Choosing the Best Turkey Decoys for Successful Hunting With Art and Michelle Helin

Sure, you can kill a turkey with proper scouting and calling. But in some situations, decoys can increase your chance of bagging a tom. 

You never know how a turkey will react to a decoy. While some of them are eager to look for trouble, others are too shy to confront even a hen. 

In short, you need to use all your experience to draw a finicky longbeard within range with a decoy. But one thing is for sure. Once they sense it is a fake, they will run.

There are a ton of options for gobbler chasers when it comes to picking the best turkey decoys. In this article, we’ve taken the advice of expert turkey hunters Art and Michelle Helin to bring you some of their top choices and tips for hunting toms. 

Check out their latest episode: Decoys Make the Difference

1. Avian-X LCD Hen

Avian X decoys have always stood out in terms of their lifelike realism, and the LCD hen is no exception. Quite simply, the amount of detail in this decoy is fantastic, and out in the brush, it is easy to mistake it for a real turkey. Even the feathers mimic the reflection of natural turkeys. 

Out of the box, the decoy feels sturdy. This lady has a dura-rubber body and carrying it around in the included carry bag is no problem at all. Collapsible stakes make it even more compact. Avian X calls it the ”ultimate -temptation” for gobblers, and it is hard not to agree with that. I have seen turkeys moving up to this decoy among others set in the bush.

One thing is, that the bicycle tube-type valve for inflation is a bit short, which makes inflation somewhat difficult. That does not make it the best gobbler decoy for a quick setup. Also, it can lose air on a hot sunny day. 


This is a gorgeous-looking hen decoy with a rugged dura-rubber body. The exposed rump and the dropped wings perfectly mimic a hen receptive to breeding.

2. Primos Gobbstopper Hen and Jake

When it comes to quality, Primos turkey hunting decoys are a safe bet. This decoy has been designed based on the actual imagery of a Jake. It looks ultra-realistic and the body design is submissive. The Photoform design process prints the actual image on a fabric, without using any paint. In short, it is perfect for triggering stubborn longbeards who love to bully. 

The big advantage is, that this decoy needs no inflation and you can collapse it. That makes it light enough to carry around all through the day. It comes with a single stake which offers good stability. Plus, the durability is good enough to withstand rough use.

At the same time, it moves around a bit when the wind picks up adding to the realism. Also, I haven’t heard hunters complaining of any unnatural spins with this decoy.


The realistic and lightweight design makes the Gobstopper Jake a great addition to your turkey-hunting arsenal. It is easy to set up and light enough for hunters who prefer to move fast.

3. Montana Decoy Wiley Tom 3D

When I first learned of the Wiley Tom with a collapsible design and 3D realism, it seemed nothing out of the ordinary. 

But, once I had it in hand, I was impressed by the details. There is double-side printing on the body and you can detach it from the head. That way, you can use the head as a 2D decoy. Considering how it folds down to a small size, I appreciate the efforts of the Montana Decoy design team.

You can attach turkey feathers in individual slots which allows you to replace damaged feathers- a big plus. I like the way the feathers remain protected when you fold up the decoy. At just over 3 lbs. it is light enough to carry in your turkey vest without any discomfort. The two-pronged pole design is another thoughtful touch that provides extra stability to the model.


The Wiley Tom 3D has a phot-realistic design with life-like eyes that make it a great pick. Thanks to the super-portable two-piece design it is easy to pack and carry around.

4. RedHead Foam Turkey 3-Pack

RedHead foam turkey decoys are made of HD foam with good paint details on the feathers. It consists of a Jake, an upright hen, and one lookback hen. 

You can fold them up and easily fit them inside the backpack. Besides, they take shape pretty well and can withstand considerable abuse on the field. That said, a few long-term users pointed out that the colors dulled within 2-3 of use.

One problem with these foam turkey decoys is that folding them up can result in creases that are difficult to remove. While the two-piece stakes ensure secure anchoring, I wouldn’t suggest using them in gusty conditions as the movement can get erratic. But, at this price, this 3-pack offers excellent value and is a great option if you are just getting into turkey hunting.


The good painting and extra details on the feathers make this a realistic choice for turkey hunters. Besides, you can use the gobbler for a stationary setup or reaping.

