The Three Best Turkey Fakes Available

Things get tricky when words like “best” or “favorite” get added to an article, but those words also draw attention, and for this piece, that’s the idea. These are the best turkey decoys I have ever used, and I feel strongly you should use them too.

by Jace Bauserman

Things get tricky when words like “best” or “favorite” get added to an article, but those words also draw attention, and for this piece, that’s the idea. These are the best turkey decoys I have ever used, and I feel strongly you should use them too. 

I realize the title is a bit bold, but that’s the point. Turkey hunting with decoys is a riot, but it’s also a time-consuming and expensive endeavor, especially if you plan to hunt birds in multiple states. I don’t want to waste your time or money — I want you to be successful. Over the years, I’ve hunted wild turkeys across the country with archery tackle and shotguns. I’ve harvested the Grand Slam and spend over 30 days in the turkey woods each spring. These are the three best turkey decoys I have ever used. 

Daves Smith Decoys 3/4-Strut Jake

Decoy makes from Dave Smith look like they belong in a wildlife art museum and not the turkey woods, and that’s the idea. These are the most realistic, durable decoys I have ever used, and while Smith has expanded his lineup over the years, my number one boy bird go-to is still the original 3/4 Strut Jake. Yes, I’ve had success with the Sturtter Jake and the original Strutter, and I would like to give the Posturing Jake and Mating Jake a go, but for day-in-and-day-out success, give me the 3/4 Strut.

This 3-year-old Nebraska Rio couldn’t resist the DSD 3/4 Strut Jake. He beat him down, knocked him off his stake, and then stood on him. This gave us a great show, and it provided me with a perfect broadside shot, and you can see the Easton arrow about to drive into him.

Why? 

I’m an equal-opportunity turkey killer — age and spur size don’t mean much to me. When I get a tom close to the decoys, I want him to respond and come in. Often, a two-year-old tom will shy from a strutter-style decoy, especially later in the season, but this small-in-stature Jake crafted with a non-intimidating body posture, typically closes the deal on three- and four-year-old toms as well as two-year-old birds. 

His posture says he’s willing to hook up with a lady but isn’t looking for a fight, but in my experience, it’s typically a fight he gets. More times than I can count, my jake has taken a Bruce Lee beating, and over the years, I’ve harvested seven different toms with an arrow while they were standing on top of the decoy. A.C.E. Technology — armor for the decoy — allows it to take beating after beating and not chip or break, and because it doesn’t need to be inflated, it always holds to form. 

The DSD 3/4 Strut Jake comes with one Jake Turkey Stake, which allows for 360-degree movement, and one camo bag with a shoulder strap. $189.95

Ultimate Predator Gear MerRio Turkey Stalker Decoy

Thanks to this less-than-11-ounce bow-mounted decoy; I don’t spend nearly as many days in a ground blind as I once did. If you’re a run-and-gun style turkey hunter but don’t think you can do it with a stick-and-string, this decoy solves your problem.

Ultimate Predator Gear’s MerRio Turkey Decoy features an actual image of a full-strut tom on highly durable, U.V.-free, quick-drying, micro suede fabric. I have had my decoy for three years, and during that time, it’s been in the bottom of my pack, tossed in the back of my truck, smashed under other gear, and when duty calls, the decoy’s spring-loaded design always answers. 

The shoot-through window is genius, and after attaching the decoy to the top and bottom limb pockets of your bow with the included Velcro straps or custom straps (recommended) made by Ultimate Predator Gear, your sight and stabilizer fit nicely within the window, which means easy arrow clearance. The decoy attaches in seconds, and when you’re done with it and plan to walk back to the truck or go walk-about in search of another bird, the decoy collapses to an 11-inch diameter. With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to unfold, mount, remove, fold, and store your decoy in less than a minute. Even if you plan to hunt from a ground blind with 3-D-style decoys, this decoy needs to be in your pack, period. 

The beautiful thing when using this decoy is you are the decoy. You’re searching for the biggest, baddest tom in the woods and trying to get him to come to you. You can also set some hen decoys and make yourself part of the spread, which is fun. When it works, there is nothing else like it. I have had birds come on a dead run from over 200 yards away to as close as three yards. A few years back, I shot a Merriam bird running at full tilt, and when the Easton splashed through him and turned to run, he kicked dirt up on my leg. For you Eastern and Osceola hunters, UPG makes the Eastern Turkey Stalker, so be sure and give it a look. $84.95

When using UPG’s MerRio Turkey Stalker Decoy, you can make yourself part of the spread.

Avian-X LCD Laydown Hen

More than once, more than twice, actually, more times than I can remember, I’ve run a DSD 3/4 Strut Jake with an Avian-X LCD Laydown Hen. Guess what? This combo has killed me a pile of longbeards. 

I realize DSD makes a laydown-style hen, and she’s excellent. However, I promised you the truth, and the truth is what you shall receive. An approaching tom pays more attention to the boy bird in a decoy spread than the hens. For this reason, I will drop extra greenbacks on the best-looking male bird I can find, but when it comes to female birds, give me durability, realism, and a budget-friendly price tag. 

In this screen grab, you can see one Texas gobbler roughing up the 3/4 jake, and the other getting ready to try and breed the Avian-X Laydown Hen. Notice the space between the decoys.

Avian-X makes great turkey decoys, and the inflatable LCD Laydown Hen is as good as they get. Set your 3/4 Strut Jake over this decoy, but leave enough room for an approaching tom to walk between them, and you’ll drive real boy birds nuts. A hen in this position is ready to breed, and when you set a boy bird fake behind her, facing her, and set her looking away from him, things can get very intense, very quick. 

The LCD Laydown Hen is an inflatable decoy, which makes her a breeze to transport, and I’ve had mine for four years with zero issues. The good news is you’ll get this laydown lady for under $100, whereas the laydown (Mating Hen) from DSD will run you $150. 

A 3/4 strut jake over a laydown hen can be pure poison. After dumping the first tom, which kicked the crap out of the jake decoy, I let the second and third tom abuse the laydown for a bit.

Of course, there are piles of decoys on the market, but my goal with this article was to give you my three best — three that I want with me whether I’m hunting the swamp-living Osceola or the mountain-dwelling Merriam. They are proven fakes, and they work. However, please know that turkey decoys aren’t Harry Potter’s magic wand, and more than once, for one reason or another, I’ve had turkeys spook from decoys. Once, while hunting Georgia, I had a longbeard sprint over 200 yards in the opposite direction the second he saw my decoy setup. Decoys are tools — sometimes they help seal the deal, sometimes they don’t. For me, they add a sense of enjoyment to the hunt, and from March through May, it’s rare to find me in the woods without decoys. 

Lastly, please exercise caution when using decoys. Decoys look like the real thing, and things can get dangerous. I never use my Ultimate Predator Gear bow-mounted decoy on public land during shotgun season. I’m also cautious about using 3-D-style decoys in deep timber (you don’t need them then, anyway) on public-land tracts of turkey dirt. 

I wish you all a safe and successful spring! 

 

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