If you have ever had trouble finding deer or keeping them near your blind or tree stand long enough to get a clean shot, then you should try hunting with a decoy to give you that extra help with drawing them in and keeping them in your sights.
These are a handy contraption to have when you are in full hunting mode.
Here, we discuss what to look for in a model and review several of the best options on the market.
Comparison Chart of the Best Deer Decoys
Best Overall and Best Flambeau Decoy
Montana Decoy Miss Muley
Montana Decoy Dream Team Buck and Doe
Best for the Money
TINK'S Miss November Doe
Best Inflatable Deer Decoy
Best Primos Deer Decoy
What Are Deer Decoys Used For?
Now that you are starting to look for a deer decoy to hunt with, you need to understand what they can do to help you on your hunting trips.
The first thing that you are using it for is to draw deer in and get their attention focused on the imposter and not on you. For this, you need to make sure your product is realistic looking and doesn’t have your scent all over it because if a deer smells you it will not approach.
Once your decoy has drawn a deer in, it needs to be able to keep the deer interested. You should try to find one that has a tail that can move in the breeze and if its head moves as well, that’s even better. You can also see if you can attach scent packets to further mask your smell and entice the animal.
Positioning for a Clean Shot
Depending on whether it is a doe or buck you need to be able to position it so that it is upwind of you and keeps the deer you are looking to shoot in between you and the decoy so that you can set up a shot without being noticed by the deer.
How to Choose the Perfect Deer Decoy
With understanding how decoys work, you also need to know what to look for in the best deer product that will fit with your hunting style and abilities.
When looking for what to buy, you should be looking for one that is as realistic as possible. The more realistic it looks, whether it has a moving tail, head, or synthetic hair, and how it smells will help with drawing in deer.
Ease of Use
Another thing to consider is how easy is it to set up and whether it is very cumbersome to carry around when you are looking for a place to set it in the woods. You can check and see if it comes with a carrying strap or folds in any way to make transport easier.
Stability and Durability
A very important thing to consider is how stable it will be when set up. Some have stakes or stands to hold them still but, some do not. Another thing is how durable it is. Most products are fairly expensive, so you want one that is built well and will last many hunting seasons.
Review of the Best Deer Decoys
Now that you have an idea of what you should look for in a deer decoy, it is time to look through some of the more popular and better-quality models on the market.
Best Overall and Best Flambeau Decoy:
This decoy is made with a sturdy, hard plastic that can withstand harsh elements while you are in the field or forests hunting. It dismantles so that you don’t have to pack around a full model with you before you find somewhere to set up.
It also is made so that its rear leg accepts MAD’s MD-519 Invisi-Growl electronic deer call to help get attention and keep deer interested. This product works well to draw in both bucks and does, so that you can have a pick of what it is you are aiming for.
The Flambeau Outdoor option is an excellent choice for both pros and novices when it comes to hunting. The good quality material means that it will last for many seasons and in all elements as well. You can also remove the head and legs to make carrying it to your site easier, however, the only con is that putting the head and legs back on is loud and can possibly scare off any nearby deer.
On the other hand, though, once it is set up, you can use the deer call in the rear leg to gain interest and draw the deer back in. Overall, this is a great product that will serve you well for many hunting seasons and pull in a good variety of bucks and does alike.
This one is probably one of the easiest to use. Made from an HD photo of a mule deer, this folds up easily and can be stored in your pack while you are going to your hunting site without adding excess weight.
It is compatible to use with the Quickstand and that gives it an easy setup once you are at your site. Once up, you can easily move this item around to find the best position to draw in a deer and give you a clean shot once the deer is interested in the decoy.
Miss Muley is a great option for someone who is looking for an option that is easy to pack and set up in a matter of seconds and will not take up much room or be too cumbersome to take through tougher areas. The benefit of folding up and being incredibly easy to set up is excellent in dense forests.
Although in open, windy areas, it becomes less reliable as it can be blown over in the wind and appears less realistic when being blown about. Overall Miss Muley is a great choice for someone who focuses on hunting in dense forests and needs something easy to carry around and set up in seconds to draw in a deer.
Best for the Money:
Dream Team Buck and Doe
This set of a doe and a buck works well to draw in both types of deer and hold their interest. You can easily set them up as a pair or they can work just as well if you use them separately.
Easy to fold and pack with you, they don’t take up much space or add much weight, so it is simple to carry them to wherever you want to hunt. When you use them together you can position them in many different ways to help draw in the largest amount of deer that you can.
