Are you one of those hunters who bought a decoy and only used it once or twice, or worse, never at all? Maybe you had a bad experience with one. Or, maybe you’ve considered buying one, but just can’t bring yourself to do it. You’re still not convinced that they work. And, we all know, they are not cheap. But, they are a worth-while investment; deer decoys can be a great addition to your deer hunting arsenal. The secret to success with a decoy is knowing how to properly use them. When used wrong, they can definitely devastate your hunt.

I’m a firm believer in doing your homework. Read what the experts have to say and know what you’re doing before you go. From there, it will all be a learning experience. Maybe you will find some of the tips didn’t work for you. And, that’s okay. You make the adjustments that you need to make and try again. With that said, let’s take a look at the top 7 expert tips for using a decoy.

  1. The absolute #1 tip, without a doubt, is to make sure you are using the right decoy at the right time. While a doe decoy can be effective throughout the season, using a buck decoy at the wrong time can have the wrong effect. Buck decoys are best used starting toward the end of the pre-rut and lasting through the end of the rut phase, including during the lockdown.
  2. The more realistic the decoy, the better it will work.
  3. Location is a key factor in decoy success. You want to place the decoy close enough to get a good shot, but not too close to be able to draw back or get in position. In general, 20-25 yards is a safe bet. Another important factor in location is to keep it visible. A lot of people tend to tuck their decoys into thick corners with a lot of cover. The decoy needs to be in the open where it can be easily seen by other deer.
  4. Try adding some sound. If you’re using a buck decoy, then throw in a few grunts and snort wheezes. And, don’t forget about rattling. Of course, you want to use doe bleats if you have a doe decoy out. Last but not least, if you’re using a combo of both decoys, mix it up a little.
  5. You’ve got the sound covered, so next is movement. Again, this goes back to the more realistic, the better. If a deer stands motionless for too long, the other deer are going to get spooked and realize something isn’t right. Adding movement can be as simple as attaching a white rag to the tail; keep it light enough to move with any wind. Other experts have recommended using white chicken feathers instead of a rag, but either will work. You can also buy tail kits and decoys with moving parts. There are also special kits on the market that will make your motionless decoy into a moveable one.
  6. Use scent! Once again, match what you’re using to the decoy. If you put out a buck, use buck urine. If you have a doe out, use doe urine. And, during the rut you definitely want to try doe estrous. And, you also want to keep your decoy scent-free. Keep it stored in a scent eliminating bag and use scent eliminating sprays on it.
  7. Size matters. When choosing a decoy, don’t pick one that’s too big. The last thing you want to do is intimidate a buck. Your best bet is to go with a smaller bodied buck with a medium size rack.

These are some of the top tips from some of the best experts around. These 7 seem to be agreed on by just about everyone. However, there is one more important tip that seems to cause a little division, and that is positioning of a buck decoy. Several experts recommend quartering the buck away from you, while others recommend quartering to you. The theory behind quartering the buck away is that the approaching buck will come in to the rear of the decoy to smell the tarsal glands. But in reality, a buck would never let that happen; it would turn and take the approaching buck head on. And, this is the reason other experts recommend quartering toward you instead of away. So, as far as this one goes, I guess you’ll have to decide which method you think will work best. This may be one of those situations where you have to do a little experimenting to figure it out.

I hope some of these tips have helped, and they give you the confidence to get out there and give decoying a try. They can add a new level of excitement to the hunt when used properly. If you’re already using a decoy and have some tips that you would love to share, we would love to hear them! Comment below or contact me personally at


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *