If one deer decoy is effective, are two deer decoys twice as good?
The date was Wednesday, November 10. I got to my treestand before dawn, set up my decoys, and waited for daylight to arrive. When it did I could see 250 yards in two directions, and there were deer running everywhere.
When a nice eight-point walked out of the woods, I reached for my grunt call and gave two grunts. The buck turned, saw the decoys, sprinted over and faced up to my buck decoy at 15 yards, his glaring eyes rolled back and hair standing up on his back. This buck was lucky he was only a 2½-year-old…
Over the past five years, I’ve had pretty good success using decoys during the Pennsylvania rut. My first rule is I never use decoys until I know the rut is in full bloom because I want the bucks to be fully committed to the setup the first time they see it.
I started out using a buck decoy, and that worked fairly well. A doe decoy was better, but the bucks still weren’t fully committed. Once I started using a buck and doe decoy together, my success increased dramatically.
The next consideration is location. Field edges work best because you can see more ground, and a buck can see your setup from a greater distance. Setting up in the woods can work, but when a buck spots a decoy at close quarters, it often spooks him.
Wind is always critical. Position your decoys so that a responding buck that wants to get downwind of the decoys must put himself in your shooting lane.
Everyone has their own technique but I like to position the doe decoy within five or 10 yards so she is facing directly towards me, looking into the woods. I place the buck decoy five yards behind the doe, facing her tail at a 45-degree angle. In my experience a buck almost always approaches the front of the buck decoy, offering you a quartering or broadside shot.
Once your decoys are set up, spray them with a scent eliminator, lay down some lure scent if you wish, and then hang on for the start of the action.
When a buck acts aggressively, he cannot help himself and must address the double decoy setup. If he needs encouragement, I use a snort-wheeze call.
…Suddenly, at 2:30, a giant stepped out across the field. When he started walking across the field I grunted three times to get his attention. It was a repeat of the earlier encounter with the young eight-point, and within seconds this buck was coming face-to-face with my buck decoy. At 30 yards he started to posture at the decoy with his ears laid straight back, his hair standing up, and his eyes bloodshot and focused on the decoy. Now at 20 yards, I grunted at him with my mouth. The buck stopped. I concentrated on a spot and released the arrow. The buck jumped, kicked his back legs high into the air, and ran out into the field where he started to stagger. My heart was pounding with excitement and joy as the magnificent eight-pointer with a 22-inch spread tumbled to the ground!
After climbing down and laying my hands on the gorgeous buck, I reflected on how the double decoy setup has taken my bowhunting success to the next level. Pennsylvania is a tough place to kill mature bucks, but using both a doe and a buck decoy in concert has made my November deer hunts more action-packed than ever!
The author, an avid whitetail bowhunter and friend of the magazine, hails from Sturgeon, Pennsylvania.