I t’s no secret that hunting is a true passion of mine.
In earlier years, I would spend every free moment I had in the woods either scouting, setting up ambush sites or just sitting on the edge of a food plot enjoying the evening. As a matter of fact, it just seemed that I had little time for anything else (my wife will attest to that).
I have always loved to try different ways to bag my deer. Sure, most hunters will spend hours in a tree stand waiting for that fleeting moment when they can make the shot that counts.
Of course, that works. But as I had a few hunts under my belt already, I really enjoy having more fun in the field by hunting over a decoy.
Hunting with decoys has been around for a long time. However, you need to be aware of a few facts if you decide to try your luck with one of these fake love dolls. Scent control tops the list as far as I am concerned.
This is a good time to remind our readers that a human has about five million scent receptors. A dog is equipped with about 220 million scent receptors, and a whitetail deer takes the prize with about 297 million scent receptors.
For an animal that depends on its nose for survival, it amazes me that we ever get close enough to be able to being home a venison dinner.
Most hunters who use decoys forget to keep human scent off of it. They carry the decoy into the area they plan to hunt, set it up and then climb up into a tree stand. If you did not take the precaution of using rubber gloves while setting up the decoy, your scent will be all over it, and the deer will avoid it all together.
I always carry a spray bottle of Scent Away from WildLife Research Center. Once the decoy is set in place, I liberally spray the Scent Away all over the decoy and then climb up in my stand. I have also used scent away field wipes to keep the scent down to a minimum.
It is very important to place the decoy in the correct position for a nice clean shot. Early in the bow season, I usually just set the decoy up facing the wind. Any whitetail that sees the “deer” in the field would feel comfortable that there is no danger present.
The buck might come right in to your ambush site with no regard at all. Later in the year, when the rut is starting, bucks will approach a deer toward the back side so he could mount her. You should place the decoy so the tail is closest to you, and the decoy’s head looks away from your position.
The buck may come in toward the head, but will soon work his way to the back side. That’s when your clean shot should be in focus. With the buck approaching from the rear of the decoy, he will be concentrating on the “good looking babe” in front of him. You will be able to draw on that buck much easier.
Any sudden, fast movement will still draw the attention of that buck, but if you draw your string back nice and slowly, you might get yourself the shot you have been waiting for.
Another thing I like to do during the rut is to tape a piece of toilet paper on the decoy’s tail. Then I spray a little doe-in-heat scent on the paper.
The slightest wind will give that tail the look of some movement. I use the toilet paper technique during the early bow season as well. Just remember not to use the doe-in-heat at this time. The movement will be enough to bring a deer nice and close for an easy shot.
There are many different types of decoys to use. They have bedded decoys, stationary decoys; bobble head decoys and feeding decoys. Most are made from a rigid plastic material but Tink’s introduced blow-up dolls a few years ago that look very realistic, especially to another whitetail.
I cannot comment on the bobble head design because I have never hunted over one. However, I have used the others I mentioned. Bedded decoys give a relaxed look, and I like that idea. I prefer to have a decoy though that is standing up only because I think it is easier to see.
The feeding decoy by Flambeau is outstanding. It is realistic and most of all, it gives a relaxed look as if to say “Boys, the food is delicious… come join me.”
It has worked for me many times. Set up a couple of turkey decoys 20 yards away from the deer decoy and that will really convince the buck that all is well.
The blow-up model by Tinks looked so realistic that every once in a while I actually thought I saw a deer in front of me. One advantage of this model is that it’s so light to carry in and out of the field.
The rigid stationary decoy will bring deer in to investigate, but because it looks like it is staring at danger and not moving, bucks get nervous, as they get a little closer. I once had a nice buck come out in the field I was hunting. He came out on the opposite side, about 300 yards from me.
The deer saw my decoy and made a beeline toward it. As he got closer, he slowed down, but was still coming. It was the first time I had ever used a decoy and I thought that this was going to be so picture perfect that in my mind, I already had him packaged up in my freezer. When he got to about 50 yards, still out of my bow range, he stopped completely and stared at the plastic deer. He never smelled me, but he decided something was not right and walked away. Poof, there goes my venison in the freezer.
You may already have an ambush planned for your success in the whitetail world. If not, then I strongly suggest trying a hunt or two over a decoy. They work and they work well. Even if a deer gets a little nervous, and you do not get the shot off, it still is a blast watching them come in.
Have fun and hunt safe.
Email Lou Marullo at [email protected]