Be Smart about Using Decoys to Attract Big Bucks

Use a dominant buck deke only if you're after a giant, as it's apt to scare off smaller bucks.

1 Use a Subdominant Buck
Doe decoys tend to attract does, which can hang around long enough to bust you. A subdominant buck decoy, however, tends to attract larger bucks looking to assert their dominance.

EXCEPTION:To specifically target a giant buck, you may need to use a dominant deke that presents a challenge worthy of the bruiser's attention. Also, using a lone doe decoy or adding one to your buck setup can work well during the rut.

2 Find an Opening
Keep your decoy in the open so bucks can spot it easily. Decoys placed in dense cover can surprise and spook an approaching buck. Instead, be sure to give him the opportunity to assess his challenger and become irritated.

EXCEPTION: When the place where you want to set up is thicker than you'd like and there's no obvious alternative, use two (or more) fakes placed well apart to give approaching deer a better chance to spot one of them.

3 Put It 15 Yards Upwind
Interested bucks will approach a fake and circle tightly to get downwind, putting them only about 10 or 12 yards from your stand'an easy chip shot. Sometimes a buck will be convinced visually and won't bother to circle for a sniff. Rather, he'll posture out in front or to the side of your fake. This setup puts him within range, too.

EXCEPTION: Pressured late-season deer are almost certain to circle wider and wider, in which case they may get downwind of your stand. That's when I put the decoy 20 or more yards upwind and off to one side.

4 Eliminate Odor
You've seen what dogs do when they meet a new pup on the block. Deer are the same. Your deke is going to get a thorough sniffing. So it's critical to eliminate (or at least mitigate) any human scent you leave on the fake as you carry it in, for example, or exhaust fumes it picked up in your truck bed. Before getting into my stand, I spray my decoy, head to tail, with scent-eliminating spray.

EXCEPTION: Human odor is bad, but deer scent can seal the deal on a buck that needs one more cue to commit. Spray urine or buck lure on the ground near the deke or hang a scent wick nearby to bring him those last few steps.