Deer decoys are rapidly gaining popularity and claim a first place among other ways of hunting deer. They suit all hunters: beginners and experienced alike. But not all decoys are equally effective. In this guide, we will tell you what you should pay attention to when choosing a decoy for your hunt.
Types of Deer Decoys
Deer decoys come in many shapes and sizes. Thus, you have a large selection of decoys to attract a buck. You can buy anything from a simple tail bait to a full-size realistic-looking male. It is better to try different types of baits to understand what works best for the deer in your area.
Your choice should depend entirely on your region. In wooded areas and near undergrowth, partial decoys can be taken. In open fields, it is best to put the deer in full size.
To attract a buck, it is recommended to use grazing doe decoy. Decoys are usually categorized into 3 types: 3D Decoys, Silhouette Decoys, and Movement. Silhouette Decoys are printed pictures of a deer. They are portable but usually considered as less effective.
3D decoys are full-sized, three-dimensional models of real deer. They are more realistic, especially those that can move. It is much harder to transport them, and they usually cost more. These decoys are typically plastic. A decoy with a wagging tail is a movement option. Usually, they can be operated remotely and have an electronic engine inside.
It’s a proven fact that the more realistic a deer decoy is, the better it will work. The best way to attract deer is to use a decoy with realistic tails and hair. The more realistic it looks-the greater the chance to catch the animal. Otherwise, the bait may not attract any deer. And if that happens, it won’t take them long to figure out it’s an artificial deer, and run away.
On a decoy there are realistic features, namely: joints, allowing “natural” movement of the head or neck. Other models have a fleecy or suede-like coating to look more natural and prevent unnatural reflections from the surface. However, whether any of these functions have a major practical impact is still in question. There is a high probability that the male doesn’t notice these small details.
The Preservation of The Interest
Deer have fantastic eyesight and auditory sensitivity. These are the factors that make them exciting and challenging to hunt. Once your bait has lured the deer, it should interest him. For these reasons, use a decoy with a movable tail or head, it may be a significant advantage during your hunt. It is also possible to make use of deer scents on your decoy to seduce the animal.
The important factor is the stability of your decoy. There must be no need for you to return and correct the decoy constantly; so it should stay steady. Look for a decoy with a ground staking system.
Ease of Use
The decoys are very large. If you’re going far, you may not want to take the 15-pound bait with you. Choose one that is portable, some of them even have a special bag for transportation. If you like life-size models, make sure they are easy to remove and install.
You should also know how to disassemble them. It is better to assemble bulky decoys in advance. They are too noisy, and the assembling process may take too long. There is no such problem with smaller decoys, but when choosing them, you sacrifice a certain efficiency. Certain models have stakes or racks to hold them still, but not all. Pay attention to this when buying a decoy.
Remember that decoys are used to distract the animal, and to ensure that the deer’s attention is focused on the bait itself, not on you.
Proper placement of the decoy is vital to your success. Make sure it’s close enough for the shot, but not so close that it exposes your location. Remember that males are more likely to sneak up on another deer as they approach the female from behind.
Depending on whether it’s a female or a male deer, you should be able to position it so that it will be facing you and keep the deer you want to shoot between you and the decoy; so you can make the shot without being seen by the deer.
Durability and Materials
When choosing a lure, it is essential to pay attention to such factors as durability. The material plays an important role, and the decoy should not fade or be easily damaged. Weather conditions, in turn, can be extremely changeable, so the bait should be resistant to wind and rain.
There are certain areas for the insertion of aromatic pads, which give the model a more realistic scent. Some baits can detect deer sounds, but in some states, the use of electronic baiting devices is prohibited.
How to Use a Deer Decoy Effectively?
- Place your stationary deer decoy where you expect your target to notice it.
- It is not necessary to partially hide the full-size deer bait. Many people think that this method makes the bait more natural, but it does not. This only reduces your chances of attracting the attention of the deer. The open area allows the bait to be seen by the deer, but try to stay closer for a better shot.
- Never touch the decoy with your bare hands. Even a hint of human smell can confuse the prey, and you will return home without a trophy. After all, even decoys that include aromatic pads won’t kill the foreign smell. Use rubber gloves, not leather or fabric.
- Stay away from places where the females eat, since you will scare them and the males.
- Inspect the area and think of your next steps in advance.
- Be patient. Do not rush to change the position of the decoy until it has exhausted all its possibilities. You may not get anything at first, but in time you’ll get the biggest buck you’ve ever seen.
