Deer hunting with a decoy can be an electrifying and explosive way to hunt because anything can happen. But similar to other deer hunting methods, decoying isn’t the mystical answer that is going to magically “poof” you into a successful monster buck assassin.
It is however, a very useful tactic that can undoubtedly give you a better opportunity at a trophy buck. Anyone can throw out a decoy, but following a few decoying tips can increase your odds even more – here are 11 tips you should know on using a deer decoy.
1. Which gender of decoy to use is totally up to you. It just depends on the time of year and what the bucks on your property are doing. During pre-rut, a small buck or doe decoy can work. During peak or post rut, when most bucks are already tagging along with a doe, a small buck decoy might entice him to run the other buck off. It’s unlikely though, that you’ll pull a buck off the real deal to come check out a doe decoy.
2. A buck will normally approach a buck decoy from the front and a doe decoy from the rear.
3. Face a buck decoy towards you. Normally a buck will come into another buck head to head. Place your decoy about 20-25 yards out, facing you, and it should result in a 10-15 yard shot on an interested buck.
4. Set your decoy upwind of you so when a cautious buck circles around downwind of the decoy, he’ll offer you a shot.
5. Always keep your decoy as scent free as possible. Carry it in the field using gloves and spray the surface down with field spray to eliminate any human scent.
6. Use a cover scent that makes sense. In addition to scent control, it may also be in your favor to use a cover scent. Depending on your decoy’s gender, put some buck or doe urine on the hind end just in case the buck comes in too close for a sniff.
7. Use common sense and be safe when carrying a decoy into the field. Wear hunter orange where permitted. Don’t carry the decoy above your head. It’s best to use a field bag, sack, or cart to haul your decoy. It’s safer to decoy deer during bow season rather than gun season.
8. Never assume a buck is going to approach your decoy like he is supposed to. Like mentioned, most of the time a buck will come in facing a buck decoy and a doe from the rear but if not, you need to be prepared. Position your decoy in an open enough space that even if the buck approaches the decoy in an unexpected fashion, you can still get a clean shot.
9. A decoy works as a visual aid so be sure to place it where it can be seen. For a call shy buck, a decoy might give you the advantage you need IF he can see it. Be sure to place the deer decoy in a passing buck’s line of site. A lane, a ridge or hilltop, an open woodlot, or in a clear field would be ideal.
10. If you’ve used a decoy in the past, you probably know how much does can’t stand them. Some hunters believe a moving tail or an electronic decoy can calm a doe down enough that they will tolerate it. Be sure to check the laws in your area for using electronic decoys for deer hunting.
11. When placing your decoy, remember that a deer scans his surroundings at about 3 feet above the ground. A little bit of brush or tall grass can block his view of the decoy. Like the previous decoy tip, using a decoy with a moving tail can cause the buck to see movement and then lock in on your decoy. If an electronic decoy or moving tail are not allowed, try using a white sock and some fishing line – it may surprise you how well it works.
There are plenty of options when it comes to decoys. The 3-D type requires more work but they offer the most realism. I like Delta, Carry-Lite, Flambeau, and the Mojo Buck. Primos also make a 3-D model called the Scarface buck. The head and tail move with the slightest breeze.
Decoying for bucks isn’t a fail-proof method of become an instant deer hunting success, but it’s certainly worth considering as a technique to add to your bag of tricks. It’s an exciting way to hunt, fairly inexpensive, and it’s reasonably easy to do – give it a try this hunting season.
Thanks for reading and happy decoying!