Turkey Decoy Strategies | Part 3: Using Hen Decoys
April 22nd, 2016 |
Turkey Hunting Decoy Series | Part 3 Hen turkey Decoy
Turkey decoys have changed the way turkey hunters chase spring time gobblers. No other decoy has helped to put more beards in spurs on the ground then the hen decoy. The use of a hen decoy can be a critical piece of success in your turkey hunting game plan, and can provide the turkey hunter the versatility to be prepared when the time comes to lure that long beard a few more yards. While it may seem simple, there are many factors that a turkey hunter should consider when it comes to deploying a hen decoy. In this article we will explore the topic of hen decoys and cover a few topics that will help you be better prepared the next time you hit the turkey woods.
What to Look For in a Hen Decoy
The art of decoy making has progressed leaps and bounds over the years. What started has wood carvings painted to the best of the carvers ability has now shifted to lightweight plastic molded bodies with unbelievably lifelike paint schemes that seem to hold up to the grind of a long turkey season. Suffice it to say that the decoy selections available to turkey hunters today is very broad and riddled with options and features that may or may not be of use to a turkey hunter. Here are a few things to look for the next time to you find yourself shopping for a new hen turkey decoy that can help you toss a bird in the back of the Chevy this spring.
- Decoy Construction:
Decoy construction has come a long way over the years, and today there are many different options available to hunters. From solid bodied decoys to foam decoys that are easily carried. If one thing is for certain when it comes to spring turkey hunting, it would be that turkey hunters demand a lot from the products they purchase and decoys are certainly no exception to that. While the two aforementioned decoys represent the extremes of decoy construction and durability they each have their place. What is important to consider the next time you are shopping for a new hen decoy is how durable do you need your decoys to be? Put another way; be sure to select the decoy based upon your turkey hunting style. If you are sedentary turkey hunter that likes to post up and wait out that ole’ long beard then perhaps a solid construction decoy is more your style. If you are a “run and gun” type hunter, then perhaps foam constructed decoys the ticket. It is important to consider the trade-offs when selecting your turkey decoys as they can help or hinder you depending on the decision you make.
Most turkey hunters probably fall somewhere in the middle of the road in terms of the style of hunting they prefer. Because of this fact, Hard Core Decoys developed the Hard Core Widow Maker hen turkey decoy. The Widow Makers lightweight yet durable construction will hold up to anything that a turkey hunter can dish out while at the same time not slow you down the next time you find yourself in a “Run and Gun” scenario.
- Decoy Realism
Much like decoy construction, the realism in your turkey decoy is another important aspect to your decoy selection process. It is truly amazing what can be done in 2016 in terms of paint and the realistic schemes as it relates to turkey decoys. Realism can truly make or break a turkey decoy, and a hunt for that matter. Having a realistic paint or print scheme can mean the difference between having a gobbler at 50 yards verses having one at 20 yards, so it is important not keep that in mind when selecting your next hen turkey decoy. While there are everything from skin mounted replicas to lifelike printed silhouettes, it is again important to consider your particular situation and what works best for the areas you will be hunting. A decoy such as the Hard Core Widow Maker offers a life like paint scheme that will not only provide an unmatched sense of realism that will keep the gobblers coming, but will also handle any all the abuse that a turkey hunter can dish out, and will not chip or wear the first time out. These are all important factors to consider before investing your money on your next hen turkey decoy.
Much like waterfowl hunting, turkey decoy placement and strategy can be something that is overthought and overanalyzed to death. The fact of the matter is sometimes a gobbler will come running to the decoy and other times, it is like they know that the jig is up. While sometimes even the best laid plans can be foiled by one wary or perhaps simply one luck gobbler, there are certainly some factors that a turkey hunter should consider before hitting the woods that can help in laying out the turkey hunting strategy.
The first factor is one that we have covered in the other two parts of this three part segment, but for the sake of emphasizing the importance of this factor, we will cover it again. Always spend the time to monitor what the turkey dynamic is in the area that you are hunting. If you know the break down in terms of gobblers, jakes and hens and how the birds are interacting with one another you will be one step ahead in terms of deciding what the best decoy strategy is. For example, if there are many hens with one or two gobblers, then it may be best to deploy not only a hen but also a jake or a gobbler decoy along with her. On the other hand, if there are many gobblers and jakes but not as many hens then perhaps it would be good to deploy more than one hen decoy. Understanding the dynamic of the area that you are hunting will tell you a lot regarding decoy selection and deployment.
There are many instances when a loan hen decoy can do the job and help you draw your Beretta down on a long beard. While it can be good first thing off the roost, if the gobbler already has hens then there is a better than average chance that you probably will be fighting an uphill battle unless of course you are in the path of the birds. All that being said, there is nothing like that mid-day gobble when the hens have left their boy toy and he is out looking for love. In a scenario like this, one hen decoy can do the trick just fine. The key take home point is this, if you find yourself with an opportunity to use a hen decoy or perhaps a few decoys then there is usually low risk in giving it a shot. Spend time scouting and let that information help guide you in how you arrange your decoy placement. If you do that, you should be in business.
Don’t Be Decoy Reliant
Believe it or not, there is such a thing as being decoy reliant. Being decoy reliant means that as a turkey hunter, you will absolutely do everything in your power to use a decoy regardless of the situation you are in. The fact of the matter is, there are situations when it is best not to use a decoy. Over the course of the spring, there will be turkey hunters who experience two different scenarios. The first is a scenario in which they will spook a gobbler while trying to slip out and put up a decoy. The second scenario is one where the turkey hunter will successfully deploy the decoy, only to have the gobbler see it too soon and hang up out of range only to eventually wonder off. While these situations happen to the best of us, if can be somewhat chalked up to the deep seeded feeling that we have to have a turkey decoy out in front of us at all time, or else are chances of bagging the bird are less. That is simply not true. There are many cases when not using a decoy can be very advantageous to the turkey hunter. The trick is recognizing the situations. While it can sometimes be hard to decide, it all comes down to risk. If you feel that the situation is worth the risk then by all means gives it a shot, however, do not be decoy reliant thinking that it is always a necessity as many gobblers have taken a dirt nap without the use of a turkey decoys.
Turkey decoys are a staple of the sport of turkey hunting and the turkey hunting culture. They are an invaluable tool that when used properly can truly help you punch your tag on even the most wary of long beards. If you take your time to invest in high quality decoys and spend the time in the field to determine what the patterns of the birds in your area are, and mimic what you see then you are well on your way to filling your tags this spring. Purchase the decoys that fit your style and be sure to have options in terms of hen, jake, or possibly a full fan gobbler, however, keep in mind that not every situation calls for a decoy. If you use these simple but effective tools the next time you are in the turkey woods you might just be surprised at the results!