How to Set Up Turkey Decoys For the Best Chance at Bringing That Gobbler Within Range

Many of us are beginning to think about turkey season, even though the temperatures remain cold outside. Let’s take a look at how to set up decoys to give yourself the best chance at drawing that gobbler closer and making a shot!

Visibility and wind direction should both be taken into consideration when setting up decoys, along with routine checks for damage and cleaning to maintain their realism.


Step one in creating an effective turkey decoy setup is placing the decoys. They should be placed where gobblers would see them when approaching and should also fall within ethical kill range if you are bow hunting.

Scouting plays an essential role here, since you must understand what the local flock looks like and their interactions. Furthermore, being aware of what kind of weather conditions you could possibly come across in your region is also helpful; for example if it rains heavily and leaves saturated ground behind you may require you to move closer together your turkey decoys than when conditions are dry and firm.

Decoys should generally be placed 25 yards away from you and your blind, to allow turkeys enough room to walk toward them without becoming startled and to ensure your potential shot remains within range. You can add more realism by propping up sticks on the edges of your decoys so they move slightly – this may fool gobblers into thinking another turkey is coming closer, while too much movement could alert him that something is amiss, thus scaring away birds altogether.

Another effective strategy is to place a jake decoy alongside your hen decoys so they strut together, giving off an aggressive yet safe impression to toms looking to establish dominance over other females. Additionally, this setup can help draw attention away from multiple hens already laying and draw the focus of dominant toms who might take them on themselves.

At this point in the season, full strutting decoys should only be used as part of an established hen-and-jake setup. Once toms have established themselves as dominance over multiple hens, they are less likely to tolerate a dominant strutter without multiple female companions around him. It would also be wise to add feeding hens that will attract males that want to breed them.


Concealment is key when hunting turkeys. Decoys add another dimension to your setup that helps turkeys realize you don’t pose an immediate threat, reinforcing what they hear through your calls and, when used together with other tactics like lures, can form an extremely effective combination.

Your level of concealment depends both on the time and type of turkey you’re targeting. For instance, during early season when hens are flocking and toms are jostling for territory and pecking order, it may be useful to place several decoy hens ahead of your ground blind along with jakes in quarter or half strut positions to create the illusion of a real flock and potentially attract gobblers who could engage in some turkey talk with your setup.

At later stages of the season when toms have grown weary from fighting and chasing hens for weeks, it can often be more effective to use just one hen and possibly one or two jakes. This strategy works because toms tend to avoid engaging with hens that might appear dominant, let alone taking on another dominant bird that might not even be a hen; furthermore, feeding poses may trigger jealously and territorial instincts in them that may drive away potential partners altogether.

At any point in time, however, it’s essential to keep in mind that birds will perceive your decoys from quite some distance away. Therefore, every effort should be made to position your decoys so they are visible from where the turkey will approach your setup – this often means using grassy areas such as field edges or lease roads and forest openings along with natural visual barriers like brush, limbs, hummocks or hills as locations for placing decoys if putting up on the ground isn’t an option; try tree stands or elevated hunting platforms instead to increase visibility and effectiveness!


Visibility is of utmost importance when it comes to turkey decoys; otherwise, turkeys won’t respond to your calls. A general guideline suggests placing both your hen and jake decoys about 20 yards apart – that should make them appear lifelike enough.

Opting for maximum visibility by setting turkey decoys in grassy fields and open woods will increase their visibility, and may require extra work such as trimming away brush so turkeys can see it more clearly. Miller advises using full-struy decoys so turkeys can spot them easily.

Movement is another effective way of improving visibility when hunting turkeys. While this technique is effective when targeting waterfowl, its value in turkey hunting cannot be overstated; the same holds true when trying to lure in Toms. Their perches often remain still while drumming or turning upon perches can make the decoy spread even more effective.

Be wary not to overdo it with movement; too much movement may trigger a gobbler’s alarm system and negate your chance of drawing him in. Instead, placing some sticks on the tails of strutter decoys can provide just enough movement for birds to believe there’s an actual female nearby.

Hunting turkey decoy setups requires careful consideration and experimentation in order to maximize their effectiveness. By taking time to evaluate and adjust your spread, hunters can create the ideal environment for calling in longbeards. Remember to remain flexible while keeping decoys in excellent condition – these strategies could prove fruitful throughout the season! With some effort you may even manage to turn even stubborn longbeards into prize trophies! Good luck and please share any success stories with us; we would love to hear about them.


When it comes to turkey decoys, there is much to consider. From their type and placement to setup and number of decoys – each factor should vary based on hunting conditions in your area and wildlife behavior.

Late season requires a more strategic approach; toms have likely been fighting all season and may be less willing to risk their necks fighting hens or even other toms, plus foliage decreases visibility so decoy placement will need to be planned more strategically.

Decoys can be an invaluable asset when it comes to luring in gobblers, but even they can be broken by missteps. A decoy that is too close or off center may arouse toms’ predator instincts and alert them that something is off. To prevent this, make sure all your turkey decoys are securely staked to the ground–about one foot off is ideal.

Unstable decoys can quickly frustrate toms, prompting them to use riskier calling strategies such as clucking and yelping. To prevent this, anchor your feathered area using two sticks on either side.

Too many decoys can overwhelm a turkey’s vision and divert its attention away from your call, so to ensure maximum effectiveness limit the number of turkey decoys used on each hunt to three or four per setup.

Quality decoys add a realistic touch to any setting, yet are usually expensive. To reduce their costs and make them more budget-friendly, buy Rust-Oleum multicolor glitter spray paint and apply several thin coats over turkey decoys; this will give them that eye-catching iridescence of real turkeys for just $5 more!

An effective way to save on turkey decoys is purchasing collapsible versions, which are much cheaper than taxidermist decoys but still look authentic. Avian-X offers pulley systems for rotating many newer decoys including strut models. Practice using one before your hunt begins so it can be quickly and quietly installed before hunting begins.

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