I want to start by saying I’m not an expert when it comes to using a decoy, but I’ve had good success using one in Michigan. I started using a decoy in 2012 only taking what I learned from TV and magazine articles. Wouldn’t you know it, I tripped into a good 3.5 year old buck the first time out.
I won’t lie, I learned a lot that night. I learned that you can almost get away with murder in the tree when a buck is locked on to the decoy. I also learned to not put the decoy too close to your tree. More often than not, bucks will approach the decoy head on, and when they do you don’t want them sitting at the base of your tree presenting you with no shot. But, it all worked out.
Fast forward a bit I will tell you that I have learned the majority of what I now know about using a decoy just by trial and error experience. I want to list out some of the pros and cons that I’ve experienced first hand.
1. First up and like I mentioned earlier, you can get away with a lot when these bucks are locked in on your decoy. Their focus is so narrowed in it often works to your advantage for any mishaps you might normally get busted for.
2. Second, when your hunting field edges and deer can see your decoy from a distance, calling to a buck can become really effective. Allowing them to catch sight of a decoy peaks interest and lets their little ego take over for a second.
3. Lastly, buck behavior. you can learn a ton about your herd and bucks in general when they get into your setup and you just watch bucks do bucky things. This part is a lot of fun and I have seen some really cool behavior.
1. Know your area. The cats out of the bag, Michigan doesn’t have a lot of mature deer so to get a buck to react to a decoy, you can’t have the decoy look like a 130+ inch deer.
2. I feel like you have to have a bullet proof setup. You don’t want an area where you’re going to see a ton of does because typically does enter destination food sources and staging areas before bucks and that could be all it takes to blow a hunt.
Using a decoy is a blast and you can learn a lot. But in my opinion there’s also a lot of room for error. So, my biggest suggestion is just to get some experience using one and have fun with it. You will have ups and downs along the way but at the end of the day you’re still hunting.