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How to Use Deer Decoys
 

Deer Decoy Secrets of Pro Hunters
Why Use Deer Decoys
Editor’s Note: In the last couple of years, deer decoys, in states where allowed, have proved themselves as very-effective deer-hunting aids, especially on the edges of agricultural fields, green fields and pastures. However, a large number of deer hunters resist carrying any more stuff into the woods than what they’ve already got, particularly with the weight involved with 3-D decoys. Let’s listen to some hunters who successfully have used deer decoys and learn why they don’t hunt deer without their deer decoys.
Using the Correct Sex Deer Decoy for Your Area:
Professional hunter Alex Rutledge of Birchtree, Missouri, remembers a hunt for a really-big deer in Kansas when using the right sex of deer decoy helped him take a 170-class 8-point monster buck. “Every time I saw the buck I named Magic, because he would disappear and then show-up in places and times when I least expected to see him, I got even more excited about this trophy buck. I’d hunted this fine buck the previous season but had been unsuccessful in seeing him, although a 160-class 8 pointer in the same area came in and knocked over my decoy with his antlers that year but left without giving me a shot. So, the next year, I returned to the same farm, once more taking a decoy with me and setting the doe decoy up on the edge of a field. I also took buck antlers with me. After the doe decoy spooked several does, which then spooked bucks, I decided to come out of my tree stand and put antlers on my decoy. I also used my Hunter’s Specialties’ Primetime Rattling Bag and began to rattle.
“From out of nowhere, Magic appeared and headed right toward my decoy, walking stiff-legged like he was mad. Magic stuck his nose up to the rear of my decoy and took a big sniff of that PRIMETIME Premium Doe Estrus Plus I’d poured on the ground behind the decoy. I turned my body, got my bow back to a full draw, anchored my shot, aimed with my 20-yard pin somewhat higher than where I wanted the arrow to hit and released the arrow, which hit Magic behind his front shoulder. Magic whirled and then dropped his tail before stopping and falling over. That buck decoy certainly worked for me.”
Hunting Lockdown Bucks:
One of the creators of Hunter’s Specialties’ EZ Wheeze call, Brandon Danker of Chandler, Oklahoma, took a buck during the 2005 season that scored 155 on Boone & Crockett with the EZ Wheeze, a buck decoy and his bow. “I spotted a buck with a doe, and that buck was in what I call lockdown,” Danker explains. “I believe this buck had already bred this doe once and was staying with her to possibly breed her again. I knew from experience that a buck in lockdown with a doe often would move that doe away from the sounds of rattling or grunting. So, I decided not to grunt or rattle to this buck and thought I’d wait him out and hope that he’d walk within range. I took out my EZ Wheeze call and blew two shorts and one long. Although the buck didn’t come straight to me, I did pull him within 35 yards to make the shot with my bow.

“I like to use the EZ Wheeze when the buck’s within 100 yards, and I need to pull him within bow range. The EZ Wheeze can be very deadly when used with a decoy. I’ve learned that when the buck sees the decoy and hears the snort/wheeze, the buck will respond by coming in bristled-up with his ears pinned back in an aggressive posture. Then you can get the shot. I’ve proved over and over again that the combination of making the snort/wheeze and the buck’s seeing a decoy sets up in his mind that he’s about to lose to another fellow the doe he’s already bred and hoping to breed again. When he abandons his caution is when I get my shot.”
Deer Decoy Secrets of Pro Hunters
Various Ways to Use Deer Decoys
Editor’s Note: In the last couple of years, deer decoys, in states where allowed, have proved themselves as very-effective deer-hunting aids, especially on the edges of agricultural fields, green fields and pastures. However, a large number of deer hunters resist carrying any more stuff into the woods than what they’ve already got, particularly with the weight involved with 3-D decoys. Let’s listen to some hunters who successfully have used deer decoys and learn why they don’t hunt deer without their deer decoys.
