I'm in Iowa if that makes any difference. I got into turkey hunting again about 5 years ago. I was taken as a youth hunter once and got a nice tom and then it was probably 10 years later I started going again. I'm still pretty new at this. I've shot 2 Jakes and 1 tom in the past 5 years. When I first started I bought a tom and hen decoy and struck out that first year. I used just the hen the following year and shot a jake. I've used the tom off and on but have never had birds come in. I bought a jake decoy to pair with the hen on advice from a friend and shot a nice tom last year with just the hen out again as they weren't coming in to the jake/hen set up. I'm just curious if there's a point in the season where they work well/don't work? If I'm setting them up wrong or why they never seem to come in when I have a male decoy out. Two years ago I had 2 lone toms out in the field 100 yards away gobbling and strutting but after about 5 minutes they just left. My buddy used a jake/hen combo and a tom came in and beat the crap out of his jake. What are your thoughts on using tom/jake decoys?
A tom with hens is often similar to a bull elk with cows. If the bulls sees competition for cows he may take his cows and run for the hills. The same thing can be true with a tom with hens. Toms sometimes leave hens later in the day but that's not always the case. The later in the spring the more hens will be heading to nest during the day and more toms will spend searching for receptive hens. Sometimes it takes a lot of time and perseverance to be successful. Turkeys are pretty darn unpredictable. One thing for sure...if the turkeys see a decoy without movement.....and see the same decoys set up in the same area....with the same calls used from 1 day to the next they likely will avoid them. It often helps to change things up and try something new. Some guys say that turkeys have p-sized brains but that's not the case with most of the turkeys I hunt on pressured public land turkeys.
I use a single hen, sometimes a single jake, and sometimes both. They all work sometimes and they all don't work sometimes. I've had opposite reactions to an identical set-up the same morning in the same spot. One tom comes in, sees the set-up and can't leave fast enough. 20 minutes later another tom comes in and stands around next to the decoy(s).
On pressured ground (which I hunt a lot) sometimes I ditch the decoys and brush in the blind really well if more than a couple toms don't seem to like the looks of things.
You're going to get a lot of different answers...truth is that no two Tom's are going to act the same. Try different sets and see what you have the best luck with, Jake/hen is generally the most consistent where I hunt. Springtime in the woods is a good time no matter what!
I use a half strut DSD jake and one or two hens. I set the jake at 9-10 yards in front of my blind and the hens about five yards and a bit to the side of the jake. I’ve had great luck with this set up. The gobblers come to the jake 100% of the time. I usually hunt the first two or so weeks of the season only.
Early season when the toms are still grouped up and establishing their pecking order is when I've had my best luck with my strutting tom decoy. Not so much later in the season. This video was taken on my place the day before the season started a few years ago.
I use this, that, the other, and Sometimes nothing. No two turkeys are the same. Half strut jake, a hen, and a full jake fan has brought in a lot of birds for me. Add a gobble or two with your diaphragm call, and you just never know?
I limit out every year at my NY property. I have tried everything, by far my best results are with a lay-down hen, a standing hen, and a single jake. I use DSD dekes.
NY sucks for deer hunting, but it's outstanding for Turkeys - especially since I have a big flock on my land and nobody turkey hunts in the area. But I've had good results in other states with a similar setup. Dekes are 10-15 yards away.