Decoys in December
Most bowhunters think of decoys as tools used during the rut. But a decoy can also help you fill a tag in the late season as well. You just have to think about them differently.
“If you’re going to bow hunt during December, you’ll need all of the help you can get,” said Tony Peterson, host of the Hunt For Real podcast. “An underutilized strategy for me has been to use a confidence decoy on a food source. This works for both does and bucks, and can be an excellent way to draw relaxed deer into shooting range, which is preferred during the late-season when they are often wound pretty tight.”
Tony is a serious bowhunter who hits the late season hard in some pretty brutal temps. And he consistently finds success even on hard-hunted public ground.
“Late-season is all about food sources, and the larger the food source, the harder it will be to get a deer within easy bow range,” Peterson said. “Does and bucks will accept a feeding or relaxed decoy, and they often feed in the direction of the fake. This can be the perfect strategy for concentrating activity in one corner of the buffet."
Decoys are also more visible in the late season with most of the foliage gone. Consider a decoy even if you’re hunting in the woods off the food source. And if you’re hunting in the South, a honey locust tree or a late dropping oak can be a big draw.
So which whitetail decoy should you use? The AC Plot Pack or the Deer Rump are top choices for late-season hunting. Stay away from the rut-based poses of The Freshman Buck or Estrus Betty this time of year.
Deer are super alert later in the season, so pay careful attention to wind direction, and do your best to keep the decoy scent free. Set the decoy up a little past your setup, so you have a shot before the deer get right on top of it. Deer could feed near a decoy but may not come right to it. Remember, the decoy is there to tell them everything is OK and indicate food nearby.
Another non-traditional decoy tactic is to purposely cause the deer to shy away from an area. Set up a KOJO coyote decoy to help push the deer toward your end of the field. Deer may move away from a lone coyote but not leave the field.
Deploying a spot and stalk strategy can be tough with little-to-no cover, but if you bring the cover with you in the form of a Big Red Moo Cow, you may be surprised how close you can get to whitetails accustomed to feeding near cattle.
Late season hunting can be tough, but adding some new, non-traditional tactics to your plan can tip the odds in your favor.
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