Utilizing Only Buck Decoys with No Deer Lure:
A professional hunter who makes videos and speaks at deer-hunting seminars, Pat Reeve of Plainview, Minnesota, uses deer decoys in certain instances but only buck decoys. “I like a buck decoy when I’m hunting open areas or places where I know there’s a big buck but can’t get him to walk through a funnel,” Reeve reports. “I like to put my buck decoy in front of me so that a buck will come to it, circle downwind of it and present a shot within my bow or gun range. I’ve noticed that most of the time when the decoy is working well the bucks will be in-between me and my decoy. Then I’ve got the buck broadside to take the shot with my bow. I don’t want to put the decoy so close to me that when the buck tries to circle downwind and smell the decoy the buck’s behind me and my tree stand.
“I keep my decoy as scent-free as possible. When a buck comes in and starts circling the decoy, I want him to be curious to know why he can’t smell what he’s seeing, which is what I’ve noticed bucks doing before. Then they’re puzzled. I’ve found a buck will move closer to a buck decoy when he can’t smell it than he will when he smells lure on a decoy. As the buck gets in close like this, I can usually take the shot and have had great success with this tactic.”
Learning the Value of Decoys:
Mike Rex of Athens, Ohio, hunts across the United States and has taken a buck that scored more than 200 points B&C. “Several years ago, I tried deer decoys without having any positive outcomes,” Rex explains. “I was primarily using doe decoys at that time. However, when I put over-sized antlers on the decoy, the outcomes completely changed my opinion of the value of deer decoys. I’ve learned that for my style of hunting using large antlers on a small buck decoy is very effective for bagging big bucks with my bow. Changing to using a buck decoy has made a big difference in my bow-hunting tactics, just like the compound bow did to the entire sport of archery hunting.
“I believe that perhaps large antlers on a small-buck decoy invoke a threat to all the other bucks in the area. Maybe they think they’ve got to come to that decoy and see what it is. I absolutely believe that using a decoy like I’ve described can have a positive effect on taking big bucks
Deer Decoy Secrets of Pro Hunters
Preparing a Deer Decoy
Editor’s Note: In the last couple of years, deer decoys, in states where allowed, have proved themselves as very-effective deer-hunting aids, especially on the edges of agricultural fields, green fields and pastures. However, a large number of deer hunters resist carrying any more stuff into the woods than what they’ve already got, particularly with the weight involved with 3-D decoys. Let’s listen to some hunters who successfully have used deer decoys and learn why they don’t hunt deer without their deer decoys.
Longtime, avid deer hunter Matt Morrett of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, uses deer decoys to solve his deer-hunting problems. “Once I was hunting acut corn field with the wind in my favor,” Morrett recalls. “Although I was seeing a large number of deer, I never could get close enough to take any shots. I noticed that the deer kept moving toward a large pile of brush in the middle of the corn field where the combine couldn’t gather the crop. I walked over to that brush pile and found two water holes out in its middle. I moved my tree stand to the edge of the field, directly across from the brush pile and in-between the two water holes. I set up a buck decoy on the edge of this cut corn field with the Missouri River to my back, and my scent blowing out over the river.
“The first evening after I moved the stand, we spotted a big 8 point come into the field about 100 yards to my right. I had a buck decoy set up at about 18 yards. When I first saw the deer, he hadn’t spotted my decoy, so I grunted at him with my True Talker. The buck looked up, immediately saw the decoy and grunted back at the decoy with his hair bristled-up. He then went into the brush pile to get a drink of water. I knew the corn stalks were at 30 yards. The buck was about 4 yards behind the stalks of corn. I shota 60-pound Mathews Switchback bow with a heavy Carbon Express arrow and New Archery Products’ Nitron broadhead to take that nice buck.
“I’m convinced that decoy preparation is the key to a deer decoy’s effectiveness. I wash my decoy down before every hunt with Hunter’s Specialties’ Scent-A-Way laundry detergent and then spray it down with Scent-A-Way spray. I pack the decoy in a plastic bag afterwards and also carry it to my hunting site in the plastic to keep from getting any human odor or other kinds of smells like wood smoke, foods, etc. on the decoy. Once I arrive at my hunting site, I again spray it down with Scent-A-Way spray and wear gloves to assemble it. I like to set my decoy up facing out in the field and spray Dominant Buck Urine on the ground behind the decoy. This strategy has consistently worked for me.”
