Turkey hunters and waterfowlers have long used decoys as standard equipment, so why haven’t deer hunters followed their lead? Perhaps it’s because deer are just so much bigger and it hasn’t been practical to carry a deer replica into the woods.
With all the new materials being developed today, though, deer hunters have plenty of practical choices when it comes to deer decoys – everything from paper cutouts to collapsible 3-D animals.
The bottom line is that using deer decoys works. And it’s a ton of fun. Anything that pulls a deer’s attention away from you is a good thing, and decoys do that and more.
Like any hunting technique, there is a learning curve. Also be prepared for some deer to freak out and run away.
Our biologist Bob Humphrey recommends using a buck decoy rather than a doe. A buck-and-doe combination is even better, but he likes with a buck decoy when it isn’t practical to carry or set up two decoys.
A few starter tips to consider include:
• Don’t set up too close to the decoy. Bucks will usually approach other bucks head-on, so orient the decoy in such a way that a curious buck will come within range and present a broadside or quartering-away shot.
• Keep your decoy scent-free. Try not to touch it with your bare hands, and always spray it liberally with a scent eliminator.
• Call now and then to add an audio element to your setup. Match calling to the time of year/rut phase.
• Try a scent attractant (buck or doe pee), but don’t put it directly on the decoy.
Read Recent Tip of the Week:
• Don’t Call Like a Celebrity: Many hunters look on still-hunting – the art of slowly creeping through the woods hoping to sneak up on a big buck – as something to do when deer sightings are slow and patience runs out.