5. Dave Smith Turkey Flock Decoys

This set contains four Dave Smith turkeys in one package. You get three hens and subordinate Jake, hand-painted and made from A.C.E. material. A.C.E is a material that offers better durability than standard plastic and retains shape better. 

All the decoys look great and the flawless finishing gives the birds a life-like appearance. Even the texture on the body is more realistic than the other options. I compared the Dave Smith decoys with Avian-X ones, and in terms of realism, it’s hard to pick one over the other. 

Now, this flock is an expensive option and can be overkill unless you prefer using multiple decoys. Actually, Dave Smith decoys are one of the pricier options available. Consider buying the single pieces if you are an infrequent hunter. On the plus side, this is one of the best combos you can pick on the market, and in some conditions, a multiple-bird flock looks more realistic than a lonely hen. 

Keep in mind, that they are on the heavier side with each hen weighing around 3 lbs. Moreover, these are not collapsible decoys. So if portability is your priority, look elsewhere.


Undoubtedly, this is one of the most stunningly realistic turkey decoy combos you can pick for a dominance response. The A.C.E. technology ensures good durability and the decoys hold paint even after years of use.

breeding turkey decoy

6. The Grind Bugging Hen Turkey Decoy

The bugging hen decoy from The Grind is made from EVA material with realistic anatomy. It has iridescent feather colors and the paint is heat-treated and textured to last long. Out of the box, the decoy feels tough and the package comes with heavy-duty stakes for anchoring. The posture imitates a relaxed hen trying to pick food from the ground which can work great with toms.

It is not the best of the lot in terms of realism, but good enough to draw the attention of the boss man from a distance. Even on windy days, the motion can be well controlled by adjusting the wing nut on the metal stakes.

The big plus of this bugging hen is it is super affordable. Since it is not collapsible and is on the heavier side, this hen turkey decoy is best used when hunting from a ground blind. 


The Grind Bugging Hen is a durable hen turkey decoy with excellent paintwork that lasts long. It comes with heavy-duty stakes, does not need inflation, and is super easy to set up.

7. Killer Gear JakeFan

The Jakefan decoy is an innovative option whether you are stationary or running and gunning. The umbrella design is large enough to hide two people. It folds tight like a typical umbrella, making walking through the woods easy. When a tom is lurking in the middle of an open field, the Jakefan is your best bet to get closer.

Folding and unfolding are smooth and you can pop it in and out to mimic an adolescent turkey. The durability of the material is good and at 2.2 lbs. It is on the lighter side. However, the length of 28.5 inches can make it difficult to pack. It comes with a carry bag, but the bag’s durability is not the best.

A painted 3D turkey head on the outside which makes it more realistic. There is a zipper at the top for putting the gun barrel out. Besides, you can also pick separate attachments for connecting devices like a Go Pro with this decoy. There is a ground stake that allows you to sit behind it. Interestingly, the stake rests inside the handle- a well-thought-out design. 


This unique umbrella-style system is super versatile and is great for fanning. Also, there is no chance of any other hunter mistaking it as a decoy which adds to the safety factor.

8. Higdon TruStrutter Motion Tom Turkey

This highly realistic full-strut decoy from Higdon comes with a ton of features. One great feature is a magnetic fan ring. The ring is super easy to use and allows you to connect your fan to replace the synthetic fan that comes with it. In terms of design, Higdon uses “ XHD Hyper Feathering” which makes the appearance life-like and the high-contrast paint lasts long. 

What I like is the fact that the decoy is small enough to carry around on a long hike. The handle at the bottom of the decoy is a nice touch. It makes carrying it a lot easier. More so, after I lost the carry bag after three hunts. On top of that, it uses the remote-controlled Tru-Motion system. Press the button and the decoy starts moving from side to side which looks realistic, especially when there is no wind.

This decoy is not cheap by any means, but you get a lot of practical features with it. In short, this is one of the top turkey decoys to attract those territorial toms.


The colors and the rich black flocking on the back of this turkey decoy make it highly visible. In addition, the Truemotion technology comes with a long-running lithium-ion battery and works great.

own the season

9. MOJO Outdoors Scoot’N Shoot Gunner

This is another turkey decoy that allows you to move toward the tom while concealing yourself behind it. The foldable artificial fan has a large frame and offers excellent coverage for close encounters. It also has a 3-D version of a turkey head that can be connected to the fan. You get a white and a red turkey head in the package. If you ask me, the concept is simple, effective, and brilliant! 

