Friday, September 18, 2009
I try to preface any talk about using full-mount decoys with a disclaimer - I don't think you need full-mount decoys, or any decoys at all for that matter, to kill turkeys with regularity.
So why go to the trouble of mounting a turkey (or buying one) to use as a decoy? Because the interaction between a live turkey and a well-made full-mount gives the hunter a look into turkey behavior that he/she will likely never see otherwise. Full-mounts bring out the dominance behavior inherent in pecking order oriented turkeys - both male and females.
But it's more than that. Full-mounts fool turkeys so completely that turkey-decoy interactions last much longer than the average hunter has ever experienced. For a few years I used a plastic full-strut tom with a real tail fan. He was great at getting toms to come in, but if they touched him the gig was up. They quickly realized the plastic bird as unnatural, and would leave - often without presenting a good shot. Full-mounts don't only have tremendous drawing power, but the all-important holding power.
So why do full-mounts actually work? Well, the most obvious reason is that they look real. But there are a couple of less obvious reasons we should cover. Let's look at the obvious factor first.
No paint scheme on any plastic bird will ever out-mimic real feathers! And real feathers move when the wind blows, giving the bird further realism. Freeze-dried or cast heads (we use cast heads for their durability), when airbrushed correctly, are so realistic that the untrained eye can't tell live birds from decoys captured on video. Combine life-like heads with real capes and the combination is unbeatable.
So what else is involved? The first thing that comes to mind, and has already been briefly mentioned, is feel. When turkeys rub against full-mounts, which happens VERY frequently, they feel what seems to them to be a real turkey pushing back. This doesn't scare them, it encourages them. Our decoys are made in such a way that when they're placed in firm ground, they stay put. When toms peck at the heads of our tom decoys, or flog (wing-beat and spur) our deeks, the decoys hold fast. Think of it as a playground bully pushing on the nerdy kid. He expects the kid to run, and if he doesn't, he gets doubly mad! And when toms do the breeding preparatory chest rub over the back of our hen decoys, the fact that the she stands ready gives him the consent he's looking for.
Shape is also an important factor. Our decoys not only stand their ground, but are built in a way that encourages toms to mount them. Notice our tom decoys aren't full-struts, but tail down semi-strutters instead. Video footage proves time and again that male birds will mount, and attempt to breed, our male decoys. At first we thought this was a fluke. But now we see this behavior so often that we've given it the tongue-in-cheek name, prison whipping.
Finally, our decoys work because they aren't sex-specific. As you'd expect, wild toms are drawn to both hen and tom full-mount decoys. But arguably just as important, live hens rarely pass up a chance to check out a full-mount hen decoy. And when hens come in, they're often towing longbeards along behind them.
And I suppose there are a number of other reasons why full-mounts work so well that I haven't yet thought of. Combine those I've mentioned with those I haven't and one word keeps coming to mind - REALISM. Short of using a live turkey as a stool pigeon, you're probably never going to beat a good full-mount decoy.
Posted by Decoy Guy at 3:01 PM