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Decoying Whitetails during the Rut

Decoying Whitetails during the Rut

Bowhunting is a sport full of unpredictable situations, especially around the time of the rut. To tame the random factors, many hunters choose to use a deer decoy during the rut. Instead of simply sitting in a tree, wishing a deer wanders by, a high-profile whitetail decoy can pull mature bucks in on a string. Nothing can be more exciting than fooling a wise deer looking for love or a fight, but you need to choose the right decoy, the right location and commit to hunting with a decoy and preparing a strategy. Here are some tips to help you be more successful when hunting with a decoy.

Should you use a buck or doe decoy?   

If you are looking for an answer of what kind of decoy to buy, the answer is simple: All of Montana Decoys work. But some may work better than others during certain phases of the rut.

The best pre-rut decoy is a buck. Early season bucks are social critters. Before the rut causes a buck to assert their dominance, they may seek a buck for companionship or to practice sparring. Later in the pre-rut phase, a buck decoy will challenge dominant bucks in the area looking to assert their authority over other bucks in the area.

Once bucks begin chasing does a buck and doe combination is the best decoy setup. The buck and doe combination will work starting when bucks begin cruising for does and continue to work until the post rut phase. Mature and assertive bucks will not tolerate a subdominant buck tending a doe on their turf during the chase and breeding phase. A buck standing next to a doe can provoke a response that is darn near violent from bossy bucks.

After the peak breeding phase has ended, a doe decoy in a feeding pose like the Montana Decoy Whitetail Playmate can get the attention of a love starved buck looking for a final rendezvous. There are some doe decoy tactics that can lure in the big late-season survivor bucks, and we will get to those tips in a future blogs which will focus on how to best use whitetail decoys during the rut.

Early-Season Deer Decoy Placement   

Before the chasing phase starts, bucks are still in a feeding and bedding routine, but are still looking for company to spar with and are becoming more and more testosterone driven each day the peak breeding season comes closer. The best decoy locations in the early season are close to bedding areas, travel routes from bedding areas to feeding locations (especially if there is evidence of rubs and scrapes) and food sources – in that order.

Bedding areas are best if you can get close without alerting the deer because it gives you the best chance to see a buck (and allow him to see your decoy) in daytime hours. However, if you do not have a fool proof entrance and exit route to these areas, do not push your luck. Back off to a well-travelled trail leading to a destination food plot.

When hunting over a travel corridor which is often through heavy cover, you will want to place your buck decoy in areas where it is most visible from many angles. Open wooded funnels, ridgetops and creek bottoms are good decoy placement locations. Keep in mind, the closer deer get to food sources and the farther away from bedding zones, the more alert they become.

Food sources offer great decoy visibility as long as bucks are visiting them during legal shooting hours. Place your buck decoy close to the entrance of a feeding area try to get a buck to investigate before he enters the food plot in the evening or after he leaves in the morning.

Pre-Rut Deer Decoy Strategies

Grunt calls and light rattling sequences can get the attention and challenge other bucks to come to your whitetail buck decoy. Add a tail to your decoy or a little buck scent to the area to increase realism. Place your buck decoy 10-15 yards upwind of your stand, quartering towards you, and you will have an easy shot at a quartering-away buck.

Decoys are a great way of circumventing the randomness of the rut. Many hunters do not entertain the thought of using a decoy because they think they are cumbersome. But unlike other decoys, all Montana Decoys are portable, packable, easy to set up and as realistic as 3D decoys (Montana Decoy Whitetails, including poles, weigh: Whitetail Buck (32 oz.), Whitetail "Dreamy" Doe (30 oz.), Whitetail Playmate (25 oz.) and fold up to the size of a dinner plate). Take advantage of prime decoying situations from early pre-put to late post-rut and see how exciting hunting over a decoy can be. We offer all the whitetail decoys you need at any stage of the rut. Check out the full line here.