Pre-Rut to Post-Rut: The Best Decoy Set-Ups and Why They Work
Some hunters tend to stay away from decoys, but they can actually be really helpful if you know how to set them up. Here are the most effective set-ups for your decoys for all four stages of the hunting season and why they work so well:
Pre-Rut – Subdominant Buck Who Is Feeding
The reason this one works is because bucks tend to be more social during the early season. So, a subdominant buck who is feeding will not be seen as a threat. In the later part of the pre-rut, this same decoy can be used to draw a larger buck in that is looking to assert his dominance. For this to work, you’ll need your small decoy in a field, open-wooded funnel or food plot, and you’ll want to stick to light rattling and contact grunts while you hunt in the afternoon.
The Chase – Standing Doe and Buck
Subdominant bucks could trigger a violent response, so a buck and doe who are simply standing in another buck’s territory is enough to reel him in. The buck decoy will need to be placed behind the doe decoy. Make sure that you stay ready because the buck is going to come. It’s not if, it’s when.
Peak Rut – Bedded Doe and Standing Buck
The bedded doe and standing buck decoy is a natural, by-the-book set-up for this phase. You need to find an area that is open enough, but that is close to a thick cover for breeding. You’ll want to lure a trophy buck by grunts, rattling antlers as well as estrous doe bleats. If you have it, make sure to place estrous doe and dominant buck urine in the area.
Post-Rut – Just the Doe
Most female deer will have already bred, but there are going to be a select few that are still waiting. Late-season bucks who have survived, who are general the world-class giants, are going to be searching extremely hard for some action at the last minute. A feeding or standing doe deer decoy on a food source will be enough to attract the buck, but you’ll want to add in some estrous doe urine for good measure. Add in an estrous doe bleat to really bring in the big guns. Don’t fall asleep because when the buck arrives, it’s going to be a big one and you won’t want to miss your chance for your biggest kill of the season.