What stands out is the special mounting system that can be connected to a single-barrel shotgun. The see-through mesh window makes it perfect for aggressive hunting. With the fan and head supported on the gun, you can use both hands for shooting. Plus, there is a bi-pod leg for supporting the gun on the ground. 

Strictly speaking, this is not a typical gobbler decoy. But the system is lightweight and easy to carry around. Above all, using this is one of the most exciting ways of turkey hunting.


With an oversized fan and a built-in bipod, this portable system imitates a charging gobbler. It is a great option for any hunter who finds traditional decoys cumbersome, especially in nontraditional hunting locations.

10. Game Winner Turkey Flock

For those on a budget, this flock from Game Winner is a great option. It is perfect for use in the early season when the toms expect to see a flock. The pack consists of an upright jake and two hens made from EVA foam. The decoys can be folded into compact shapes and the flock is super lightweight. The combined weight is 1 lb. only.

Setting up the flock is super easy and the light weight makes it perfect for gunning and running. The paintwork and feather detailing are realistic, but not in the same category as the premium products. That said, the coloration on the jake decoy is excellent. However, it fades off with prolonged use.

Then again, the plastic ground stake has limited durability and you might want to reinforce it. I would not rate the Game Winner decoys high in terms of durability. But at this price point, there is not much to complain about. 


In terms of affordability, the Game Winner turkey flock is hard to beat. It is the perfect fast and easy turkey flock decoy for a last-minute setup. 

pre-breeding turkey decoys

Pre-Breeding Turkey Decoys

We got the scoop from Art and Michelle about how to set up your decoys throughout the season to match the bird’s natural behavior. 

At the end of the Pre-Breeding and during the Breeding phases, Art  likes to use a breeding hen decoy. 

He typically only brings 3 decoys for these seasons/phases. However, If he uses the Breeding Hen, he does not use other hen decoys. He will use a Standing Hen and a Feeding Hen together to make the Tom feel more comfortable and relaxed.

When turkey hunting with a bow, Art will angle the Jake decoy toward him since Turkeys will approach it face-to-face / chest-to-chest. He positions the hen facing away since the Tom will want to approach from behind her. Doing this will provide a better shot opportunity to the approaching Tom’s vitals.

When turkey hunting with a gun, Art will position the Jake decoy sideways and the hen facing towards him.

Art and Michelle typically place their decoys about 15 yards away.

Pre-Breeding/Breeding Decoy Setups:

  • Place 1/2 or 3/4 Strut Jake 2-4 feet away from the Breeding Hen.
  • Place 1/2 or 3/4 Strut Jake 2-4 feet away Standing Hen, then place the Feeding Hen 5-6 yards from those two.
  • Place 1/2 or 3/4 Strut Jake directly behind/on top of Breeding Hun (Breeding Phase Only)

During the Pre-Breeding phase it’s more about dominance, whereas during the Breeding phase, it’s more about jealousy. The Helin’s will only use a Full Strut decoy paired with a Breeding Hen decoy during the Breeding Phase. A Full Strut decoy can scare younger birds off.

How to Choose the Best Turkey Decoys: Buying Guide

While many hunters will not consider decoys among turkey hunting essentials, one thing is for sure. Decoys add a ton of fun to the thrill of the hunt. Buying the best turkey-hunting decoys is not so difficult, as long as you know how to match them with the hunting conditions.


You may wonder whether an expensive turkey decoy is worth it. Many hunters have enticed longbeards with cheap, old decoys. 

Others will swear that a high-dollar fake with ultra-realism and authentic body posture matters a lot. I have bagged turkeys with and without decoys and realized that there is no simple, definitive answer to this question.

It is important to choose well as you get what you pay for. If strong gusts make your decoy spin like a rotisserie chicken on its peg, the gobbler you are targeting will know that it is an imposter. And turkeys are wary birds. My suggestion is to spend the extra dollars and pick a decoy that is reliable and designed to last longer. 

Overall, decoy choice is also about personal preference. It is best to purchase a decoy that suits your budget and hunting style. But remember, even the best turkey decoys will not work unless you use them right.

