White-tailed deer are social as well as territorial animals. A popular tool in the hunt for trophy whitetails has become the deer decoy. Do they really work? The answer is yes on occasion but they may also create a problem situation.
Sitting in a treestand overlooking a flood plot with a buck decoy standing guard is a perfect scenario. That is until out of nowhere a rutty buck springs into action. From out of the brush he charges the decoy. His antlers lowered, he smashes into the foam decoy scattering pieces in an explosion. The incident takes only minutes and the surprised deer is gone back into the concealment of the brush.
Arguably the decoy worked but not in the way the hunter planed. Planning in the placement of a decoy is still an effective tool.
Decoys that are a part of the environment and have a natural look to them certainly fool deer. The more techniques one uses in placement and blending of a decoy the better the chance it will fool a deer.
Perhaps the best time to use a decoy is during the rut. During the rut, deer are very territorial. Bucks constantly make and check their scrapes. Near a scrape is a great place to place a decoy. Be sure to place the decoy so that it is not looking at your stand. Any deer approaching will look in the direction that the “stranger” decoy is looking. You can use the decoy to divert the attention of the other deer away from a stand. It is important for the hunter to pick camo that blends into the background, not the foreground. The idea is to keep the deer focused on the decoy, not the hunter.
Placement of a decoy can maneuver the deer into a position for a shot. One can use a blowdown or other structure to move the deer as he tries to get a good look at the decoy.
A bedded doe decoy is good for this type of action. Bedded doe decoys have a calming effect on an approaching buck.
Another set up is to place a buck and doe decoy together on the edge of a corn stubble field or grass field. By placing them at the edge of the field it is possible to pull in a deer that is entering an open area. With the buck standing and the doe bedded it presents the appearance of a buck trying to get a doe to stand. During the rut, bucks breed does as long as they will stand. A dominant buck will attempt to run off the buck decoy so as to be able to take over the doe.
It is important that the decoy buck have a small rack so as not to intimidate any arriving buck.
Although decoying is basically a visual situation, scents and calls are sometimes used. It is not essential to use scents or calls. Some hunters just like to cover all the bases. If using a scent the best one is from the tarsal gland or a mild buck scent. It is important to wear rubber gloves when handling the decoy so as not to leave a human scent on the decoy.
Human scent is scary to a deer. Some hunters leave their decoy out in the elements just to reduce the chance of human scent on it.
In using a call, again the best plan is to use it as little as possible so as not to scare off an approaching buck. When a big buck comes to a call, it is expecting to see another deer. If it does not, then he becomes suspicious. The best plan is to use a doe bleat interspersed with a buck grunt. If you get a response from another deer, quit calling immediately. You don’t want to distract the deer from the decoy.
Decoying deer is another tool, not an end all, for the deer hunter. With a little common sense the results it brings is a pleasant surprise.
Article Written By; Don Gasaway
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