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Turkey Without a Decoy Success??
So every year I back the damn decoys all the time. Pack them around and set them up move them reset, run and gun etc.
All on public land and all in a situation where I am highly mobile.
With all the turkeys I have killed, I have never had one actually react to my decoys. More time then not they come in the wrong way, never see the decoy, definitely never strutted to the decoys. Sometimes they came so fast no decoy could be set.
I am almost to the point where a decoy is an pain more than a help.
Anyone else feel this way?
They are a pain to haul around. Not heavy but so damn bulky. But, man, by far, the VAST majority of toms I've killed came in to beat the hell out of my jake deke. Soooo much fun!
I really enjoy fanning them in with a heads up decoy. Makes it really fun. Have killed a few spot and stalk
For gun hunters in a lot of situations they can certainly be considered optional. Killed plenty of birds with a gun and no decoys in my younger years.
However for archery hunters quality decoys are a significant advantage IMO. Kinda like binos out west, you can go hunting without them, but are you really hunting?
No decoys or blind is the only way I’ll hunt turkeys now.
I hunt all hardwoods.....public land.....no fields or clearings and the decoy(s) don’t make much of a difference. BUT I would hate to have that one time it might make a difference. Most of the time I set them up too early and end up moving and leaving them to chase gobbles only to to back and pick them up.
I use decoy and in camp they really work. I like sitting in a blind with decoys. Like Ermine said you should try the heads up. A buddy has slayed them last few year with one.
I have a special decoy I call "Humpy". It is a tom mounting a hen. I've had turkeys run over 100 yards to attack him. Doesn't work all the time, but when it does WATCH OUT! TMBB
My sons and I use a hen decoy when setting up over a green field, sometimes I'll use 2 hen decoys.
Hunting the woods, there has been a couple of times without a decoy when I had a bird come in looking for the hen, only to hang up at 50-60 yards.
Now I always carry 1 hen decoy with me. When I strike a bird, I'll stick the decoy close by and to the side. The birds don't seem to hang up when it's sees my decoy. Especially in the thick stuff.
FWIW, we use Avian decoys.
So when you say you don't need decoys are you hunting bow only or gun. I hunted for several years in Michigan bow only kept forgeting to apply for a ATf form 6 and no decoys no problem getting them in gun range but bow range without getting detected was a different story so if your going after them with no decoy and a bow I would love to hear your strategy for success !
I have only had 4 out of 25 turkey that I would say came to a decoy.dont seem to work in northern illinois like the videos show.
I’ve killed them without decoys but I hunt them with Stickbows and I want them inside 10 yards. Most come in right to the decoys in the states I’ve hunted.
I've spot-n-stalked them here a couple of times when they had the early draw tags with only 25 tags.
Not a soul seen while I bow hunted them.
I didn't even think about decoys, but I did use a scratcher.
Now they have like 500 tags and it's a freaking zoo!! haha
Good luck, Robb
Gun hunting they are far easier and very effective on Easterns. If an area has a falling turkey population that would be the most (to me) acceptable form of reducing the harvest.
Guys I know that bow hunt don't go without one. But they don't hunt out of blinds so that is a pretty big difference.
Back when I first started hunting turkeys, in the early 80's, I made some decoys out of plywood, 2x2, and rebar stakes.... those things were heavy but they worked. Then I carved some out of foam, lighter but cumbersome and they worked too, for the last ten years or so I've went without decoys and Ive had react to the call but not commit and because I'm more mobile I've bumped some birds that with decoys out I would have waited on. On the other side, I've killed birds that by setting up so that they are in range when I first see them, decoys wouldn't matter. If bowhunting and was choosing between dekes and blind, it would depend entirely on terrain. Open terrain = decoys Hardwoods = blind
To answer the questions both gun and archery. Answers have really got me thinking about my set ups and where I hunt. Mostly in the mountains no related crops or fields. Aspen stands in the thick brush and in pinon junipers. Most of the time I replicate what I do with elk. Locate, move as close as I can get under cover then coax usually with soft hen sounds. Many times I have set ups where I can catch a glimpse of the bird at 80 yards out then don't see the bird until they are under 40 yards, sometimes not until they are 20. Most of my archery kills came from birds that crossed behind some cover allowing draw etc.
