Decoys are devices meant to distract animals’ attention and draw them nearer to the hunter. Used for centuries, timing is crucial to proper decoy use. With correct positioning and timing, a decoy can bring game right into reach. If used improperly or at the wrong time, they can scare targets away. The Hunting-License.org team offers the following tips for using decoys to help capture some of the most commonly hunted animals in the United States: deer, ducks and turkeys.
Tips for Using Deer Decoys
Try to set up a deer decoy along field edges or on the rise of a natural meadow, so that any approaching deer can easily see it. The farther away the deer can spot the decoy, the more likely it is to wander closer to check it out. Decoys can also work in wooded areas, but you run the risk of scaring the deer if they stumble across it unexpectedly. When placing a deer decoy among trees, try to choose a spot with semi-open surrounding areas to create a line of vision for approaching deer. The experts at Hunting-License.org advise using a buck decoy instead of a doe, as they tend to invite more investigation from bucks and does alike.
A decoy with head or tail movement engages deer, so the expense of a battery-operated decoy might be worth it. However, they are not legal for use in all areas. You can purchase synthetic tails for deer decoys that move with the slightest breeze, or use fishing line to wiggle a white cloth near the decoy’s rump. Make sure to cover up your scent, though, or the deer will run away. Use a commercial odor neutralizer to remove your scent from the decoy, then apply deer scent to the ground around it.
Noise is also a surefire way to draw deer near. Call, rattle, grunt or bleat and do not be shy about your volume. The louder you are, the more likely a buck is to investigate the source of the sound and spot your decoy.
Tips for Using Duck Decoys
While a single decoy can work for deer hunting, duck hunting requires the use of dozens of decoys to lure in these waterfowl. Flocks flying overhead need to be able to see enough decoys to want to land in that area. The Hunting-License.org team suggests placing a spread of four dozen or more decoys in your chosen spot, and add wing spinners to some of them to create motion that ducks will see from afar.
Realism is also key in luring ducks. Choose decoys with detailed plumage, in a variety of body postures including feeding, resting and sleeping positions. This most closely mimics the appearance of a live flock, which attracts more ducks.
Tips for Using Turkey Decoys
Turkey hunters use three types of decoys: toms, jakes and hens. Toms should be part of every turkey decoy collection, but avoid using a full-strutting decoy unless you know there is a dominant tom nearby. Otherwise, it can scare away more passive toms. Jakes are younger, less-intimidating male turkeys who may be ready to breed biologically. Setting up a jake decoy near a hen can attract a big tom who wants to show dominance over the young jake. Hen decoys are best to use during the spring mating season and can be purchased in different postures, including feeding, standing or their submissive breeding position.
Always place turkey decoys in open areas, and position them so that they appear to be leaving the scene for cover. Our team at Hunting-License.org recommends placing decoys 15 to 20 yards away from your setup, to maximize turkeys wandering within shotgun range before spotting you. Turkeys have incredibly sharp vision, so camouflaging yourself with clothing, leaves and brush is an important part of making turkey decoys effective. Their keen vision also means that it is wise to invest in the most realistic-looking decoys you can afford.