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Late Season Deer Decoy Tactics

Late Season Deer Decoy Tactics

Late season deer hunting requires a change of tactics, but a deer decoy will still help you end the season on a high note.  When determining what tactics will fill your tags and put venison in your freezer, you need to consider many factors. The deer are concentrating around food sources, wary after being pursued all season. And what is all this talk about a second rut?

Tony Hansen, whitetail editor at Realtree.com and president of Booner Media, is leading the revolution in reality hunting entertainment. We talked with Hansen about how he uses decoys to fool wary, public-land whitetails late in the season.

“I think there are two scenarios where a decoy can work really well,” said Hansen. “The first is in an area that does not get a ton of hunting pressure and there is a normal age structure and sex ratio where a late rut is likely to happen.

“The second scenario is more likely, though. A deer decoy is helpful when you are hunting a food source that is being visited by deer day after day. The deer usually come to these sources in groups so there are lots of ears and lots of eyes.”

Here is how Hansen uses a deer decoy in late season situations:

Scenario #1 – Using a Deer Decoy During the second rut

If Hansen is hunting an area where he has seen evidence of a second rut, he will still hunt the food sources and opts to use a whitetail buck and doe decoy combination like he does during the primary rut, but he will decrease his calling techniques.

“My whole mantra, especially in the late season, is I want to be completely invisible,” said Hansen. I don’t want deer to see me, hear me or smell me. It’s not like during the rut where you can get away with some mistakes.

“My first preference is to set the decoy up where it is pretty visible, and you can see the deer when he first sees the decoys. Usually a buck’s body language will tell you, ‘ok, he’s mad and does not want that other buck here’ and you don’t have to do anything.

“But sometimes, they might look at it and start feeding, and that is when I will use a couple of grunts. When they hear that grunt, they are going to snap their head up to look. In next few seconds that follow, I can tell a lot from their body language.  If they start laying their ears back or licking their noses a lot, I can tell they are agitated. On the other hand, if he doesn’t respond I am probably not going to grunt anymore. And if he does respond, I am not going to grunt anymore because he is going to come in to the decoy.”

The combination of hunting pressure and the mild aggressiveness of the second rut causes Hansen to reduce his calling.

“I am not going to call them very much in the late season because you never know what a buck may do this time of year,” said Hansen. “He could be thinking “I heard that before and the next thing I heard was an arrow flying over my back. I am out of here.”

This is the first situation Hansen finds a decoy useful. Next week, we will post part II, and Hansen will explain how he uses decoy when there is no signs of a second rut. Until then, Follow Hansen’s late season decoy hunts here, and see if he can beat the “buck curse” with help from Montana Decoy.