There tend to be two schools of thought about hunting decoys, one side firmly entrenched in the belief they’re a must-have and the other that finds them pointless. Reality is somewhere in the middle. Decoys can be extremely useful but do depend on a number of factors such as the game or predator you’re after, the season, and the quality of said decoy. All that said, if you’re in the market for a high-quality turkey decoy there is one I’ve had repeated success with: the Flambeau King Strutter.
Flambeau has an entire line of turkey decoys from standing and feeding hens to toms and jakes, many of which have found their way into my collection. The King Strutter is a favorite due to its realistic appearance – that and the fact it has a separate fan insert. Created based on a design made by Master Carver Dave Constantine, it’s a fantastic decoy to lure in dominant toms. Flambeau describes it as “only missing a heartbeat” and while that might be taking things a little far it’s definitely well done.
Features of the King Strutter include beautifully executed shades of color to mimic feathers in the molded form and a realistically detailed and shaped head. The tom’s beard is made of individual synthetic strands and securely attached so it’s able to shift and move like a living turkey’s beard would. The fantail has good definition and has a wind-secure attachment point. There’s also a keyhole stake plate made to be placed for either sixty-degree wind-activated motion or fixed, solid placement.
Using the Flambeau King Strutter on hunts has proved its effectiveness. Really, is there any cooler sight than watching – and hearing – a tom come strutting and drumming right to you?
During one spring turkey hunt, we experienced high winds which caused the decoy to move more than normal. Dust was flying, the blind was rattling, and it seemed there was not a chance of success. Right about when it seemed a good time to call it a day, a tom came strutting in straight to the decoy. On that particular hunt, I was running the Remington DM Predator, a 12-gauge shotgun with a Kryptek finish, and I didn’t hesitate to shoot the tom. It was an easy shot; as the tom made his way in he passed within ten yards of my blind. The DM Predator dropped him on the spot and my friend and guide Tyler Pounds ran out to get him (I stayed put and tried to hold the blind down – it really was that windy).
Out by the tom, Tyler was bent over checking out his beard. When he held up two fingers I was happy – a double-bearded tom was a great bird for the dry Texas wheat field – then he held up three. Then, four. As it turned out the Rio was a quad-bearded tom, making him my favorite turkey in years. All I’m saying is the decoy was present. Draw your own conclusions.
If you’re going to use a decoy take care to consider placement. You can use one like the Flambeau King Strutter with the company’s Shady Baby Breeding Hen decoy or place the tom on its own. I’ve done that myself with solid results (a nice mature tom). The King Strutter is a dominant decoy meaning it can draw in toms or cocky jakes looking for a fight. When using more intimidating decoys it’s possible you’ll make submissive birds less likely to come in, so keep that in mind. But if you think about it you might realize the turkeys you really want to shoot are those big, tough, challenging toms.
When staging decoys take care to place them as realistically as possible. If you’re baiting take the food into consideration; if you’re just trying to create a believable scene in a field, make sure you put the various birds in the right spots. You want decoys to bring birds in firing range without blocking your shot. No, you cannot control precisely where a bird will walk but you can increase your odds by stopping to think where they are most likely to go.
If you haven’t tried decoys for turkeys, check out Flambeau’s line. They’re good quality, well-made decoys that will work nicely to improve your chances of a successful hunt. The King Strutter has been present at the scene of half a dozen turkey hunts where turkeys were had in various quantities so I consider it a useful part of my gear. After all, isn’t a flopping bird on the ground your goal? Try decoys. You’ll be glad you did.