The information we have to offer is mostly provided by other deer decoy and predator decoy hunters. “Our” research is gained by talking to many knowledgeable sources (like deer biologists) and hearing from thousands of hunters. THOUSANDS! They hunt with whitetail deer decoys and they don’t all necessarily agree with each other.
A very good book to read by Gary Clancy is called “Rattling, Calling, and Decoying Whitetails.”
5 stars at Amazon.com!
We recommend that you Paint the rear end of the decoy (white) just like a real deer.
The contrast with the wagging tail will increase sightings by other deer.
Different things affect decoying.
1. Deer have different personalities, just like dogs, cats, people, etc. Their reactions to other deer (or deer decoys) may be different from one deer to the next.
2. We’ve coined a phrase: “situational attitude.” How a deer reacts to another deer is influenced by what previously has happened to it. That can be from just seconds ago, to months ago. If the biggest, most dominant buck in the area just had a knock-down, drag-out fight with another buck, he might avoid all other deer and rest for a while… even if he won the fight. But, sometimes he may be invigorated by the fight and hoping to find another. How he reacts to a decoy depends on how he feels. The same information applies to all deer. “Dominant doe” might have just protected a fawn from coyotes. It affects what she does next.
So, how do you place a decoy? What scent should you put out? Should you rattle or grunt? Is Flambeau’s Redi-Doe better than the Grazing Doe, or Carry-Lite’s buck decoy, or a McKenzie target? There’s just no correct answer. Some big name hunters swear that you should only use a buck decoy. Some say only a doe decoy (we’ll not mention the names because everybody is correct sometimes). Just like somebody saying how great rattling is. Or a certain scent. If it worked great once, that doesn’t mean it will next time.
We will tell you this: Plenty of makeshift decoys have worked. Bales of hay with legs and a head. But, you’ll find that the lightweight , easily transportable decoy will make it easier enough on you that you will be more willing to use them, and more often.
And, we’ll tell you this: nothing, absolutely nothing, works all the time. Just like deer do not always come out at dusk. They don’t. But it seems like it. In part, it’s because we’ve become accustomed to expecting it then. So we look more.
1. Place the decoy where it can be seen. Adding some motion will help get it noticed and put some life into it. But, it doesn’t have to be a Tail-Wagger, it’s just \what a Tail-Wagger is very easy to use and reliable compared with the alternatives.
2. Keep the decoy scent free. You can place canisters nearby, inside, or whatever. But don’t contaminate the decoy… especially with human scent. Understand that whatever scent you put on that decoy remains with it until removed. Do you want that smell wherever that decoy goes (remember, you may be hauling that thing through the woods at dark). A food based scent may mean that mice chew on your decoy when it’s stored in the garage. And, urine scent starts to “rot” when exposed to air.
3. Don’t “humanize” deer. A sequence in “Jeremiah Johnson” goes something like this:
The guide and Robert Redford are behind a horse trying to sneak up on an elk. Redford asks the guide “Won’t it see our legs.” Guide replies: “Elk not know how many legs horse has.”
Deer react to what’s there, they don’t “think,” as in rationalizing. The older a deer gets, the smarter it gets, due to life experiences. But, it still doesn’t “think.”
4. Duck hunters have used decoys a very long time. Their “spreads” became bigger over time and motion was added. Did it take more and more to draw them in? Were the ducks getting smarter? Not necessarily. But, hunters used more tools to become more effective.
5. When every hunter in the woods is using a decoy, it won’t be nearly as effective because the deer will wise up to the encounters. It will be some time before we get to that point. And some hunters never will accept the idea. Enjoy it now.
6. The more time you spend hunting, the more likely you are to get a shot at the big buck. The more hunting you do with a deer decoy, the less time you’ll have to hunt to get the big buck. A deer decoy is likely to give you an opportunity to select your shot more easily. More opportunities to select a “shooter” deer. Do not give up if it does not always work!
Is your time is running out? How long can you wait to get a shot at a really nice buck? Are you getting any younger? Are the anti’s getting any less vocal? Are the resources getting any greater?
We’re sorry if this information is not the “holy grail” you might have been hoping for. We want you to know the truth and get our point across, too. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING works every time! Some things work better than others, though.