Right off the bat, I’ll readily admit that I don’t have a deer decoy in my hunting arsenal.
Yet, that is.
Because there’s no question that they work as the deer hunting television rock stars I cover with Outdoor Channel and Sportsman Channel tell me almost every time we talk about deer hunting in November.
Take Stan Potts, for instance, the North American Whitetail TV show co-host who has taken dozens of big bucks down through the years including several over 200 inches as he hunts near and far from his Illinois home.
“I’m a firm believer in decoying,” Potts once told me. “I always use a buck decoy and not a doe decoy and set it up along the edge of an open field, an open pasture or a food source.”
Potts urges bowhunters using a decoy to position it upwind of their stand location about 20-yards or so. In doing so, a real buck that saunters in should eventually walk between the hunter’s stand and the decoy to scent-check the fake deer.
He also advises archers to place the decoy quartering toward their stand location with the decoy looking back into the woods behind the hunter. According to Potts, such a posture will look more realistic to an approaching buck, with the decoy simulating a deer that is looking back at a doe or another buck in the woods rather than staring blankly out into the open space of a field.
While Potts often opts to use only a buck decoy during his rut hunts, Realtree Outdoors TV show co-host and producer David Blanton has found a different arrangement of decoys to be highly effective over the years.
Like Potts, Blanton has plenty of on-camera deer hunting experience from one side of the North American continent to the other as he has filmed, produced, and starred in television shows for The Nashville Network and ESPN Outdoors in the past and now Outdoor Channel and Sportsman Channel in the present
For Blanton, his highly effective decoying technique during the whitetail rut is the use of not one, but two decoys when the big bucks are on the prowl in November.
“I get a (decoy) and put on (small) antlers (to simulate) a little buck, then I take the second one, a doe, and don’t put the legs on her, to simulate a doe being bedded down,” said Blanton, a well known Georgia hunter who has worked for Bill Jordan’s Realtree Camo company since the 1980s.
Like Potts does, the veteran deer slayer Blanton takes extra care on exactly how he positions the two decoys in front of his stand.
“I take this little buck and put it about 10 feet away from the bedded doe, and she’s looking back at him,” he told me in one of our interviews. “In my mind, what I think it conveys is a doe that is coming into heat, but she’s submissive and doesn’t want to be bred by this little buck, so she lies down.
“Since they’re looking at each other, to me, it’s a very, very convincing set-up.”
Especially when Mr. Big shows up looking for love, likely quite irritated by the potential antlered suitor edging in on his autumn turf.
With both Potts and Blanton chasing big deer all across the South, the Midwest, the Rocky Mountain West and in Canada, the two television deer hunting stars have ample proof that the decoying technique works well. Plus, they’ve also got some pretty hefty taxidermy bills over the years, deer mounts that give first hand evidence to the decoying technique’s effectiveness.
Does the use of deer decoys also work in Texas, during the mid-November rut up north near the Red River and during the December rut down in the Brush County of South Texas?
I would all but guarantee that it does. While not a totally foolproof hunting technique anywhere, big bucks like to find estrous does and keep them all to themselves along with showing their dominance in keeping lesser bucks at a distance as the rut rages on.
And since the rut is currently rolling up here in much of North Texas, what can it hurt to put up a decoy up in the situations mentioned above?
If you have one on your hunting lease or in your garage, it hurts nothing, at least until a buck lowers his shoulder and charges on the decoy in a destructive rush or a hunter sends a well-placed arrow or a bullet downrange.
Either way, the use of a decoy while hunting rutting deer in Texas promises plenty of action during the hunting season’s most exciting days.
And what’s not to like about that, except perhaps getting a bigger taxidermy bill?