West Virginia Hunter Safety Course


Safe & Effective Use of Decoys

If an animal sees members of their own species, they will be drawn to that location thinking it is a good feeding spot or hiding spot. Decoys are used by hunters in order to lure game animals to their hunting spot. Many waterfowl and turkey hunters will swear by decoys, along with calls, to attract their intended game. If used properly, a decoy can be a very effective and safe way of hunting.

Waterfowl Hunting

Waterfowl decoy

Hunting waterfowl, such as geese and ducks, is usually done from a blind close to the water. Decoys should always be set up in the animal's natural habitat. Duck decoys in rough, choppy waters will have little effect since ducks are not typically found on those waters.

Set up decoys so that they look natural from afar. Decoys all facing in the same direction will look strange from the sky, and might alert the animals to stay away. Group decoys close to your blind or hunting spot, but set up a few further away as well. Do not leave decoys out when you are not hunting, as this will also tip off the animals and will reduce the effectiveness of the decoys.

Turkey Hunting

Turkey Decoy

As with waterfowl hunting, spreading turkey decoys in a natural pattern is very important. A squatted hen decoy along with a jake decoy will create the illusion of a mating scenario, which will very effectively attract a gobbler.

In either case, follow these safety rules when using decoys:

  • Always positively identify your target before taking a shot
  • Always mark your hunting area with blaze orange
  • Do not stray from the hunting spot in search of game. Call the game to you.
  • Communicate with other hunters in the area - set up your decoys in a manner that does not interfere with another person's hunt.