Best Turkey Decoy Setup: A Punk Jake with Hens

Best Turkey Decoy Setup: A Punk Jake with Hens

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

Turkey Decoy Setup: Punk Jake with Hens

Situation: The first turkey decoy scenario we profiled last week works great in the early season when toms are still fighting to establish a pecking order. A subordinate toms have a chance to move up in the pecking order by challenging your Papa Strut 3D decoy, but as the season progresses, and the pecking order takes shape, turkeys that have fought and lost are leery to approach toms.

Why it works: The closer to breeding season a turkey gets, the less tolerant he becomes of his competition. Using a full strut tom may turn-off subordinate birds that have been roughed up by a tom already, but they will see a jake decoy as a chance to redeem themselves. And, because you are using a hen or two, you are also playing on the breeding urges of male birds, even if the hens are not yet receptive to their advances.

When it works: Usually 10-14 days after the season has started, you may see gobblers are not closing the distance to your spread when you are using the Papa Strut 3D decoy. To tone down the display of dominance, use a Punk Jake decoy instead of the Papa Strut 3D.  

Turkey Decoy Tips:

1. Use Teaser Hen decoy to sell the breeding act better.

2. Position the strutting decoy so it’s facing you. Most birds will approach a subordinate tom head-on or from the side to show dominance.

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

4. If there are many jakes in your area, never use more than one jake decoy. Multiple jakes are no match for even the most mature toms in a fight.

Expert Analysis:

“A real longbeard and a jake fly down, walk to a nearby pasture, looking for turkeys. Mr. Tom is about to strut, but . . . There stands another jake about to breed a belly-down hen, with other hens looking and feeding around it. They’re all fake but the live gobblers don’t know that and come to crash Mr. Shortbeard’s party. That’s when things go suddenly dark for the longbeard. Try it.” -Steve Hickoff, turkey hunting editor, Outdoor Life “Strut Zone” blogger and turkey book author.

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