Your decoys should breed either familiarity or contempt with visiting hens, and if they don’t, it’s a clear indication you need to consider upgrading. Homick is a firm believer in buying top-of-the-line decoys and keeping them in peak condition, right down to repainting the eyes before opening day.
Typically, hens will react in one of two ways to effective decoys. They may come in with what Homick calls a territorial boss hen attitude that says, “I don’t know you, so you don’t belong here.” They’ll often peck at the decoy heads, make bluff charges or approach from behind, almost mimicking a strutting tom. They’ll even rake a decoy with their feet like a long beard putting the spurs to a jake. Says Homick: “Decoys can definitely make them more aggressive.”
Alternatively, hens may display a much more sociable approach, feeding or sitting down and making themselves at home in the midst of your set, finding strength and comfort in the additional numbers. “They just come in and become part of the flock,” Homick says.
Either way, these reactions show that your decoys are effective, and that they’re therefore likely to also fool an incoming tom. So again, quality, lifelike decoys are key. I can tell you from personal experience that it’s one thing to have a hen shy away from an inferior model of decoy, and totally another for a tom to do so, whether it’s day one of the season or the last. “In a lot of scenarios, your decoys can be the difference,” Homick says.