You will never kill a turkey who doesn't want to be killed. Decoys in my experience are good in very few situations.
1) On opening day.
2) Areas where they do not get a lot of pressure - and there are many states where this is actually true.
3) In an ambush - that is where there is a point or a corner around which you want a tom to stop for a second and have a look.
That's about it. A staionary decoy is a red flag to a mature tom - he will look at it, see it's not moving, and bolt. If your state allows moving decoys, that's a different story. A jerk line on a regular decoy is okay too, but requires you to move to pull the jerk cord - not good.
That said, any quality decoy with good head coloration will work. Jake tails attached to jake decoys seem to peeve off old toms sometimes - but not like the TV shows will have you believe.
Best approach is of course, find birds, but then take a few mornings before season opens and just go listen to the sounds the hens are making. It really varies a lot year to year, and throgh the course of the season. Practice duplicating what you hear, and go with that. I've had guys I call for look at me like I'm crazy for making the strangest call sequences - until the tom shows up. Just like for deer and ducks, it's all about scouting, but for turkeys you need to scout with your ears.
I've hunted turkeys for 30+ years & I say if it's legal in your state by all means use a decoy. When a long beard comes to your calls he is looking for a hen, when he arrives & doesn't see one he will be looking for you & will be very nervous. In my experience calling is overrated. You can call a gobbler with nearly anything......my wife called one in to the back deck last spring just by scooting a deck chair to make a sound, she would scrape the chair around & the old boy would answer & after a time there he was strutting out of the woods.
The decoy is much more important than whether you are a great caller or not.
Which decoy? I like the old solid ones but they are hard to find.....just about any good hen decoy will work, add a jake if you want, it helps sometimes. Only decoy that I don't like is the Pretty Boy Tom in full strut. I've talked to too many hunters who felt that it had actually scared a gobbler away, intimidation maybe?
Good Luck, it's getting closer to Turkey season every day!
I have been hunting spring turkeys over decoys for over 20 years. I also believe in calling and have killed close to 70 gobblers. I have had success in GA, PA and NY state.I must be very lucky or maybe there is something to the decoy and calling thing.
My decoys of choice for the past ten years have been Buckwing. They are available from Cabelas and are currently on sale. They are not very expensive but look good to a love sick gobbler. I use various numbers of decoys depending on what part of the season I am in.
Early spring I will use a Buckwing hen and a Buckwing jake. Later in the season I might add a Buckwing bobbin head hen in a feeding position. The bobbin head adds movenment when there is a slight breeze.
I bought a B-mobile gobbler last year and put a real tail on the decoy. It is very realistic looking. I plan on using it early this spring in PA and NY where there are mature birds in the area.
I have already made plans to hunt GA the first week in April. This will be two weeks later than I usually hunt this state. Last year, GA was a bust for me after hunting six solid days. The birds seemed to be a little more receptive two weeks into the season.
ks5shooter, my only caution about the use of decoys is that it certainly adds an element of risk of someone taking a pot shot at your set-up. It's happened twice to a friend of mine & he was on private land, & yes, it was a hen decoy! When I set a decoy I always leave a clear background from me so that if some "hunter" sneaks in & shoots at least the shot won't be directed toward me. Be careful out there, turkey hunting can be a dangerous sport.
I am not a pro so shoudln't be responding. I have only been turkey hunting for 2 seasons now. I do all my hunting on public land with a lot of hunting pressure. I have already taken several turkeys. I use a decoy whenever I can. I put out a jake and a hen. They are both the cheap soft foldable foam versions. I am too scared to put out a full bodied tom decoy on public land. That would be a good way to get shot. Even with a jake I am sure to put it out in front of me where it would be too long a shot for someone coming from the opposite side to make. I have killed three different toms racing to my jake by my hen to whip his butt. I call at least every 15 minutes and move when I have to to get closer to a far off gobbler. But the most important thing I have found out about turkey hunting after finding a good field that you know turkeys are using is patience. Patience kills turkeys. I like to use a blind too so I can stay in the woods for hours. Most of my turkeys came in from the sides or even behind. The blind covers your movement and allows you to sit comfortably in a chair for hours. One more weekend of quail season. Then I can't wait for turkey season. There is magic in the spring woods hearing a tom gobble. I have spent my whole life in the outdoors hunting, camping and fishing and never heard a gobble until I started hunting them. I just didn't know how to listen before.
Protect yourself from the ticks! Last spring I used a product from Cabelas called: Sawyer Duranon Permethrin Insect Repellent Clothing Treatment. It's a liquid that comes with a large plastic bag to put all your turkey hunting clothing in, pour in the liquid & let is soak in for a period of time. It is supposed to last for up to 6 weeks & withstand several washings.
I can't recommend it highly enough! I didn't use any other repellent & didn't have a single tick last season & I spent lots of hours in the woods. Great Stuff!
About 6 bucks a package.
Those ticks seem to be getting more plentiful every year & they can be bad news for your health!
Ticks are one more reason I prefer the blind. I use two blinds, one brown and one green. The brown one is also my duck blind and has a floor in it. I use it as long as I can. With a blind and a chair you are not sitting directly on the ground or against a tree. Then the only ticks I get are on the way in and out of the fields.