Hunting > Whitetails

The Big-Buck Fake Out

How cool would it be if an 8-pointer came in hair bristling to this plastic charlatan?

Deer decoys work, sometimes. I’ve never had a buck roll in to mount or fight my fake like some hunters have, but I’ve had more than a few sneak in and check it out. Deer decoys don’t always work. I’ve watched both does and bucks of all ages shy from the bait from afar; others crept closer, only to hang up just out of bow range. But deer decoys are fun, anytime. A decoy doe or buck adds excitement to a hunt. You sit in your lock-on and wonder, “How cool would it be if an 8-pointer came in hair bristling and antlers swaying to this plastic charlatan and I kill him with an arrow?” Here are some ways to help make that happen.

Pack Smart

Develop a routine for packing in. I like to stop 60 to 70 yards downwind of my treestand, assemble the decoy and sneak the rest of the way. I go slowly to deaden the awful scraping of limbs and brush on plastic. I stake the decoy and climb the tree—fast. This is about as efficient as it gets with a full-body unit. Also, you won’t leave a ton of stink on the ground where you hope a buck will come in for a shot, like you would if you knelt and assembled the decoy parts on the spot the way most people do it. 

Dust Your Decoy
Wear rubber gloves and use a scent eliminator when packing and fitting it together. I dust mine with Code Blue Stealth Dust, which is less messy than a spray.

#1 Rule: A decoy can’t work if a buck can’t see it and come to it. Set your fake on the edge of a field, in a woods glade, on a grassy hillside, on a sandy riverbank … you get the picture. A spot with a mix of openings for visibility and patches of thin cover that a buck can work through is great. 

#1 No-No: Do not set a decoy in thick cover where it will surprise a deer that happens by. I’ve seen both does and bucks freak, flip end over end and run from an imposter that suddenly popped up in the brush.

The Doe Set
Buck decoys are the rage, but I think a doe works better, especially early and late in bow season. Set Ms. Plastic in a bow-shooting lane 10 to 20 yards in front of your treestand and on the upwind side of it. Face her into the wind—a buck will always come from downwind to sniff her butt. Hang two wicks with doe urine nearby to reel him those last yards. Do a little soft grunting or bleating like she might if she were real.

The Buck Set
In most parts of the whitetail’s range, October 20 to November 8 or so is the time to try to trick a buck. Again, set it where deer can see it, and close to a spot with some big, hot scrapes and fresh rubs. Stick one or two antler twigs on its head; hang some stout buck urine or tarsal nearby. Do some rattling and aggressive grunting every 20 to 30 minutes. With the real bucks agitated and prowling, a 10-pointer might hear your ruckus, spot your imposter and roll in to kick his butt. Keep it together and shoot straight.  

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