistic eyes and the no-flake paint.
Those decoys feature a dura-rubber material giving them an extensive lifespan and resistance to wear and tear.
The folding stake allows the turkey decoy to make minimal realist moves and will not start to spin on a windy day to spook gobblers out.
The Avian X turkeys are made about 15% smaller than real turkeys so it does not scare away wary gobblers.
The decoys are pretty easy to setup, open the valve, blow some air in it, close the valve and you are good to go.
The image above shows the Breeder Hen model but the Avian X Turkey Decoys also include the Lookout Hen, the Feeder Hen, the Lay Down Hen, the Quarter Strut Jake, The Half Strut Jake and the Strutter (as shown below).
I will briefly describe each type of decoys aforementioned to give you the big picture of their purpose.
- The Breeder Hen as its name indicates, display an inviting ready to mate position for gobblers to show up. Probably the best hen you can get from the Avian X series.
- The Feeder Hen is obviously in a position to feed herself which would boost the confidence of nearby gobblers to pay a visit. Another great hen for your flock.
- The Lookout Hen is a non-aggressive yet dominant hen that will put other hens to challenge. Definitely not my favorite but who knows maybe you got the setup in mind for this one.
-The Lay Down Hen is in complete abandonment and down to breed with surrounding gobblers. A very good choice although make sure to be in an open field as it might be slightly harder to spot since she's completely laying down.
- The Quarter Strut Jake is a submissive bird that presents no threat to other gobblers whether it's a boss Tom or a more sub-dominant one that may have already taken a beating in the earlier season in seek of an opportunity to come back strong and win back his confidence.
- The Half Strut Jake is a passive bird that may be seen as an intruder which won't be tolerated by a dominant gobbler and less dominant Toms and Jakes will be more confident to approach as it feels less intimidating than a full strut gobbler.
- The Strutter will surely attract dominant Toms and Jakes to try to make him leave and keep the hen for themselves. Though, with its 15% smaller stature than a real turkey, it can also attract some subdominant gobblers believing in their chances of winning the battle. With its collapsible fan, you got to swap the tail of this decoy for a real turkey fan if you want to add more realism to it.
Not as good as the Avian X Turkey Decoys but at the ridiculously low price you can get one of those for, I felt I had no choice but to put it up here.
Do not underestimate it though, it may be evident that this decoy is not so realistic in look even if it features some nice feather details but it can still attract gobblers efficiently when properly used in setups.
This decoy includes a stake and is made of polyethylene foam making it pretty soft and lightweight to transport.
Plus this hen is a 3 in 1 since you can put her up in standing, breeding and feeding position which brings, even more, value to this decoy as you can adapt your setup to the environment and behaviors.
You can also check out the Love Triangle Flock Decoy at 79.99$ which features the same Feather Flex 3-position Hen Decoy in addition to an aggressive and a passive Jake to complete the flock. A pretty good deal to get three turkey decoys, you almost get them at the price of two.
This one is the best in my opinion even if it is almost a tie with my second choice below. What I like most about this one though are the extended bottom wings that keep you well covered when sneaking up on a gobbler.
The Mojo Scoot & Shoot performs really well due to its true to life look and extreme attention to details. The focus of real-life gobblers simply gets locked onto that decoy allowing you to move cheerfully behind it without being spotted. The dimensions of the Scoot and Shoot are 37" high x 26" wide x 12" deep.
This foaming body made decoy with a rugged metal frame is quite light at 4 pounds and easy to maneuver with the handle built-in to the ground stake. You get to move towards gobblers and put down the decoy with ease to prepare your shot.
You can even add more realism to the Mojo by removing the synthetic fan (tail) and replacing it with the real fan of a previously hunted gobbler which makes a notable difference.
For safety purposes, it is best to use in open areas to be well displayed and get other hunters to know that you are not a real turkey. You can also notice two orange strips, one on each bottom wing which helps signal those hungry hunters that you are human after all and stay safe behind your decoy. Still, it would be strongly advised to use that decoy on private land only.
The Primos Killer B Turkey Decoy has been proven to work really well for turkey reaping. This decoy also features a high level of realism along with glass eyes made by a taxidermist making you believe he is actually looking at you.
Such as the previous model reviewed, you can also remove the synthetic fan to replace it with a real turkey tail making it look like a true strutter.
The decoy can be rolled up and put into your vest or you carrying bag for an easier transportation.
The Killer B can as well be used as a stationary decoy and integrated into your setup strategies to wait peacefully for gobblers to come along. Though your first reason for choosing this is probably to reap some turkeys but know that you can easily use it for both purposes.
Now that you know what my favorite decoys are, I will give you some advice on what to consider when setting up your turkey decoys when hunting from a blind (this would exclude turkey reaping).
It is good to start a turkey season with a dominant Tom decoy in your flock because almost none of the gobblers took a beating yet when trying to go on another gobbler's turf so they are still confident and ready for competition.
As the season goes by, some wary Toms and Jakes will be less likely to approach a boss Tom because they paid the price already so you may want to downgrade your full strutter to a more passive Jake which will be much more inviting for sub-dominant birds still seeking an opportunity to make their place.
Do not overcrowd your flock by putting them too close from one another. Don't place your decoys too far away from you either.
Try to put a Tom or a Jake facing you about 8 yards away from your blind, in such way the gobbler that will come at it will want to see his face occasioning him to position himself in a way that you can take a good shot. Put a Hen closer to your blind so you will most likely have to shoot the turkey between your Hen and your Tom decoy.
You can also try to set up your decoys in a mating position such as having a Tom or a Jake behind a breeding or lay down hen in order to attract gobblers who would want to fight for the hen.
Another good setup is putting hen decoys in feeding position, you can also add a gobbler behind them while he faces your blind.
There is more than one setup to achieve success. Some hunters use one hen only, some several and some will put a male or two in the flock and some don't use decoys. It is all about knowing your environment, mating habits of the surrounding gobblers and the time of the season you are hunting.
As the article comes to an end, here are a couple more turkey hunting tips to improve or at least not screw you turkey hunting experience.
Be sure to hide well but be sure your decoys are well displayed for nearby gobblers to spot them, don't hide them in the bush.
Turkeys don't mind about your blind but they are sensitive to movement so be sure to keep the sun to your back in order to keep the inside of your blind in total darkness, otherwise, you might display some movement to approaching gobblers which may spook them out.
Finally, I hope that you liked the article. I would like to read your thoughts by leaving a comment below. What setup works best for you and which decoys do you have if you are using any?
Thank you for reading!