OUTDOORS: Mississippi Decoys pops up on turkey hunting market

The trick to turkey hunting is what the hunters colloquially call “tomfoolery.” The ploy is for the hunter to sit still in a totally camouflaged manner making hen calls to fool a gobbler into thinking this is a hen. If the calling is seductive enough and the gobbler a little over zealous in his love life, then he may well stroll in for a closer look-see. This is what we turkey hunters refer to as a “fatal attraction.”

Advancing the game

In the advanced tactical strategies of turkey hunting brought the advent of using fake turkey decoys to attract lonesome gobblers into gun range. At first the game was to stick up a couple hen decoys to give the impression to woods-wandering tom gobblers that the “red light district” was open for business. Hen decoys have fooled many a tom.

As time progressed the use of hen decoys was refined and the decoy products greatly improved. Realism was paramount. Some of the early decoys were pretty pitiful and not very realistic. Today this has been much enhanced.

Next on the tomfoolery agenda came the use of gobbler and jake (young tom) decoys to supplement the hen layout. In both theory and practice the observation of a “gobbler” in the territory was highly insulting to the real thing.

Hence, this sighting by the real gobbler often induced a fast approach to the decoy to defend the stomping grounds and the honor of the “hens” on display as well. Thus again producing an opportunity for the hunter to score after what can often only be described as a wild few moments of turkey hunting experience.

Along with the enhanced realism of hen decoys came the development of truly lifelike gobbler decoys. However, the downside of many of these turkey hunting products was portability and display issues. Either they were molded from rather hard plastics and therefore heavy and cumbersome to carry to the field, or they were quite flimsy often blowing over in the wind or easily torn up.

Enter the Mississippi Decoys Inc.

“For the past 30 years, I have spent every morning during the Mississippi spring turkey season chasing the elusive wild turkey. My dad often joined me and always asked me to bring along a decoy. I didn’t mind but those things were heavy and noisy, not easy to set up quickly or move around on the go. I got to thinking I needed a better decoy, but I was going to have to figure it out myself,” says Charlie Thomas III of Mississippi Decoys Incorporated of Starkville.

“After seven months of research and development, Mississippi Decoys Incorporated was started and we introduced the “Big Daddy” strutting gobbler and the “Double Trouble” hen. I am convinced I have created the perfect decoy! It’s easy to transport, fast to set up and real enough to draw the big gobblers in.”

What makes the turkey decoys by Mississippi Decoys so unique? They actually function like an umbrella. The idea came to Charlie Thomas one day after a turkey hunt out in the garage. He spotted an old umbrella and the idea popped into his head. Eventually this concept led him to using realistic photos for the umbrella cover material. The gobbler decoy even has a molded gobbler head secured on the tip of the umbrella that gives the decoy a very real looking 3-D effect.

As designed the decoys fold up like a conventional fold-down umbrella and only weight about a pound each. One can quickly see that toting two of these to the woods, a hen and a gobbler would be little trouble. The decoy set up is secured with an offset shaft angling 90-degrees that you push into the ground. Set up takes mere seconds and sometimes that is all you have when it comes to turkey hunting.

Thomas says the retail selling price for the decoys has been set at $43 for the gobbler decoy and $32 for the hen model. If you buy them together in a set they named the “Killer Combo” the price is $60. That is an extremely attractive price point for a turkey hunting decoy. These can be bought on line, too at www.mississippidecoys.com.

What is the old adage “necessity is the mother of invention?” Charlie Thomas III sure hit pay dirt on this one with his Mississippi Decoys umbrella turkey decoys. As if that weren’t enough, they are already working on similar decoys for antelope, deer, dove, and duck hunting. I feel certain this is not the last we’re heard of this outfit.

>> John J. Woods, Ph.D., is vice president in charge of economic development and training, Eagle Ridge Conference and Training Center, the Workforce Development Center and contract training services at Hinds Community College in Raymond.

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