How to Use a Deer Decoy? A Beginner’s Guide

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Very thankful for your business.

You’ve been waiting for this moment all year, and now the time has come. Deer hunting season is beginning at last! But you don’t want to just go out there blindly—you need to be prepared so that your first hunt is a success.

For beginners looking to use deer decoys while in pursuit of their prey, it’s important not only to know how they work but also what types exist on the market today and which ones would best suit your needs. I’ve compiled some great information below:

7 Tips on How to Use a Deer Decoy

1. Timing

Timing the rut activity can improve your success rate. Using a deer decoy around October and November can bear some luck because, at this time, deer tend to be in the mood for a fight. The perfect deer decoy at this time would be looking to fight. The ears pinned back, and the body all bristled up. 

It is easier to provoke a fight during the rut than other times of the year, thereby improving your luck. 

2. Doe vs. Buck Decoy

You never know which will grasp the attention of the deer you are hunting. However, you can choose between using a doe or buck decoy, depending on your situation. 

When using a buck decoy, the chances are that a dominant buck will stop for a challenge. They are territorial, and the thought of another buck in its area isn’t welcome. But it’s not given that a dominant buck will leave a doe for another decoy doe.

Sometimes a gruesome-looking decoy buck may intimidate the dominant buck. When this happens, consider taking out one antler from your decoy buck so that it doesn’t spook the deer

3. Human Odor

It is uneventful to set up your deer decoy correctly but forget to eliminate the human odor. Deer are sensitive, and if they catch a whiff of your scent, they will avoid the deer decoy. You won’t find a chance to get a shot. 

You can eliminate human odor by spraying the deer decoy with a scent killer. When hunting either does or bucks, you must set your deer decoy to cover wind direction to get the best shot opportunity.

4. Using Scents and other Trickery

Before the deer sees your decoy deer, there are many ways to bring it running to your spot. To attract a buck, making grunts, rattling, or snort wheezing noises. It makes it appear like a fight is ensuing and will attract bucks from long distances. 

You can easily fool three senses of the deer, and you can use these tips to fool even the older experienced bucks. 

Rattling and noises fool the buck’s ears while the decoy deer tricks its eyes. Scents are vital because deer rely on their sense of smell. 

Popular scents include a doe in estrus or a mature buck scent to attract the dominant buck. 

5. Having Clear Front Lanes

Aggressive bucks will be ready for a fight with your deer decoy. They will face it head-on or walk parallel to it. 

Front clear lanes will give you the opening and time for a well-placed shot. 

6. Using Deer Decoy with a Blind

When setting a new blind, it’s easy to spook bucks away because they are rarely welcoming to new sights. But having a deer decoy takes their attention from the new blind, becoming completely oblivious of your presence. 

To use ground blinds successfully, ensure that you spray them with masking scents. Spray everything you will use on your blind set up, including chairs, binoculars, and standsTree Saddle Hunting: Complete Guide

7. Observe Buck Behavior

Bucks of all sizes will react the same way to your decoy. When your setup is still new, keep adjusting it to positions that give you the best shot placement. A common observation is that young bucks will behave as mature bucks when they come in contact with your decoy. 

If you are waiting on a big buck, adjustments include spots for the buck to rub its antlers as it shows dominance. It keeps it preoccupied, giving you enough time to pick your shot. 

How to Choose the Best Deer Decoys

Deer decoys are a great way to attract deer. There is no guarantee they will come, but it can be helpful in situations where you don’t have time for other hunting methods or need assistance when feeding them. When deciding on which type of deers decoy, four questions may help narrow your choice: 

  • What kind do I want? 
  • Where am I going? 
  • How many would work best at my location (eastern vs. western)?
  • And how much does this cost me per set-up?

Here are some factors to consider when choosing the best deer decoy;

Features

A deer decoy should be like a real deer. The sounds, movements, and appearance should be convincing. It would help if you had deer smells to keep the does and bucks engaged for long before figuring out that the decoy is a false stag. 

If you get any of the features wrong, even if your decoy attracts deer, it won’t be long enough to get a clear shot. 

Portability

Hunting requires strategy as well as skill. When using a deer decoy, there are many models to choose from. If you plan to move from one spot to another frequently, choosing a portable and easy transport deer decoy is vital. 

Modern models are compact and lightweight to ensure that you can carry them easily, along with your other hunting gear

Construction

The material of your deer decoy should be both reliable and durable to last longer. It should stand piercings when fully inflated to give an illusion of a full-body buck. 

The design of the deer decoy must also be convincing. The buck becomes aggressive only when it sees the decoy as a threat. Other designs include peeing does (mimicking estrus). 

User-friendliness

A hunting setup should be easy. Using a deer decoy is straightforward, and you should be able to inflate or fold in a few minutes. 

