I have always found a decoy to be a pain. It is big, bulky and, most worrisome to me, incredibly noisy to cart through the woods, banging on limbs and raking brush. On top of that, I’m not sold on how one works. Set out a fake deer and real deer will see it, all right. Some of them will blow and haul ass the other way.
I have had curious bucks approach a decoy and come into easy gun range, so I know they can work. Trouble was, I was always hunting with a bow on those days. BTW, It is probably not smart to use a decoy in gun season for obvious reasons, although I can’t imagine a good, responsible hunter shooting a plastic deer out from under you. But stupid people do stupid things, and there stupid people in the world. If you set a decoy in gun season, do so at your own risk.
Story: One day out on the Milk River last November when the bucks were getting their rut on, Luke Strommen worried me to death to try a new-fangled decoy he and a buddy had just bought. “Look, it’s got a movable tail and everything,” Luke crowed, waging the appendage. (My buddy lives in rural NE Montana; it does not take much to get him excited :) “OK,” I relented, but I’m not carrying the damn thing.” Luke laughed and happily toted the incredibly loud, hollow-plastic deer into some timber. He stuck a pair of small, fake antlers on his head (deer’s, not Luke’s), hid in the grass 20 yards away and began rattling and grunting. I was the shooter, and so set up 30 yards upwind to his left.
Damned if a 140-class buck didn’t see the thing and come sneaking in! But alas, like all the bucks I’d tried to decoy before him, he hung up about 40 yards behind the fake, froze, stared, stamped his foot and, finally, busted out of there like his hide was afire. But I was closer than ever this time, having drawn an arrow and let it down once. Funny, bummer, Luke was so hidden and into the calling that he never saw the buck or knew what was going on, so I ended up having all the fun, not him.
BTW, I have never had a rut-crazed buck run in and fight/demolish a decoy like some of the stories you hear. I don’t doubt that it happens on occasion, but not very much.
Having said all that, and still a decoy skeptic, I am going to try a new one that caught my eye, a lightweight, easy-to-pack doe (think inflatable). I think it would be kick-ass to kill a good buck over a decoy for a TV show on Versus, and I am going to try and make it happen this fall. More on that new decoy I'll use tomorrow. For now, anybody got a decoy story, good or bad?