Best Turkey Decoy Setups? 3 Options For Success

What is the best turkey decoy setup? The last few years, turkey decoys have completely been revolutionized with new decoy materials and super lifelike detail that makes them more effective than ever. But every hunt is different and turkey decoy placement and setup can make or break your hunt. Here it a deeper look into 3 options for achieving the best turkey decoy setups…

Mobile Hunter Turkey Decoy Setup : Many folks, myself included love being mobile when turkey hunting. It allows you to cover more ground, and in theory get on more turkeys. Mobile turkey hunters require turkey decoys that pack well, and are quick and easy to setup – because when you’re runnin’ and gunnin’ it can happen fast! Inflatable turkey decoys have grown a much bigger following the last couple of years because they have taken big steps in improved detail, and durability. If inflatable turkey decoys don’t strike your fancy – I would use some of the newer, foam decoys that have a good, reliable staking system that quick and easy to setup, as well as extremely lifelike.

Tip: Gobblers that hang out by themselves in fields, can be tough turkeys to decoy. The best strategy with these birds, is to get as close to them as possible (hopefully inside 75 yards) and call softly to them – and have patience!

Ground Blind Hunter : If you are a ground blind turkey hunter – you don’t necessarily mind having to lug around heavy decoys – because you likely won’t be carrying them all that far, or all that much (tip: If you have a heavy turkey decoy – it may be helpful to just leave the turkey decoy in the blind, so that you don’t need to carry it back and forth all the time – just be sure to cover it up, or put it in a bag to protect it from mice, weather or coyotes!). I would recommend for you a decoy that is more realistic – perhaps a full body decoy or a turkey decoy movement system that helps control the movement of the turkey decoys – to add realism, and control the decoy during times of high wind. These kinds of options are not practical for mobile turkey hunters – because carrying them around all morning limits your mobility, and often times the enjoyment of the hunt.

4 Turkey Decoy Setup Tips:

1) Never ever setup your turkey decoys out of range. Too close, is better than too far. 20 yards is about perfect. Closer is better, if you are using a blind.

2) Know what breeding cycle the turkeys are in. Knowing this, can allow you to tailor your decoy setup to better your odds of success.

3) Comfort is king. Don’t carry too many decoys, or decoys that are heavy – if they will make the turkey hunt less enjoyable. That said, practice organizing your vest so you can have the turkey decoys, if you need them.

4) The later in the season, the  less important decoys can be. The foliage is fully grown, and the limited visibility makes turkeys move more when answering a call. Take advantage of this by setting up along places that are easier for turkeys to travel.


The No Decoy Hunter : That’s right. NOT taking a decoy may be the best recipe for success, on birds that have been hunted hard, or super henned up. The reason for this, is that alot of times turkeys start to understand that lots of calling, and turkeys that don’t move too much (meaning the decoy!) could mean danger  – and they  become hard to decoy into your setup. This often occurs on public land, where a single turkey hunter cannot control the hunting pressure. Another reason obviously to not use turkey decoys – is because of safety. Turkey hunting with decoys on public land, can be the most dangerous hunting you can do. When using turkey decoys on public land – make sure you can see behind the decoy a good ways, so that you can be sure to notice a turkey hunter sneaking up on the fake turkeys – and also make dang sure you have a good background on your setup – preferably a large tree that is wider than your shoulders. This helps protect you if someone comes from behind, and tries to shoot at your decoys.

What combination of Turkey Decoys?

I’d be remiss if didn’t mention a common dilemma turkey hunters face – which turkey decoys should I setup? Two jake decoys? 1 hen decoy?

Well, that is always a tough question – and the best answer is to know what breeding stage the turkey are in. If the turkeys are henned up, and in big groups – it may be best to setup anywhere from 3-7 turkey decoys with a mix of hens, jakes and toms. In the late season, often times a strutting gobbler decoy with a single hen decoy can be best. If you are hunting a dominate bird – one that bullies the other turkeys – it is always best to use jake decoys, because that will attract the dominant bird to show the jakes who’s boss! If you are hunting subordinate gobblers – tom decoys in full or half strut will likely scare away the subordinate gobbler from coming in your setup. These turkey hunting tips are general rules of thumb, and unfortunately they don’t hold true all the time. If you find something that works for you – stick with it!

Final Words of Advice

Taking turkey decoys into the woods can be an exhilarating and fun way to experience turkey hunting, and the setup always depends on the kind of hunter you are – and what you can carry. A turkey hunting vest is very helpful, as well as a turkey decoy bag. A word of caution – if you don’t hunt with decoys – and you see turkeys, but don’t harvest them – you will always feel like the decoys would have made the difference. Same goes for turkey hunting with decoys – if you see turkeys, and they don’t come into your turkey decoy spread – you’ll think they caused you to be unsuccessful. This is common – and cannot be stopped! Best of luck, and hunt safe. :)

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