Afraid of turkey decoys because of pressure
So your birds are afraid of turkey decoys and you are wondering why. We can really narrow it down to one of 3 things. The first reason may have to do with pressure. Hunting pressure is a surefire way to make your turkeys spooky. Turkeys can grow accustomed to daily disturbances from children at a park, or bikers winging by every day. I can remember hunting a bow only zone in the Dakotas where there was a lot of hiking and biking activity. If you wear working birds and a bike or hiker approached, they simply drifted off and side hilled it so that they could no longer be seen. They never ran or flew, and were not afraid of turkey decoys, in fact we decoyed in quite a few birds and killed one nice tom on that trip. My point is human presence and hunting pressure are 2 different animals, and turkeys can tell the difference. Put a bunch of guys in camp sneaking through the woods, making strange hen calls and ambushing your toms, and it will not take long before they are afraid of turkey decoys.
Afraid of turkey decoys because they are ugly
The 2nd reason your birds may be afraid of turkey decoys is because your decoys are not very realistic. Realistic turkey decoys simply work better, and it’s just makes sense. A turkey lives and dies by its eyes, and if the turkey decoys dont look real to you, you simply can’t fool as many turkeys. Every year more and more people are making the leap into the world of realistic turkey decoys, and the results are always the same. More excitement afield, and more turkeys in close. It actually has created a legion of trophy turkey hunters who are passing 2 year old toms, waiting out the older birds with long spurs and big beards. I think they are a little koo koo, but it takes all kinds.
Afraid of turkey decoys because they are conditioned
I have had the pleasure of hunting turkeys all across North America, and can remember 2 distinct groups of birds that absolutely new what a ground blind was. One batch was in Florida, and you had to hunt them like you would hunt whitetails from aground blind. Brush it well or set it in advance. If you tried a same day set they simply would not commit because of the blind. It looked as though they were afraid of turkey decoys, but it was the blind they were shying away from. I never did kill a tom that trip and they were everywhere.
The 2nd bunch of birds were in Nebraska. These birds had been hunted hard by an outfitter for years, and they too new what a ground blind was. Were they afraid of turkey decoys? I wouldn’t know as they rarely got close enough to see them. I left early to find some greener patters.
Turkeys that know what a blind is have learned from repeat experiences that danger hides inside. Never jump from your blind when turkeys are close by as you will teach them what it is and they will avoid it. We had a banded hen killed on fall in Minnesota that was 17 years old. Teach her what a ground blind is when she is 3 and you have a terrible flock to try and kill for years to come on that piece of land. It’s another kind of pressure.
Young jakes are rarely afraid of turkey decoys, and unpressured mature toms are not either. Get the best looking decoys you can afford, and hunt those birds smart if you don’t want them acting like they are afraid of turkey decoys.