From scents and calls to trail cameras and feeders , there’s a wide range different products that can help increase your chances of success on your next whitetail hunt. However, when it comes to deer attractants , one of the most overlooked and potentially most effective strategies involves using deer decoys to draw in that trophy buck you’ve been searching for. Still, while the use of decoys is quite common when hunting turkeys, ducks and geese, it seems that only a small percentage of hunters have wizened up to the benefits that the best deer decoy can provide.
Part of any successful whitetail hunting strategy involves using all of the tools available at your disposal, as anything you can use that might give you a better chance of success will prove more than worth it if it helps you bag a trophy buck. Creating mock scrapes, calling and using urine and other deer attractants are all sure-fire ways to maximize your chances of successfully luring a deer in within range of your bow or rifle. However, using a quality deer decoy along with these other tactics is a great way to give yourself another tool that could potentially draw in that big buck you’ve been seeing on your trail cam.
Still, using a deer decoy successfully involves much more than simply buying a good decoy and setting it up somewhere near your stand , as you need to know exactly where and how the decoy should be set up in order for it to be most effective. As well, it’s important to note that a deer decoy alone probably won’t do much to grab that buck’s attention, which is why it’s always recommended that you use the proper deer scent and calls in conjunction with the decoy.
Do Deer Decoys Work? An Introduction to Using Deer Decoys
One of the most common questions hunters have is do deer decoys really work. The answer to this is a resounding yes, as there are a wide range of different deer decoys out there that can help you successfully lure in both bucks and does when used properly. However, when it comes to using a deer decoy there are a few things that you’ll need to pay attention to in order to make it most effective.
The most important factor when using a deer decoy is the location. It’s important that you place the decoy somewhere that is both within range of your rifle or bow and gives you the opportunity for a clear, unobstructed shot. However, equally as important is placing the decoy somewhere where it remains visible from a long distance to ensure that any deer cruising through the area notice it instead of just passing straight by.
As the point of a decoy is to draw a deer in to your location after you’ve gotten its attention with calling, it’s vital that you place the decoy somewhere where any approaching deer can easily see it. Basically, the further away that a deer can spot your decoy, the better your chances are that it decides to come in closer to investigate it.
Type of Decoy
In addition to the location, it’s also important that you pay attention to the type of decoy you’re using (i.e. buck, doe or fawn) and use the appropriate calls and scents for that decoy. Basically, if you’re using a fawn or doe decoy, your best chances of success will be achieved by combining this with the matching scent and call.
Common Mistakes Hunters Make with Deer Decoys
Probably the biggest reason that most hunters don’t use deer decoys is that they simply don’t know how to use them properly. For this reason, we’ll know look into some of the most common mistakes that many hunters make when setting up their decoys.
1. Using the Wrong Type of Decoy
In some cases, you might just be able to throw up any decoy and quickly have bucks cruising in to check it out. However, like scents and other attractants, each type of decoy has its own specific purposes. Choosing the right decoy for each potential hunting scenario involves focusing on how the deer are currently behaving, which changes based on the time of the season (i.e., early season, pre-rut, peak rut or post-rut).
Prior to the rut, most bucks will be looking to feed near other deer, which makes setting up a feeding doe decoy one of the best strategies for pre-rut hunts. On the other hand, once the rut is at its peak, you’d be better off using either an estrus doe decoy or a small buck decoy. These will be most effective at grabbing the attention of a buck cruising around in search of does.
Nonetheless, no matter what time of the year you’re hunting, it’s also important to use the right type of decoy to attract in your desired target. While bucks may be attracted to doe, fawn or buck decoys, does are never interested in bucks. Therefore, if your license only allows you to shoot antlerless deer, there’s no reason for you to use a buck decoy. So, when hunting does, you should definitely consider using either a doe or fawn decoy instead.
2. Using Your Decoy at the Wrong Time
While deer decoys can potentially be effective any time of the year, their best chances of increasing your success are when used in the two-week period leading up to the rut and during the peak rut. This is because deer are less cautious during this time, as their primary concern is mating . Although decoys may potentially work during other parts of the season, they also have a good chance of potentially spooking the deer away. Therefore, unless you know exactly what you’re doing, you’d be better off sticking to using your decoys mostly during the rut.
3. Not Appealing to All of a Deer’s Senses
While a quality decoy might be able to fool a deer’s sense of sight (which isn’t all that great compared to their hearing and smell), a decoy alone isn’t enough to fool its other, stronger senses. For this reason, it’s important that you use your decoy in conjunction with deer calls and the appropriate scent attractants based on the season, such as buck urine, doe urine or estrus urine.
