Turkey decoy will talk through posture
If you had to list the tools of communication a human male uses compared to a turkey, it would be close to 95% spoken or written, and 5% body language. A spring tom or jake turkey is the opposite. 95% of what they say is through body language. Every feather helps tell the story of the turkey mood, and there’s a reason turkey have no feathers on their head. Those skin colors indicate dominance, fear, aggression and subordination. Even that little dew snood on top of the turkey beaks offers clues to their demeanor.
Male turkeys are an open book, and they are an easy to read once you know what you are looking at. Lets run down the parts of their bodies a male turkey uses to tell every other bird what’s going through that pea sized brain of his, and how that effects your turkey decoy design.
Turkey Dew Snood on your turkey decoy
A relaxed or dangling snood is a sign of confidence. There is not a drop of fear in turkey’s birds body. He is digging the scene and going nowhere fast. Sit tight and watch the show unfold. Let the turkey dance. If your turkey decoy sports a hanging snood, he will scare lesser toms and jakes off. Make sure your turkey decoy has an upright and tight snood.
Turkey Decoy Head Angle
When a male turkey approaches your set with his head tilted up in the air, it’s an attempt to make him look taller and bigger. It’s a bluff, and the turkey may close the distance and assault your decoys, or he may turn tail and run out of fear. Watch the head colors and wing position to see if the turkey is staying to fight, or running to avoid confrontation. The slightly upward tilted head bluff is one of the poses we worked into our decoy that drives a mature bird to fight. Most (not all) mature toms will call this bluff.
Turkey Decoy Head Colors
The most dominant turkey in the group will sport an almost completely white head, neck and caruncles. Your jake turkey decoy should not.
While rare to see, it lets you pick out the dominant turkey, who coincidentally is not always the heaviest or biggest spurred. He the best fighter in the bunch hands down. If your toms head is red, he’s probably not staying long. A spooked, frightened or submissive tom or jake will have a completely red head, and odds are they wont be at the turkey decoys long, if they even get that far.
If you want to take turkey home, take the first good shot. Most of the bow killed turkey you encounter will have red caruncles or bases, with a white cap and shades of blue or purple around the eyes, ears and beak. These turkey are neither super confident nor frightened or nervous. Read the rest of their body signals to see if they are staying or leaving. Read the language to see how long they will be in your turkey decoy set up.
Amount of head skin exposed
If your toms and jakes come by with their feathers pulled all the way up to their ears, they have no interest in breeding. They are in survival mode, are cold and irritated, as are you for venturing out on such a piss poor day trying to fill a tag. Go home and wait for the 3rd nice day of weather and hunt them when they are cooperating, then set out your jake turkey decoy.
Turkey Decoy Head position
The position of your toms head in relation to his body says a lot. A head held high and constantly scanning the scene is a bad deal. The turkey is scanning for danger and feels something is not right. Take the first good shot if it presents itself.
The opposite end of the spectrum is a head pushed so far into his back feathers, he can hardly see 90 degrees.
He is feeling the day and thinks he owns it. Enjoy the show. Let the turkey do his thing. These turkey only come along every so often for most of us and will sometimes stick around for an hour or more. Soak it up before you let that arrow fly or squeeze the trigger.
The norm is somewhere in between, and the more he stands up and looks, the lower your odds of a kill. Keep doing whatever keeps the turkey in strut, and for gods sake quit doing that call that makes him stand up and scan the scene.
Be sure your jake turkey decoy is not in an upright, on alert, position.
One of our favorite scenes is the belly feathers of an adult turkey locked out so hard they shake like jello when he walks or runs. This turkey is on a mission and will not stop until he smacks your decoy. Let him bump your jake turkey decoy before you even think of taking the shot. You will be glad you waited.
Lower Back Feathers
The lower back feathers rising and falling are not the tell all, but you are in the game. Your bird is not sure what to do so you have to do it all right. Pray he is not afraid of your jake turkey decoy, or that the neighbor didn’t try shooting him yesterday. Odds are not in your favor until you get the upper back feathers to dance, but you have a chance if you play everything right.
Upper Back Feathers
When the upper back feathers get to rising your in a good place. This bird is feeling better and better and you have him on the bubble. The days is yours to make or break. With the right jake turkey decoy set and some sweet calling, he will commit. May be 1 minute, may be 45, but he will come if you play it right.
The full fan is the loudest of all body language, and what you want to pay attention to its direction. Watch where he points the fan. He will tilt and point the front of his fan at whoever he is trying to impress, and you want that to be you and your turkey decoy. If you cut and he points his fan towards you, keep cutting, if you purr and he does it keep purring. Remember most days you can only be a part of the day. If he’s stuck on a certain hen, you may have to let him go for now. Maybe he will be back in an hour, maybe a day, but you can only control so much. He’s a wild animal, and that’s why we call it hunting.
The higher the wings on your birds back, the more likely he is to walk. Watch closely for that wing flip where he throws his wing on top of his back. It’s time to shoot. He aint getting no closer.
Sometimes your calling will get a bird so excited his feet will start bouncing up and down like he is dancing a jig. Back off. He’s about to blow his wad out there by himself, and if he’s anything like me, he won’t need the company of a lady for several more hours-
A turkey communicates through his feathers and skin. Knowing how to read what he is saying allowed us to capture those key points, and produce a decoy that says physically all the words a mature tom does not want to hear. Best of luck this spring, and we hope our jake turkey decoy helps make it the best ever!