The big—ginormous—gobbler could hardly contain himself as he stepped from the woods. But who could blame him? My hen decoy stood out like Jennifer Aniston in a small Wyoming town. She shimmered in the sun, crouching in an inviting posture. The gobbler strutted and gobbled, but he stayed his ground. Ten minutes later he left and I would’ve lost a bet had I been gambling on tipping him over. He loved what he saw—at first—but the statue-like decoy soon lost its love appeal.
Decoys can be the greatest asset since the invention of the ATV, but they can also be a turnoff like body odor. Should you use your decoy? My answer is a resounding "Yes!" but you might want to incorporate some strategy and trickery the next time you unleash the "sure thing."
1. When using a decoy, look for the best setup site. Regardless of the decoy species I use, I like the animal to hunt the decoy—that means setting up in relatively thick cover. If you set up your turkey decoy on a field edge where the gobbler can watch it all day long, the incentive for the gobbler to close the distance might be missing. Set up so the gobbler has to hunt you, and when it does find the decoy, it might be only steps away from shooting range.
2. Buy the most lifelike decoy you can afford. I use a mounted hen and, despite the cost, there's little that can compare to the wind ruffling over real, iridescent feathers. If you can't afford the real deal you can cape your own turkey, tan the cape and adhere it to a foam decoy. Better yet, shop at Cabela's for their collapsible brand of turkey decoy or the many others they have for sale.
3. Add some movement to your decoy. I've attached strings to rock a decoy and prayed for the wind to turn my decoy at the right time. A better option is to incorporate a stake that allows the decoy to raise and lower—or at least rock to and fro—with the tug of a string.
4. Finally, go without a decoy. If the turkeys in your neighborhood suddenly become decoy shy, set up in thick cover and make the gobbler do all the work. If he's interested, he'll visit you and be sure to wait patiently even if he stops gobbling. I've had more than one gobbler poke its head from cover without uttering a peep.
Good luck and have fun with your decoys. It's a great way to put a turkey on the grill!