This does not always work, but it has allowed me to take birds every year.
For those hunting a blind and decoys, are you hunting public or private? Do your birds actually pattern? I find the public birds I chase do crazy stuff and very rarely can I get a pattern on them...
Never use a decoy these days. Did have good results with a hen and Jake decoy many years ago. Just not worth the trouble.
Never use any decoys when gun hunting(no blind), always use decoys when bowhunting out of a blind. I have thought of using one of the heads up dekes so that I could trash the blind while bowhunting but they seem like they would be awkward maneuvering through the woods when prospecting for gobblers........ Plus, I usually don't take enough time off to do that in the Spring.
I made this some time ago. I'm not a "deeker" but I did have an old jake deek laying around. So I chopped it up and stapled it to a piece of paneling along with a fan. Cut out the center feather hole for sighting and attached to my bow via the stabilizer hole. Painted with a bit too much red so have since streaked it with more white.
Please excuse no pic. Bowsite far too cryptic for me I guess.
That's seriously cool, Alan !
Would work great, in several areas where I hunt.
I’ve arrowed about 32 merriams, four easterns, and two Rios. All with the help of decoys and blinds. I started with the cheap foam decoys, went to stuffers and for the past six or so years, a DSD half strut jake and two or three hens. Three days ago, I had a Merriam Tom that was locked on my DSD jake. He never saw me and took a texas heart heart shot at nine yards and died after a 20 yd run.
I've been hunting public ground in 6 states for almost 30 years, and no doubt, turkey's reaction to decoys & blinds varies a LOT based on the property's hunter pressure, or lack of. There is one state specifically, Wisconsin, where I exclusively quit using decoys, and only my Ghost Blind. No doubt because nonresidents can only get late season tags, their season is long, hunting is allowed all day & multiple tags can be bought cheap. So there is considerably more pressure there. I've seen every negative reaction in the book. Other states, like here in Indiana, which has a short season and one bird limit, I can use anything. All effectively. Extremely low hunting pressure! The F&W properties I hunt are all on lottery, and only allow morning hunting. Huge behavior difference.
I'm hunting 3 states this year - IL, IN then WI. I will hunt each one differently, based on hunter pressure.
When I use to shot gun turkeys, I never used a decoy but that changed when I started to bow hunt them. Here is a suggestion to use only one hen decoy. Pictured is a single hen but I attach a string to the decoy to cause motion and place it 15 yards away from my hide. Finding the right place hide and then to set up in a clearing in the woods or adjacent to, is the key with blind or no blind but that one hen might bring that tom into bow range and keep his attention on the decoy, and one decoy is easy to carry in the back pack. I have had turkeys walk past my motionless decoys without noticing them so a little movement should help.
I would be curious and maybe posted differently, what decoys are you using that you don't get a response to? Not that either is right or wrong, my experience with DSD Jake and hen combo has been if they see them they come.
Never had them come in every time to my DSD jake/hen combo. Had a tom hang up 60+ yards out the other day so I guess, technically, he came in? Just not close enough?
MW: agreed I guess when I say they come I meant they react and the majority of birds I have had within Shotgun range to the DSDs, have passed on some long bowshots!
I like to bowhunt them out of a blind with decoys and set-up my decoys at 10 yards or so. I have been using the DSD mating pair with a couple of AvianX hen decoys and jake. Once they lock on the decoys they never seem to give too much attention to the blind or what’s in it. Have killed one with my bow spot and stalk but I prefer to call them so I can get a very close high percentage shot. Private land during gun season.
With that said, it is very hard to implement a run and gun style of hunting with the blind and all the decoys after the initial morning set because I always feel that it takes me too long to get all set-up and you don’t know if you have been spotted or not by the incoming gobbler you have struck up. So I usually will just sit in my morning blind calling every 15 minutes or so hoping a tom will cruise by and come in at some point. Bring a book!
For running and gunning with a shotgun without a blind, I think one hen decoy as others have mentioned would allow one to be mobile and provide enough reassurance to get the tom into shotgun range...