Written by Bethany Beathard
Spring time will be upon us soon, which means gobbler chasing weekends. If you want to increase your chances of turkey harvesting success, consider investing in a turkey decoy. The purpose of using decoys is to lure in a wild tom turkey. Decoy manufactures continue to produce realistic designs. According to Audubon bird studies, turkeys have excellent eyesight. They are able to see three times more clearly than 20/20 vision. Additionally, they can also see in color and have a 270-degree field of vision. This provides them an upper hand on both predators and hunters. It can be challenging when trying to choose the right turkey decoy for you. Be sure to research the states regulations regarding the use of decoys prior to purchasing. First and foremost decide on how much you are willing to invest and set your budget. Consider the terrain and time of season you will be hunting. Scouting the turkey’s behavior in your local setting will be a benefit.
Most Realistic Tom: Avian-X HDR Strutter
You get what you pay for here, as far as realism and durability. Avian-X has created a life-like, high quality design. These decoys are made up of a molded dura-rubber material with non-chip paint. They are collapsible; yet, not the fastest to deploy in a hurry. This tom features a versatile design. You can exchange the heads between worked up tom’s red, white and blue display or a relaxed tom’s solid white head. Avian-X really added to the versatility with this bird. The adjustable synthetic tail fan and beard allow you to transform the decoy from tom to jake. This heavy-duty construction will really increase the longevity of use over multiple seasons. The cons are these decoys tend to be on the bulkier side and are an expensive investment.
Most Realistic Hen decoy: Avian-X HDR Hen or Avian-X HDR Heavy-Duty Feeder Hen
Avian-X has really put in the work creating versatile hen designs. First, the Avian-X HDR Hen, is perfect for tempting aggressive, dominant toms. This decoy includes 2 removable head designs, resting and active. Next, the Avian-X HDR Heavy-Duty Feeder Hen, showcases a relaxed hen, easily inviting on-looking toms. Both hen decoys showcase enhanced flocking and realistic paint detail, adding to the realism. Again, Avian-X has made another collapsible decoy to withstand years of use. However, these decoy are still expensive and not the most compact design.
Most Realistic and Budget Friendly Set: Primos Hunting Lil Gobstopper Hen and Jake Combo
Primos really did a good job producing an affordable decoy combo. The set can be paired together or used separately giving you variety in your hunting set up. The use of authentic colors and posturing of these birds really set a realistic unintimidating setting. Nonetheless, gobblers cannot stand seeing a jake take their place next to a mature hen. The small design and collapsible feature really makes for a convenient choice for on the go hunters. With the price point landing around $60 you really cannot go wrong. Primos set you up to get the job done with this budget friendly duo. A con here is the use of plastic stakes, you may consider upgrading to a heavier duty metal stake. Even with an upgraded replacement you would be well under budget.
Most Economical: RedHead Foam Turkey Decoy 3-Pack
If you do not want to make a big investment, the RedHead Foam Decoy 3-Pack is the way to go. These are a simple foam set that come with a two-piece metal step-on stake. RedHead offers 3 different poses and lifelike painted feather detailing. The three of them together provide a perfect flock to attract that long beard you are waiting for. This set is light-weight, inexpensive and easily packable. If you have been on the fence, purchasing these decoy would be a perfect introduction without the large investment. However, the cons are they are not as realistic, the foam is not very durable and the longevity of use is uncertain.
Best Reaping: Montana Decoy Wiley Tom 3D
Disclaimer: Turkey reaping decoys are very effective, but should only be applied on private lands with no other hunters. Be sure to refer to your sates regulations concerning this method.
The Wiley Tom 3D decoy is one of a kind. Montana Decoys set the bar with a realistic versatile decoy. This decoy offers a 2D option with a see through window, perfect for reaping. Subsequently, the 3D option offers a versatile stake designs for a traditional stationary set up. This tom has the option to add a real tail or wing feathers as a replacement. The Wiley Tom 3D is ultra-light weight and fully collapsible. This decoy gives you the best of both worlds. It displays realism; yet, is ultra-light weight for a run and gun hunt. The price of this decoy is on the higher side and the light weight construction may affect the lifetime of use
Most Compact: Miss Purrfect XD
Montana Decoy’s Miss Purrfect XD Hen is arguably the best hen decoy on the market. This compact design fully collapses and for easy totting. It is ultra-light weight, yet, they did not skip on realism. This hen offers three position adjustments: standing, feeding and breeding. Feather cuts give the added element of subtle movement, which increases the realistic effect. The price point lands under $80 making it a mild investment. The downside is this decoy is not waterproof; and, because it is made up of fabric the probability of fading is higher.
Best Motion Decoy: Higdon Outdoors Motion Full Strut Tom
Disclaimer: Refer to state regulations regarding motion decoys before purchasing. Again, when using motion decoys or reaping method, use all safety precautions. Abstain for public land hunting with either method.
Higdon Outdoors Motion Tom decoy displays realistic motion and eye catching detail. The motion paired with the full strut features will surely have that longbeard ready to engage. This motioning tom decoy really makes for an irresistible set up. This decoy is battery operated and will take a moment to set up. You can locate an easy tote hand on the bottom of the fan. A magnetic fan mount allows you the option to replace the fan with a natural fan. The cons with this bird is the high cost and some state prohibit the use of motion decoys.
It is no secret that the turkey decoy business is booming. Companies continue to produce realistic birds and I see no end in sight. Hunting over decoys adds an upper hand to the hunter trying to lure in a tom. Having a decoy or a decoy spread gives the turkeys a visual endorsement to you calls. Do you need a decoy? No, but is a good addition and may be a crucial piece to securing your harvest. As always, be cautious when transporting decoys or harvested birds through the woods. When hunting over decoys be aware if other hunters are in the area. Also consider you proximity to the decoy, better safe than sorry. Happy hunting everyone!