Thankful Outdoors: Turkey season Part 1 – Decoys

Part one in a four-part series talking all things turkey hunting

OnFocus – Welcome to March; the first of the month marks the beginning of the meteorological spring. With that, my mind jumps to all the springtime outdoor activities that will kick in. Looking for horns and spring walleye run always make the list of activities. But what I end up doing for a good portion of the spring is chasing turkey.

This week’s article is part one of four on a spring turkey series that I will share with you over the next four weeks. Part one will be discussing turkey decoys. Decoys are one of the tools used to fool Mr.  Gobbler!

The options and kinds of decoys that are available to the modern-day turkey hunter have become amazing. The amazing part to them is how realistic they have become!

I want to share with you a tip that I call dressing up your decoy. Ever notice that when you dress up, you draw compliments about how you look. The same thing with a decoy; dress it up, and it will get more attention!

The decoy I have worked with is from Flambeau called the King Strut; it is the tom decoy I have used for years; it comes with a cloth fan and fake beard. You can purchase it as a strutting tom and hen combo for the cost of what one Avian tom decoy would cost. The hen decoy is okay looking in this combo. The head-on King Strut is very realistic, looking for the price point.

I remember the first decoys on the market being the foam silhouettes painted to resemble a hen. Those decoys had fooled many a tom and can still draw a longbeard in, given that Mr. Gobbler is in the right mood.

How do you dress them up? It’s a simple process that involves taking a few zip ties and attaching wings to the decoy’s side. I then replace the cloth fan with a real fan.

The features that I like about the King Strut are

  • Lightweight
  • Realistic paint job on the head
  • Easy to add real feathers

Why would I worry about weight? Often during the season, I will use a run and gun type of tactic; with this tactic, I need lightweight gear to ease being mobile.

In my first year of using this setup, I thought, how great is this; I have a tom decoy with a beard and a fan. It worked okay, but I was hoping for more response from the toms.  It didn’t take me long to realize though faking it isn’t going to work on high pressured public land birds. The next season, I added a real fan to the decoy. This little addition to the decoy increased the response I was getting from birds. I thought, why not maximize the decoy’s full use as I realized I could add wings to the decoy.

Now that I had a fully dressed-up decoy, I was now getting toms to come right up to this decoy and respond much more aggressively. Now I was getting responses to decoy, just like the videos where toms’ kick the stuffing right out of decoys.

I bought my real turkey fan on eBay for my setup and the wings I got from a bird that my boys had shot during a youth season. So you are not necessarily out of luck and think you have to wait to harvest a bird this season to dress your decoy for the next season. It can be done now if you put a little bit of research into your potential opportunities for the resources. Maybe your favorite taxidermy shop would be a great local resource to talk with about getting a fan, or at least wings would be more likely.

With my setup, I feel as confident as the guys who do use an actual full-body mount decoy, but at a fraction of the weight, I can break down my setup and stuff it into the safety orange bag, throw it onto my back and head out to chase gobblers.

With the season starting as early as April 17th for the Spring Youth Hunt, you will start preparing now.

Do you have any favorite methods, tips, or tricks that you use to dress up your decoys? If you do, please share by leaving a comment or picture of your dressed-up decoy; I would love to see how creative you are!

In closing, I hope you find a way to get into the outdoors, create your adventure and memories, but most importantly, find a way to “Celebrate the Experience.” Go check out for more content and share your “Celebrate the Experience” moment with us!

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Scott Hopperdietzel
Author: Scott Hopperdietzel

Scott Hopperdietzel is the creator of an outdoor blog named Thankful Outdoors. He shares his passion for the outdoors with readers. The focus of the blog is to “Celebrate the Experience” in his stories; you feel what the connection to the outdoors means to him. His goal is to inspire others to get into the outdoors and create their own experience. Along with writing, he is a father to three boys who are often part of the adventures along with the family Weimaraner, Boone. You can find his writings on the website or follow his social media platforms on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.