The Field Fakeout

A multidecoy setup to fool birds in the open.

Field & Stream Online Editors

Gobblers in fields are difficult to hunt, because the open terrain allows them to make the most of their excellent vision. A hen decoy is a must in this situation to divert attention away from you. Trouble is, a gobbler's natural reaction to seeing a hen is to try to lure her closer by gobbling and strutting in one spot. Adding a jake decoy to your setup can help get that bird to close the distance, but the surest way to do that is to put out a whole flock of fakes. Here's how to set the scene:

The Dekes
You'll need five decoys: one hen with its head upright, three hens with their heads in feeding positions, and one jake. The latter should have drab colors and a nonaggressive posture. This type won't intimidate leery adult toms and will seem an easy mark for combative ones.

Together, these five decoys deliver more firepower-in terms of sexual attraction, jealousy, and confidence-than any single- or double-decoy setup could possibly achieve. And it's often enough to bring even the most stubborn field gobblers running.

The Setup
Choose an area of about 12 square feet within gun or bow range and off to one side of your blind or hide, as opposed to right in front of it. You want all the attention on the decoys, not on you.

Start with the upright hen. As the looker, or sentry, she provides a sense of security and is also likely to be viewed as the dominant breeder. This makes her very attractive to any gobblers, so be sure this deke is highly visible, up on a small knoll or hump if possible. The three remaining hens have their heads down in a feeding position. These are your confidence decoys, as well as potential breeders. Arrange them around the first hen.

Finally, place the jake five or six steps off to one side of the hens, which relays an I'm with them, but I'm not with them message. Its exact position is important. Approaching gobblers will typically confront the jake first, face-to-face, intending to wing-beat and spur the competition into submission before moving on to the ladies.

Knowing this, set the jake where you want to make your shot. For archers, this should be at 10 to 15 yards; for shotgunners, about 20. All that remains is to let nature and your shotgun's payload take their course.