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Best Turkey Decoy Setups: A Single or Multiple Hen Spread

Best Turkey Decoy Setups: A Single or Multiple Hen Spread

This is the third article in a series of turkey hunting articles posted to help you choose the best decoy setups to use with your turkey decoys during your hunt. From opening day, until your tags are filled, you can check what turkey decoy setup works best depending on the phase of season.

Turkey Decoy Setup: A Single Hen or a Flock of Hen Decoys

Situation: During midseason, the early-season flocks of turkey disperse, and you will start seeing toms strutting alone or with a few hens. They are on the move looking for company with hens. Meanwhile, hens begin nesting and will feed in the morning before heading to the nest in the afternoon, leaving the gobblers lonely. 

Why it works: The pecking order has been established and, for the most part, toms are no longer interested in fighting. If you are hunting a boss tom – the most dominant in the area – a jake or tom decoy with hens will work, as it spurs the king of the flock into a jealous outrage. But, decoying turkeys is about playing the odds and hen-only decoy setups will appeal more to the larger population of subordinate toms.

When it works: After the pecking order is known, toms are out looking for love – not confrontation. When they fly off the roost in the morning, lusting toms will not need an invitation to come into the hen decoy spread for a closer look and a chance to breed. Also, several hen decoys will challenge a boss hen, and she may come to your decoys while bring the gobbler you want right behind her. But be cautious of calling too much in this situation, as the hens may carry the gobbler the other direction.

Turkey Decoy Tips:

1. The more hens you use in this spread, the better the chance of attracting a tom or hen becomes – For toms looking for love, the sight of several hens means better odds one is ready to breed. And if you are trying to attract a boss hen with a gobbler on her tail, more hens will challenge her dominance.

2.  When a tom is approaching your spread, keep calling to a minimum and let the decoys do their job. Real hens, will usually keep quiet when a gobbler draws near. Take a cue from the real birds and mimic their behavior with your calling and decoying.

3. Keep your decoys close so if a bird does hang up, he is in range of your shotgun or bow.

4. During the peak breeding season, use multiple hens in the morning. When hens leave the gobblers later in the morning to go and nest, switch to a single hen. When a tom hears a hen call and spots a hen decoy by itself during midday hours, he will close the gap in a hurry.

5. Be prepared to switch decoys on the fly. If you are hunting a dominant gobbler, and the hens will not pull him in, add a Punk Jake turkey decoy. If you need more hens to lure gobblers away from the competition, pack more with you. That is the best thing about Montana Decoys, you can pack multiple decoys and be prepared for whatever situation you may face in the woods. Also trust your scouting reports and give the decoys time to do their job before changing the setup.

Expert Analysis:

"If you spend enough days turkey hunting, a whole lot of the turkeys you are going to kill are a product of sitting blind somewhere. When I am blind calling, I like to be in a spot where I can see for a long ways because I don’t want a turkey out there at 30 yards while I am swatting at mosquitos or fidgeting because I didn’t see him come in. The flipside of this increased visibility is that he can hear your calls and, theoretically, he should be able to see hens, too. If he’s looking straight through the woods, hearing your calls and not seeing anything, that’s a recipe to make him hang up. A single hen or a few hens out there is a confidence factor to make your setup more realistic. You may be calling up jakes, mother hens, subordinate tom or a boss bird, but any of those are going to come in to hen decoys when blind calling."                                           -Will Brantley, Editor of realtree.com

Update: Want more turkey decoy setup advice? Download the Turkey Decoy Setup Guide to plan a decoy strategy throughout the entire season.