How to Use Deer Decoys to Attract Deer – Foundry Outdoors

How to Use Deer Decoys to Attract Deer

     Although the concept of using decoys for hunting various species of game birds is a long established and widely accepted practice, the idea of using them to attract deer is still a new concept to most avid deer hunters. However, the fact is that when a buck follows a scent trail laid down by a hunter or, follows the sound of rattling horns, he fully expects to find another deer where the scent trail ends or the sound of combat originates. But, when he arrives on the scene and does not see another deer standing where he expects it to be, then his first reaction confusion which quickly leads to suspicion. Consequently, combining the use of deer decoys with the use of deer urine scents, rattling horns, and deer calls is a wise idea that is readily embraced by those hunters who have tried it. In addition, because deer are very curious animals, using deer decoys can be an excellent way to attract deer to a stand or blind in open country. However, due to the realism of some of today’s modern, three dimensional, deer decoys, safety when transporting them is of paramount concern because another hunter may very well mistake your decoy for the real thing! Thus, you should never, ever, transport a deer decoy to or from the woods or field unless it has been fully disassembled and is completely enclosed by a hunter orange cover.

deer buck doe decoy

     But, even though it does require extra effort from a hunter to transport a deer decoy to their desired hunting location and then assemble it and then, to disassemble it and transport it out again at the end of the day, doing so can drastically increase a hunter’s chance of drawing in a mature buck. Of course, the reason for this is that even though deer are inherently skittish animals, they are also very curious and thus, they have a tendency to investigate anything new in their environment as long as they don't feel that it poses a threat to them. However, it is important to note that deer are very much individuals and thus, they each respond to decoys in different ways on different days. Nonetheless, observation has demonstrated that mature bucks often display an intense curiosity toward doe decoys and an aggressive behavior toward buck decoys while, does often pay them little attention.

     Therefore, while using a deer decoy to lure a mature buck to you stand is not a foolproof method, it can greatly increase your chances; especially when you combine the use of a deer decoy with rattling horns, deer calls, and urine scents. Therefore, once you have your tree stand or ground blind in place and your deer decoy assembled, you should then note the direction of the prevailing breeze and, if you are using a doe decoy, you should position it such that it's nose is facing into the wind because bucks tend to approach does from behind. On the other hand, if you are using a buck decoy, then you should position it such that its tail is facing into the prevailing breeze because bucks tend to approach other bucks nose-to-nose. Then, once you have your decoy assembled and properly positioned, you should apply a small amount of the appropriate interdigital, preorbital, tarsal gland and/or urine scents to the decoy to make it seem even more realistic to any curious bucks that decide to approach it.

     Then, once you have your deer decoy properly positioned and the appropriate scents applied to it, you should also apply an interdigital scent as well as either a doe urine scent, a doe-in-estrus urine scent, or a dominate buck urine scent (depending on whether you use a doe or buck decoy and, whether or not the rut has started) to a rag which you then attach to your ankle via a short cord and allow it to drag along the ground behind you as you walk in a circuitous route around your stand in order to create a scent trail for a buck to follow. Then, once you have your scent trail laid down, you should approach your deer decoy from downwind with your drag rag still attached to your ankle so that any buck that follows your scent trail will perceive it to lead right up to your decoy. Furthermore, combining a set of rattling horns and/or grunt calls with your deer decoy will provide any approaching buck with an additional focus for his attention so that as he approaches your decoy, he will be less likely to be wary due to the decoy’s lack of movement or response to his presence.

     In addition, you should also be aware that there are many different types of deer decoys and that some work better than others. For instance, some deer decoys are nothing more than silhouettes and, while they are much easier to transport than a three dimensional decoy, they do not present the same level of realism if a buck decides to circle your decoy. On the other hand, while three dimensional deer decoys are often significantly heavier than silhouette decoys, they do provide a much more realistic representation of a deer and, some of them even have pivoting necks or heads as well as battery powered tails which provide movement and thus, they drastically increase the illusion that your decoy is the real thing.


Deer Decoy Silhouette


     So, although transporting a deer decoy with you into the woods or field definitely creates and added element of danger and, especially so when hunting on public land, the extra expense of purchasing one and, the extra effort required to transport it and set it up can definitely be well worthwhile and this is especially true when hunting in open country where mature bucks tend to be extra wary due to the lack of available cover and the narrow travel corridors that sparse cover provides. But, presenting a mature buck with the illusion of another deer can make a huge amount of difference and thus, it can drastically increase your chances of harvesting a trophy!



 Written by,


 Bill Bernhardt

Outdoor Professional

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