Video: DSD Preening Hen — A New Take On ‘Confidence Decoys’ for Wild Turkeys

When it comes to so-called “confidence decoys” for wild turkeys, the only option is a feeding hen, right? Wrong.

Video: DSD Preening Hen — A New Take On ‘Confidence Decoys’ for Wild Turkeys

The DSD Preening Hen is a new take on “confidence decoys” for wild turkeys.

As an avid wild turkey bowhunter, I’m always looking for ways to lure a gobbler into pointblank shooting range. Lifelike decoys almost always play a critical role in my strategy, and while there are times when a big gobbler will sprint from a distance to kick the butt of a well-positioned jake or tom decoy, oftentimes a more subtle decoy setup works better.

For example, if a tom isn’t looking for a fight, he might drift into shooting range as he checks out a lone feeding hen decoy. I’ve also had success using a few hen decoys, such as two feeding hens and one upright hen.

A feeding hen decoy, such as this one from Dave Smith Decoys, can lure in a gobbler that isn’t aggressive enough to confront a jake or tom decoy.
A feeding hen decoy, such as this one from Dave Smith Decoys, can lure in a gobbler that isn’t aggressive enough to confront a jake or tom decoy.

Even if a gobbler isn’t fired up to breed, he needs to eat, so tricking him into thinking the clover is tastier in one corner of a green field can be accomplished with lifelike turkey decoys. Of course, the term “lifelike” is relative. For a shotgun hunter who can drop a bird at 40 yards, a turkey decoy needs to look good enough to fool a gobbler for a second or two, and it doesn’t really matter if the gobbler stops his approach 15 yards from a decoy, provided the hunter places the fake at about 20 yards.

Not so with bowhunting. My broadhead choice when targeting wild turkeys is a Magnus Bullhead (designed for head and neck shots), so I limit my shot distance to 10 yards. I typically place my decoys at 3 to 7 yards. If a gobbler is approaching my decoy offering and then hangs up at 40, 30 or even 15 yards, I’m out of luck. I need my decoys to pull a bird all the way into my lap.

When it comes to lifelike turkey decoys, nothing beats a taxidermy mount. That said, hauling and caring for a “stuffer” in the field is a headache. And if even a slight drizzle is a possibility, you’re best leaving it in the truck. The good news is several companies make lifelike turkey decoys that work well for bowhunters.

I’ve killed a number of birds when using Avian-X hens and jakes, as well as the Lil Gobbstopper hen and jake from Primos. I’ve also had success with offerings from Dakota Decoy Company. These companies offer a variety of turkey decoys, including feeding hens, but I recently learned about another “confidence decoy” — the DSD Preening Hen — that deserves your consideration.

As a company, Dave Smith Decoys (DSD) has a cultlike following among hunters, and its outstanding reputation is well-deserved. DSD made a name for itself with lifelike goose decoys unlike anything that had been built before, then it expanded its offering into the turkey market. DSD also produces what many diehard whitetail hunters consider to be the best buck decoy available, the DSD Posturing Buck.

DSD’s first turkey decoy offering was its Upright Hen, and since then it has expanded the lineup to include a handful of others such as the Mating Hen and Feeding Hen, and a variety of tom and jake decoys. As stated previously, a feeding hen is a great confidence decoy, and now the company is releasing its Preening Hen model.

As stated on DSD’s website: “We set out on designing the ultimate confidence decoy that would attract both hens and gobblers in a sculpture that has never been attempted before. Wild turkeys spend a lot of time taking care of their feathers, but will only let their guard down to do this when there is zero chance of danger. With her head buried into her feathers and covering her eyes, she sends the crystal clear message that everything is safe around her.”

As explained in the YouTube video below, the team at DSD noticed that when in a flock, hens will preen themselves at the same time. And interestingly, they observed that a hen almost always preens the same feather group as the hen next to them. For this reason, DSD says that the ultimate confidence spread is combining two or more Preening Hens (set at different angles) with a Feeding Hen.

P.S. to whitetail hunters: The video also provides a first look at DSD’s long-awaited doe decoy offering. The company brought a prototype to the 2023 National Wild Turkey Federation Convention. I’ll provide more info on this deer decoy as details become available. According to DSD Founder (and sculptor) Dave Smith, the doe will be released this fall.


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