Do Decoys Work?

H unting with decoys is nothing new, but it can be a new way you choose to hunt if you want to have some fun out there n the field.

Hunters been successful for years with decoys. Like many other tricks you may use to bag your game, sometimes it will work and other times it will not. That’s why they call it hunting and not shopping.

With everything else a hunter needs to carry in the field, a decoy may just seem unnecessary. Take it from me. When it works, it can bring you a hunt that you will not soon forget.

There are many different types of decoys. For just about any species you hunt or fish for, a decoy is available to help bring you success. Some decoys are stationary. Others have some kind of movement. The movement is either caused by wind, or a hidden battery somewhere on the decoy.

On a personal note, I have had many successful hunts using decoys. Like most hunters out there, I hunt waterfowl with decoys. Turkey, dove and varmint hunters use decoys as well. But few use decoys when it comes to whitetail hunting.

What a mistake that is!

A good decoy can either bring a buck across a 300-yard field, or it can spook a deer so it hangs up just out of bow range. A lot of your success will be determined by how you set up your decoy. Knowledge of the behavior of the animal you are hunting is important.

Early in my hunting career, I had a Flambeau deer decoy that looked as if it was staring in one direction. I was bow hunting and saw a nice eight-pointer at the far end of the field. Once the buck saw my decoy in the field, he walked directly toward it as I readied for a shot. Closer and closer he came when all of a sudden he stopped just out of my accuracy range and got nervous. Not long after that, the big buck turned tail and walked away.

He was not spooked—just nervous. I had no idea why until the following week. My friend showed me his decoy that, when set up, looked like a calm doe feeding. It was then I realized my decoy looked as if she was looking at something, and the buck viewed that as danger.

I have used Flambeau decoys for years now, and I have to admit that they are my absolute first choice for hunting with decoys. Flambeau has been around for years, and has had much success with not only their deer decoys, but waterfowl and turkey decoys as well. 

Their Master series flocked Boss Buck is so realistic, the instructions recommend you to be careful in your set-up because other hunters will think it is real. However, that’s not a problem on a private lease where you don’t have to worry about other hunters. Then during the peak of the rut, this decoy will bring in the biggest buck in the area without any hesitation.

During early bow season, I prefer to hunt over a feeding doe decoy. It will bring other deer into the field to you, and it looks calm and natural. Flambeau now has, what they call, a grazing doe. Believe me, it looks great.

How you set up your decoy is paramount to success. If you are using a doe decoy, you should always set it up facing away or quartering away from you. Any buck that might investigate, will approach the doe from behind. However, if you use a buck decoy, it should be facing you. The approaching buck will walk to the decoy face to face to challenge him.

Regardless which method you use, remember to always wear rubber gloves to set up the decoy. I always spray the decoy with a scent absorbing spray. I do not care how excited the whitetail is, one whiff of a human, and he will remind you of why they are called whitetails.

In an earlier column a few years back, I wrote about using some turkey decoys to lure deer. I was hunting turkeys out of a pop-up blind and had three turkey decoys about 20 yards in front of me.

Two nice does entered the field 60 yards from the blind and immediately looked my way. The wind was right, but something spooked them. They were obviously very nervous. I watched as the two deer continued to stare at the new bush I was hunting from.

I thought that I would try some soft turkey calls to see what the reaction of the deer would be. As soft as I could, I yelped a few times. Immediately both deer calmed right down. As a matter of fact, they came well within bow range and had no idea I was less than 20 yards away!

Turkeys and deer often are seen feeding close to each other. I am not sure why, but I suspect that deer sense that turkeys are so wary that no danger could be nearby. I think turkeys feel the same way about the deer.

Who knows?

All I can tell you is that I have frequently seen turkeys and deer together. When I tried my little experiment, it worked like a charm.

Hunting with decoys can be a ton of fun. I will admit that a little more work is involved with something else to carry, but when it works, it is so worth it. After all, isn’t fun one of the main reasons we are hunting in the first place?


Email Lou Marullo at ContactUs@fishgame.com

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