Barry Dart: Custom Turkey Decoys

Dressed For Success by Barry Dart

January 15, 2018

Dressed For Success

By Barry Dart

It might be a bit early to start thinking about spring turkey hunting however if your province or state has a fall turkey hunting season, here’s a little tip to prepare you for next season. 

In my early turkey hunting years, I bought one of the better strutting tom turkey decoys and after adding a set of turkey tail feathers from one I’d harvested, the combination worked well to draw mature birds into my set up. Although I was consistently successful, I always looked for ways to increase my odds of success to harvest trophy size toms. 

That being said, my theory was that because turkeys have such great eye sight, if I dressed up my decoys even more, my success would increase as well, so using another harvested bird I removed the skin leaving the feathers on, cleaning the excess fat off the inside with a wire work wheel and cured it with Borax. All you need are the body feathers. I pulled the skin over the plastic decoy still exposing the head and it was complete. It was a game changer for hunting big toms. Real feathers were the key.  It might seem like a lot of work but give it a try. The feathers are free and it’s a great way to use them. An important note to add here is, to avoid “bugs” from chewing up your turkey skin over time just seal it in a bag and lay it flat in the freezer to store it for the next season.

I have since taken my theory one step further and have started making my own decoys using skins, tail feathers for tail fans and a taxidermy turkey mannequin to create a full size strutting Tom, complete with a hand carved and painted head. It might be a bit extreme however using the 2 decoys I’ve made; a jake and mature tom, I’m consistently harvesting trophy birds year after year.  I’ve even been successful at drawing toms away from hens to come and challenge “Cornelius and Ted” (Decoys)

Whether you just use feathers on your decoys or create an “extreme killer turkey decoy” like I did, dress those decoys up, you might be surprised at the results.

Remember “hunt smarter not harder”