Hunting Style

If you are hunting from a ground blind after roosting a turkey, you are already aware of its location. So, for early-season hunts setting up a submissive jake decoy with one or more hens is a good option. 

Make sure to position the ground blind between the bird and the decoys. For late-season hunts, a solo hen is a good choice. The toms will be more weary at this time and will prefer an easy companion.

When you are running and gunning, you need lightweight decoys that can be deployed easily. Hauling heavier decoys for the entire day is a real pain.

For these hunts, foldable, molded decoys with an easy fan attachment are good options. When I am hunting solo, a Jake and breeder hen combo is my favorite choice. When with a partner, you can carry more options.

For more aggressive hunting, handheld decoys with a gun rest work great. You hide behind the large fan and approach the gobbler as a challenging tom. While it lacks realism, the turkeys are too focused on the advancing fan and the head to observe the two human legs beneath it. If you are using it while on a thick brush, even better.

That said, hunters need to be flexible enough to change their plans based on the situation. If something is not working, shift to another plan without wasting time.

turkey decoy

Turkey Decoys Should Accommodate Your Hunting Setups

Remember, there are many pieces to the turkey hunting puzzle, and a decoy is just one of them. The purpose of a decoy is to take advantage of the instincts of a turkey and divert their attention away from the hunter. 

If you are all set in a pop-up blind and ready to use a call, you need a decoy to attract the bird. The source of the call should be visible, especially when the old tom is on open ground. While hunting in heavy foliage or hill country, you do not need a decoy at all.

As spring progresses gobblers concentrate more on breeding than fighting. There may be better options than using a decoy with an aggressive posture at this stage. In my experience, a non-threatening Jake decoy is the most versatile option that can work with most hunting setups. I have even used it during evening turkey hunting sessions in early spring with great results,

Now, many hunters make the mistake of setting the decoys at the edge of their shotgun range. Own The Season’s Art and Michelle Helin mention how 15 yards is a good distance for setting up decoys and keeping the birds within range.

Next, consider how many decoys you need to create a realistic setup. In the fall, one-to-one interaction between the birds decreases. So using more than one decoy is a better option. Make sure to spread them around to get a clear shot. In spring, the situation is reversed.

Decoys Should Look Realistic

There is no exact way to determine the degree of realism you need in a decoy. Note that you are dealing with a bird with outstanding vision and realism helps. If you are bowhunting a super realistic decoy with life-like eyes and an aggressive posture can help to bring the lone tom closer. 

Gun hunting is relatively easier and I mostly depend on calling. However, combining good calling with a realistic decoy can help you bag the turkey. At the start of the season, when the toms are ready to fight, an ultra-realistic Jake decoy is worth it.

Then again, the choice of realistic turkey decoys is related to your budget. The top-end decoys are priced higher. Beyond that, there is the aspect of safety. A realistic decoy can deceive the toms, as well as the hunters. So, judge the line of approach for other hunters to keep yourself out of their shooting line.

The Best Turkey Decoys: FAQs

Is it necessary to use turkey decoys for hunting?

Using a decoy depends on multiple factors including the conditions and your hunting style. In some situations, it is necessary to use a turkey decoy for the best results.

Do decoys actually scare turkeys?

I have seen a few birds getting spooked by decoys and at times they simply are not interested. But if you use the right decoys in the right position, it will attract most birds. For example, Art and Michelle Helin do not use a lone full strut Jake early season to prevent scaring young birds away. Instead, they combine it with a breeding hen decoy to induce jealousy in the birds.

How much do decoys cost?

The price depends on the quality and the number of decoys in the pack. Generally, turkey decoys can cost between $20 to $300, or more.

Can I use motion decoys for hunting?

Motion decoys add more realism and attract the attention of a gobbler. That way, the hunter is less likely to get noticed.

carbontv general cta

Final Thoughts

There you have it- the ten best turkey decoys to choose from. You can be successful without decoys, but they help to bring birds in. The maximum amount of decoys you need is 3. Turkey spreads are not like waterfowl spreads.

Positioning your decoys in the best possible way is as important as selecting the right one.

Preparing for the turkey season by adding the right decoy to your arsenal can make turkey hunting even more exciting and fruitful! 

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