Deer Decoy Secrets of Pro Hunters
Keeping Your Decoy Scent-Free
Editor’s Note: In the last couple of years, deer decoys, in states where allowed, have proved themselves as very-effective deer-hunting aids, especially on the edges of agricultural fields, green fields and pastures. However, a large number of deer hunters resist carrying any more stuff into the woods than what they’ve already got, particularly with the weight involved with 3-D decoys. Let’s listen to some hunters who successfully have used deer decoys and learn why they don’t hunt deer without their deer decoys.
Rick White of Monticello, Iowa, appears in videosand on TV in hunting segments and conducts deer-hunting seminars. “Most of the time, I put antlers on my deer decoys, so that they look like buck deer. I want to put a decoy in a place where bucks can see it from a great distance, like on the edge of a field, within 30 yards of my tree stand, and face the decoy to look toward my tree stand. I’velearned that a buck will come in to a decoy and try to get head-to-head with that decoy in preparation for a fight. Therefore, when the buck comes in to the decoy, usually, he’ll give me a broadside shot or a slightly quartering-away shot, which are the two shots I want to take with my bow.
“I can’t stress enough the importance of making sure your deer decoy is scent-free. I wash my decoy before a hunt with scent-free soap and use Scent-A-Way Spray on the decoy when I reach the region where I plan to hunt. I also spray Dominant Buck Urine and Doe Estrus scents on the ground behind the buck. I don’t want to spray these lures on my decoy because sometimes I leave it in the woods where I want to hunt. I’ve used this tactic successfully numerous times.”
Deer Decoy Secrets of Pro Hunters
Other Successful Deer Decoy Hunts
Many other hunters swear to the effectiveness of utilizing deer decoys. Jeff Ashmore of Loveland, Ohio, says, “I purchased Renzo’s Whitetail Buck decoy, and the first morning I used it,this fine 8 pointer came charging 150 yards across a green field at the first sight of the decoy. He was looking for a fight. The fight ended at 10 yards when I took him.”
Larry Porter of Greenville, Tennessee, explains that, “During muzzleloader season, I killed one of, if not the biggest deer, ever taken in Weakley County, Tennessee. I never believed much in deer calls or deer decoys until that week. I set up a Renzo’s Feeder Doe decoy and put some scent on it. My buck came running in, and I shot him at 50 yards. I’ve been told that I’ll have to let him dry for 6 months before I know if he makes the record book. But several people who have seen him say he will. My section of Tennessee has a lot of deer, but rarely ever do they live beyond 2-1/2-years old with all the hunting pressure. This buck is a real trophy for our region.”
Bob Weselmann of Northwood, Iowa, says, “The Carry-Lite decoy may be heavy to carry and tough to set up, but my wife and I never go into the woods without it. The buck taken last hunting season by my wife using the Carry-Lite decoy missed the Pope and Young book by 1-inch raw. Unbelievably the head of that buck actually fits inside the one of the buck she took this year over our Carry-Lite decoy,which scored 180 raw.”
Lorne Duncan of Horse Shoe, North Carolina, reports that he had tired of carrying those big, heavy 3-D decoys out into the field. According to Duncan, “I was in a sporting-goods store and saw one of those fold-up, picture decoys made by Renzo’s. I decided to buy one to hunt in Warren County, Illinois, 30 minutes from home. Every day last deer-hunting season that I set the decoy out in a field, I had a buck come to it. I was rattling, because I was hunting during the rut. I had several 120-class Boone & Crockett bucks come into the decoy. “I finally took the biggest buck I’d ever shot with my bow. That 202-3/8-gross scored B&C buck came to within 20 steps of the Renzo’s decoy. I’d shot this same buck before, which was the only buck that ever had gotten away from me, 2 years earlier. In that earlier encounter, I hit the buck high while bowhunting. Then 2 days after I’d shot him, I spotted him at 12 yards and another time at 20 yards, but I couldn’t get a shot at him either time. Then last year he came to the Renzo’s decoy, and I took him. When my hunting buddies saw how big the buck was and knew I’d taken him over a Renzo’s picture decoy, a herd of hunters rushed to the sporting-goods shop to buy one of those decoys. I was very impressed at how well the decoy worked.”

John Phillips

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