Desperation oftentimes drives innovation. Years ago when several savvy gobblers gave my static decoy the cold shoulder, it incentivized me to tie a stout string to the deke so I could give it a tug from my hide. That slight movement, combined with my amateurish calls, later sealed the fate for a gobbler during that long-ago season. Today I incorporate decoy movement whenever possible for convincing setups. The safest and simplest way to add movement is to rely on Mother Nature, but if there’s no wind for your sail then it’s time to innovate.
String ’Em Up String movement is affordable, easy and effective. Whether you opt for heavy monofilament fishing line or high-tensile string, secure one end to the decoy and unravel a length back to your ambush site. Male decoy action excels when the deke faces away and spins toward an approaching tom. For hen decoys, just simple bobs create the illusion of feeding.
Ground-blind hunters have a hidden advantage when tugging a string. If you set up against a tree you’ll have to minimize arm movement, but by the time a gobbler arrives it will be focused on the decoy and not your camouflaged form in the background.
Several companies make string accessories. The Decoy Sled includes a frame for your decoy that moves it toward you on the attached string. Timothy Creek’s Spin-N-Strut decoy (also offered by MAD) is designed to rotate when the string is tugged and to raise its tail feathers for a dominant challenge. The Avian-X Lifeline 360 portable pulley system works on many decoys to mimic faceoff movement.
Push Their Buttons If you go electric, expect to spend a good bit more than for a spool of fishing line. You also need to research state regulations to determine if the use of mechanical or electronic decoys is legal during turkey season. For instance, Alabama does not allow such decoys.
If you get the green light, the standout choice is Mojo’s Shake’N Jake. Electronics cause the decoy to raise its tail while simultaneously turning its body. A remote allows you to activate movement from up to 150 feet away.
Companies like Custom Robotic Wildlife take it to the next level with mounted game animals integrated with robotic mechanisms. This is the same technology conservation officers use in sting setups to catch poachers. Sit down because these decoys cost as much as a high-end shotgun.
Hit the dirt Consider the strategy of fanning a gobbler. Take your pick from the dozen or more companies now producing turkey-fan decoys that operate in umbrella fashion, mount to your shotgun and even include the head of a strutting tom. You can also dry your own fan and attach it to a stick. Locate a gobbler and begin crawling toward the bird with the fan concealing your form. It’s deadly.
For more than two decades I’ve hit the dirt prone and put decoys on my hand for a turkey-targeted puppet trick. By slowly rotating the decoy and mimicking feeding I’ve been able to draw toms in close, or even inch closer. One memorable hunt involved a gobbler that nearly walked over my daughter before she sent it to the grill.