We’ve created this small section to answer the most common questions about deer decoys.
Which Way Do You Face a Deer Decoy?
The best way to use a decoy is to place it at a distance of no less than 26 yards and no more than 33 yards. It will allow you to occupy a perfect position and shoot a deer, that will be circling near the decoy at a distance of 19-23 yards. The decoy should be easily noticeable, so don’t try to hide it away.
When Should You Use a Deer Decoy?
The hunt with a decoy is virtually possible only during the period, which is called a “rut.” There are different stages of a rut: pre-rut, peak rut, and post-rut.
Pre-rut is the period from opening day until mid-October. The mature whitetail starts becoming more and more active in the daytime. What is more, there are no “lock-down” periods during the pre-rut, so it’s not feast or famine-like it is during the peak-rut.
Peak-rut usually lasts from mid-October to the end of November. This is the time of the mating season when the hormones of animals are in the active phase. Animals move more; they become less cautious and willingly respond to calls. Your hunt will yield the best result during this time if you use a decoy, one of the best options is using whitetail deer decoys. The most auspicious time for hunting is from 10 am to 4 pm.
The period after the peak rut is the post-rut. Most of the does are pregnant, but there are some does that will enter estrus during the last few days of November. During this period, it is better to use more traditional tactics. Deer will be getting ready for winter, preparing covers, and feeding areas to recover from the stressful rut period.
How Do Deer Behave During the Rut?
Without going into a detailed description of the behavior of males and females during the rut, we have noted for ourselves a few facts that directly affect the strategy and tactics of your hunting.
The first half of the rut is less successful for hunting with a decoy, than the second. This is explained by the fact that at the beginning of the rut, males still have enough females, which allows males to inseminate themselves. Male movements are less active. There is less competition for does, so there are fewer reasons for fighting between males, and the reaction to grazing doe decoys is worse.
At the beginning of the rut, females produce odorous substances that provoke the specific behavior of the males. Does in the second year of life start to attract males earlier, then adult females. Males approach females during the rut (females are in a rut for three to five days). The male chases the female. The male deer do not form harems but stays with the female as long as she is in a rut. After that, he looks for another female. Sometimes the male meets such a female accidentally, but more often, he has to win her in an active struggle with a rival.
What Are The Common Mistakes?
When choosing a location, study the features of the surrounding area, it is better to settle in a windless place to exclude the chance of the deer detecting your smell. When you get to the place where you will be hunting, minimize all possible sounds. If you are hunting with a partner, talk only in whispers.
Choose a high place with a good view. Remember that you will have to remain motionless for a long time, so your location should be relatively comfortable and spacious.
The absence of smell is very important in hunting since unfamiliar smells can easily frighten deer. And we are not talking about strong smells, such as deodorants, perfume or cigarette smoke, but about barely noticeable smells; as animals have a very delicate sense of smell, they can smell you at a distance of hundreds of meters.
Try to consider anything that might give you away. We have gotten so used to some smells that we don’t even notice them; others may be too weak for your nose, so you shouldn’t rely on it.
Use the neutralizers of odor. It is a special tool for hunters, which can mask strong flavors. They are available in the form of soap, sprays, lotions, oils. It is universal and can be used in different parts of the body, clothing, shoes, and weapons. The problem is that the effectiveness is highly dependent on the composition and manufacturer, and it usually takes a lot of time to smear it.
Do Deer Decoys Really Work? How Can You Know They Really Attract Other Deer and Provoke Reactions?
The experience of the hunters’ community proves the effectiveness of deer decoys. We advise you to use a realistic-looking 3D model, which is much more effective than a flat, 2D style decoy. Nowadays, companies manufacture a variety of standard styles and sizes of 3-D models that are available in different poses, such as whitetail deer decoys, grazing doe decoys, fawn decoys, buck decoys, and others.
Nevertheless, every deer has a unique personality, like your family members and companions. Some bucks see others as a social opportunity, while some shy away from any interaction. They live a bunker-style existence, and adding a decoy into their world doesn’t always guarantee a fish-in-a-barrel shot. So, it will take some time and effort to succeed. Much depends on the type of decoy you use, and how persistent and patient you are.
Decoy became one of the effective ways to hunt any animal, including deer. You should pay attention not only to decoy’s price but all the described features. Make sure that the scent is masked and the decoy is realistic. Hope, you are ready to choose the decoy for the best hunting ever!