By Jason Reid
New York -(Ammoland.com)- With a live hen to my left about 100 yards, the two gobblers flying over the moat 250 yards away had two choices, real or fake.
By the time the big gobbler committed to gun range, it took everything in my core as a hunter to stay composed, such was the vocalized showing of spring dominance he and his buddy displayed on a densely muggy, overcast Western NewYork morning.
The seemingly improbable had happened. Instead of rounding up the live hen, the gobblers made like frat boys chasing women, over to my turkey decoys!
Look, I’m a hunter just like you, and we all know the intimate frustrations of dealing with spring turkeys. When the plan goes the way we all envision it the rest of the year, you can’t help but be just a bit more thankful for the extra 20 plus pounds on your shoulder.
In the particular situation described above, I know without a shadow of a doubt, my decoys made the difference on the hunt. I was a dot on the edge of a sea of expansive corn fields running hundreds of yards by hundreds of yards. Decoys are a unique aspect of the hunt. A ritual in the predawn of each morning, they are hotly debated by hunters over tactics, brands, or even if you should bring one at all.
After several weeks of trouncing around the countryside testing the Snood Series decoys from Hunters Specialties, I have honest thoughts to share.
This is what every hunter asks about a decoy. How real does it look? Today's market and product design have decoys so realistic, they even fool seasoned hunters. Quality attention was put into designing the heads of the Snood series, even down to the wrinkles. I appreciate the fact they look like real turkey heads, not crude cut outs of a turkey head like on my no-name brand foam decoys from 1990 something. The second step in the realism process is the paint scheme. Over the course of several hunts, I came to love the difference in the colors painted into the heads between the Suzie Snood and Penny Snood.
The Penny Snood, the feeding decoy has the classic smoky blueish gray with a light hint of dull pink while the Suzie Snood, the sentry decoy, has much more vibrant blue and pinks painted into the lifelike hen head shape. The Jake Snood has some of the best details of the group as the blood veins are highlighted in red against the blue and white like a love hungry jake would be.
Hunters Specialties built the eyes into the plastic mold instead of using glass like other manufactures. While taking into consideration both sides of the plastic vs glass eye preference argument I will say, I worried less about what brush hit the decoys. Realize by building the eyes into the plastic mold, Hunters Specialties is able to keep that cost out of the operation while still providing a realistic high value decoy.
Stake & O Ring:
Ever had your decoy collapse and tip over during crunch time? I’ve had decoys stake fail on me several times and came to appreciate the stake and adjustment system in the Snood Family, the stake system with the rubber O ring I thoroughly enjoyed playing with. Adjusting the stake knowing it will stay stable and secure is comforting. Especially with the Suzie Snood, one can adjust the height of the O ring to give the decoy a high sentry position or a low submissive breeder position while being confident the stake system will not fail when it counts.
Full Mamma’s House:
The bodies of the decoys are full not narrow like older decoys. Add to the body a natural gleam like real birds they provide great eye catching profiles from long distance. Like many decoys, they are inflated by air, but Hunters Specialties turkey decoys have an air valve, like you see on a pool tube. Although a small feature, this quickly became one of my favorite aspects of the Snood series. Having been constantly frustrated over the years with a lack of a quality inflation system for decoys this air valve allows me to inflate quickly and made the decoy look natural quickly, but also to deflate the decoy when I run ridges along the border of New York and Pennsylvania.
I will comment the Jake Snood is a bit bulky to run ridges with. The best solution I found for transporting the Jake was by using an old green or a black duffle bag to carry it to different field corners in the agriculture I hunt near Lake Ontario.
Durability is what every hunter wants out of a decoy. From waterfowl to turkeys, nobody likes spending money on chincey decoys, they cost too much to replace every year. The rubber material that the Snood family is built with, I give a great value rating since it withstood the wear and tear of the season but still stayed flexible without creasing.
My only complaint is the paint material on the heads got torn up a bit when walking through thick brush. Not enough to a point where it would spook birds by any means, but caused me to make a mental note.
One of the reasons many hunters stick with their old decoys until they are hardly recognizable to turkeys is price.
- Suzie Snood: MSRP $74.99, Street $42.99
- Penny Snood: MSRP $79.99, Street $52.57
- Jake Snood: MSRP $92.99, Street $54.99
I’d label the Snood Series as a great value for all level of turkey hunters. Durable and dependable, they helped me take the best bird of my young life this year.