4. Using Deer Scents in the Wrong Place
Using urine alongside a deer decoy is a great way to help improve its effectiveness. However, you need to ensure that you actually put the urine where a deer would expect to find it in order to have the best hope of fooling it. For this reason, most experts recommend that instead of simply spraying your entire decoy down with urine, you apply the urine to the ground below the rear of the decoy.
If you do feel you want to spray some of the scent on the decoy to help mask your own scent, its best that you apply it to the rear of the decoy only. After all, this is exactly where the deer will go sniffing to try to find the smell. This means that you’re basically wasting your scent if you decide to start drenching your decoy in urine.
5. The Smell of Your Decoy
Using urine alongside a decoy is a great way to help cover up your scent and can also work as an attractant. However, the problem is that your own smell can easily overpower the deer scent you’re using, especially if the decoy has been sitting inside your home, truck or garage for some time. As well, every time you handle the decoy, the oils and smells from your skin will rub off on it. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to thoroughly spray your decoy down in scent blocker both before heading out into the field and then again once it’s set up. Then, after using the scent blocker, you can finally apply the urine or other scent to ensure your smell is fully covered up.
Choosing the Best Deer Decoy: Ranking the Top Products
Come-Alive Tail-Wagger Deer Rear Decoy
Although they are not legal in every state, using a mechanical decoy is one sure-fire way to get other deer in the area to stand up and take notice. A huge range of mechanical deer decoys are now available, but amongst all the different models, this Tail-Wagger Deer Rear decoy is definitely one of the best.
Designed to perfectly resemble a whitetail’s butt, this decoy features a synthetic deer hair tail that you can make stick up and wag back and forth just like a real whitetail. The combination of the realistic foam tail, synthetic fur tail and automatic, adjustable wagging motion ensures that this decoy will definitely get noticed.
Primos Waggin’ Whitetail Deer Decoy
While the Tail-Wagger is definitely one of the best mechanical decoys available, if you’re looking for something a bit smaller and easier to transport, the Primos Waggin’ Whitetail Deer Decoy is an outstanding option. Unlike the Tail-Wagger, which features a replica of an entire rear end, this decoy is simply a life-like looking replica tail.
The tail can either be attached to a standard decoy or mounted on a post or tree, allowing you to create realistic looking tail motions guaranteed to draw other deer into the area. This decoy includes a remote that allows you to control the motion of the tail from up to 40 yards away. To ensure a fully authentic look, the tail includes two different types of movement—a short tail twitch and a long twitch.
Primos Scarface Destroy
If you’re looking for a durable, high-quality buck decoy that’s sure to get those other bucks’ attention, the Primos Scarface Destroy is without-a-doubt one of the best. Each Primos deer decoy is carefully constructed to ensure it looks fully realistic, making the Scarface Destroy one of the most authentic looking and thus most effective decoys currently on the market.
At only 1.6 pounds, the Primos Scarface Destroy is also one of the lightest decoys available, ensuring you won’t have to waste too much energy packing the decoy out to your stand. Further adding to the realism of this decoy is its unique wind-activated movement, which enables both the head and tail to move realistically whenever hit by the smallest breeze. Like other mechanical deer decoys, the Primos Scarface can’t be used during rainy conditions due to the delicate electronics. However, even despite this minor issue, few decoys can even come close to competing with Scarface.
Flambeau Masters Series Boss Babe Decoy
There are a number of excellent doe decoys on the market, but few, if any, of them offer the same level of realism and effectiveness as the Master’s Series Boss Babe Decoy from Flambeau. This decoy is not only extremely realistic, but it is also super lightweight, durable and easy to transport. The Boss Babe perfectly mimics the look of a submissive doe, providing an enticing target that almost no horny buck will be able to resist.
Dream Team Buck and Doe
While most modern deer decoys are made of plastic or some other special polymer, the Dream Team Buck and Doe combo features a super-lightweight, polyester-fabric construction. Although it may not be quite as realistic looking as the 3D decoys, these 2D decoys are still quite effective and offer a number of advantages over the other plastic decoys.
For starters, they are a heck of a lot easier to pack and transport. Each decoy can be folded up into a circle, and both decoys combined only weigh around 2 pounds. If your stand happens to be within short walking distance of your vehicle, you might be better off using a 3D decoy. However, if you have a longer distance to hike to get to your stand, the Dream Team Buck and Doe combo is a fantastic choice.
The Final Word on Deer Decoys
Finding the best deer decoy is actually quite easy, as virtually any decently realistic decoy can work if used properly. Nonetheless, considering the huge range of cheap, ineffective and flimsy decoys on the market, you’re much better off choosing one of the products found on our list. While it may take a bit of time and effort to get the best possible results, buying a quality decoy will be well worth it if it helps to bag that big buck you’ve been after.