Placing the deer decoy on the ground is an essential step. It should be strong enough to withstand a challenge yet flexible to rattle.  

Value

Deer decoy is challenging to craft. The closer it looks to the real thing, the more likely it is to fetch higher prices. Check that your deer decoy checks all the boxes to have more chances of success. These attributes include durability, realism, being portable, compact, and lightweight. 

If it lacks any qualities and comes cheaper, know that you are compromising the hunting success. 

Brand

Different brands offer various features. Popular brands mean that the deer decoy is proven and tested by other hunters with relative success. 

Check how different brands compare before settling for a deer decoy. 

Best Deer Decoys: Our Top 4 Picks 

1. Montana Decoy Miss Muley

You can find and order the decoy here

Montana Decoy Miss Muley is a user-friendly and easy-to-use deer decoy that you can take with you on the go. It’s compact and lightweight, so it will not weigh down your pack when packing for a day of hunting in the field. This decoy can be folded up into a small, convenient size or opened up for realistic views of animals all around. It is compatible with any quick stand making switching positions between sitting or upright easy.

Pros

  • Attaching it to your quick stand is easy and fast. 
  • The HD photo of the mule deer is realistic.
  • Lightweight and compact for easy transportation 

Cons

  • It cannot withstand heavy wind and can easily be blown over. 

2. Dream Team Buck and Doe

You can find and order the decoy here

It’s always a success when these two, Dream Team Buck and Doe Decoys, come to the hunt. The buck decoys fold up for easy transport so you can leave the set-up wherever you want it.

Whether your favorite hunting spot is near water or woodland brush, these decoys look like they could have been drawn on canvas. They reuse an HD photo of real whitetails for unmatched realism that sets them apart from other decoys. 

With a flick of their tails at just the right moment, they’ll get those sneaky game animals showing themselves and begging for your arrows!. 

Pros

  • Dream Team Buck and Doe are easy to pack and unfold when you want to set it up on your hunting site. 
  • If you want, you can use only one or both deer decoys to attract the deer you want. 
  • Many set up positions to make you get the prime position for the best shot placement. 

Cons

  • There are some complaints about the support poles being fragile. 

3. Montana Decoy Estrus Betty

You can find and buy the decoy here

The Montana Decoy Estrus Betty is the perfect product for hunters everywhere. The realism holds a buck’s attention while you get ready to take a shot, and it can be used to hunt whitetail deer in particular.

It has an appealing body that is easy to carry and fits tightly into your pack when not in use. Additionally, this decoy comes with special spikes so that it will fit on your Quickstand* without sliding around and getting damaged during transport. 

If you prefer using lure rather than scent with hunting deer or if you are struggling at spotting one antler or eye through the brush, then this would be a great investment!

Pros

  • You can use other deer decoys to improve your hunting success.
  • Inflates to full-size fast making it easy to set up on new hunting sites. 
  • Uses realistic HD photos of does. 
  • The raised tail and bent pose attract mature bucks. It is realistic. 
  • You can easily remove any scent by washing with soap and airing it to dry. 
  • Compact, lightweight, and foldable for easy transportation to different hunting sites. 

Cons

  • Because it’s lightweight, strong winds can flail it and blow it away. 
  • It doesn’t come with an ascent pad to attract mature bucks. 

4. The Freshman by Montana Decoy

You can find the Freshman Buck Decoy here and buy it

The Freshman Buck Decoy is the perfect decoy for any bowhunter who prefers realism and mobility. In seconds, it folds up to be easy to carry without sacrificing openness or detail, but it’s also designed to work with a Teaser Tail for maximum effect.

This buck sign has its ears back and an aggressive stance so deer feel challenged without being intimidated. The posture of this decoy sends a challenge that brings bucks in closer when they see him.

But this doesn’t stop at just bows; you can easily set the Freshman on the ground next to another Montana Doe Decoy by using a Quickstand, so your setup looks as realistic as possible.

Pros

  • For better stalk and spot performance, you can use it together with the Montana Decoy quick stand. It’s sold separately. 
  • It uses HD pictures to give the illusion of a real buck. 
  • Not bulky or cumbersome to carry to hunting sites.
  • The pose design is effective as it keeps mature bucks engaged when rattling or calling. 

Cons

  • The small body frame is susceptible to heavy winds and can be blown over easily. 

Conclusion

Deer decoys are a great way to draw in deer, but it is important that you know how and when to use them. There are many factors that come into play when using a deer decoy, and it can be confusing for someone who is new. 

We hope this article has been helpful in guiding you through some of these considerations, like choosing the best decoys and how to use them efficiently.

If you prefer a youtube guide I really like this one:

Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc, or its affiliates.

Scroll to Top