The Dream Team Buck and Doe are a great option for someone who is looking for easy products to move around and set up, as well as draw in a good variety of bucks and does. Using the buck and doe together can help you get the attention of a lot of deer because if two deer are in one place, then it appears to be a safe area. Using them together you can also position them so that you can get the best shot possible when a deer comes to investigate them.
The main downside to these is that their support poles are not the strongest and they can be blown around in windy areas, making them less realistic to other deer. However, they will work great in wooded areas where it is less windy. So if you enjoy hunting in forests, these are a great choice for you.
Best Inflatable Deer Decoy:
TINK’S Miss November Doe
This doe decoy is made with a quality heavy gauge rubber liner so that it will last some time and is unlikely to get torn. It also has a lightweight tail that moves in the breeze to help convince curious deer that it is real.
Another perk is that you can position it to be standing or bedding down so it helps with creating interest in different environments easily. It is easy to blow up and doesn’t have any noisy parts that can scare away deer in the surrounding areas while you are setting up.
The TINK’S Miss November is excellent for anyone who is looking for an easy-to-use decoy that can work well in both wooded areas and open fields. This is good quality to ensure that it will last you many seasons and can hold up to the elements. It is also very convenient to pack around with you as it can be deflated and folded up to fit in your pack easily.
The only downside is that it can be difficult to secure in areas of high wind which can pose challenges when hunting in a field. Overall, TINK’S Miss November Doe is a great choice for its durability and ease-of-use that make it convenient to have on long hunting trips.
Best Primos Deer Decoy:
This decoy is made from quality hard plastic, so that it will last you quite a while. It can be taken apart to make transporting it to and from your hunting site much easier as the head and legs can be pushed into the body cavity.
It also has removable antlers so that you can change the appearance while it is set up or just to make transporting it easier. To help draw in deer, this is very realistic looking and the head and tail swivel in a breeze to make it seem lifelike.
The Primos Scarface is a great product for someone who is looking for a very realistic option with a moving head and tail. A great feature is that the appearance can be altered by removing or replacing the antlers.
It is also not the hardest model to transport as the head and legs can be pushed into the body cavity so that they are not getting stuck on tree branches or bushes while walking to your hunting site.
The main downside is that the metal stake is not as stable or sturdy as it could be, and it can fall over and move weirdly because of this. However, if you have a good area where the product can be braced by bushes or trees it is not a big problem. Overall, this is an excellent option and should pose no problem drawing in deer.
Types of Deer Decoys
After looking at these different options, you will have noticed some main differences that separate these decoys into a few main types.
3D decoys are some of the most realistic products out there, since they are normally full body and full-sized. This also makes them more cumbersome to haul around with you to your hunting site. If you prefer to hunt from a tree stand, waiting in one place, a 3D model could be best for you because after you set it up, you can just stay there until the best shot presents itself.
Silhouettes are much easier to transport than the 3D styles. They can be folded up and stored in your pack and then quickly set up when you have found a location that you want to stay at for a bit to draw in some deer. They are less realistic looking and if you use them in a very windy location, that may scare away any interested deer.
Something to look for is whether it has any parts that move convincingly as a live deer would. For instance, many have lightweight tails that sway and move in a breeze and this can help draw in deer because it seems more realistic.
Now that you have learned to look for a realistic option with moving parts or one that folds easily for transport, you are ready to select the perfect deer product for your hunting needs. Regardless of whether based out of a tree stand or ground blind, there is an option out there for your specific use. Happy hunting!
People Also Ask
While this article has covered a lot of information about deer decoys, you still may have some unanswered questions. Hopefully, this section can clear up some possible confusion you may have regarding the use of these while hunting.
Which Way Do You Face a Deer Decoy?
This depends on whether you are trying to hunt a buck or a doe and which decoy you are using. Say you are using a buck decoy, always place it upwind of you and face it toward yourself. This will give you the best chance to shoot a buck because bucks face each other head-on and this places you behind the deer you are planning to shoot.
When Should You Use a Deer Decoy?
Depending on where you hunt, there may be specific regulations regarding the use of decoys. However, a good time to use them is during the rut season as they can then draw in competing bucks and interested does. The deer will be focused on the decoy either to challenge or attract it, leaving you unnoticed preparing your shot.
Bow hunters are a patient lot. We sit up in trees and wait days and sometimes weeks before drawing and releasing an arrow toward the vitals of an unsuspecting deer. We’re maniacal about wind and avoid certain areas because our scent may offend our quarry. The short effective range of our weapons add another element of torture. While gun deer hunters in most states, especially those east of the Mississippi, can ethically shoot most deer within view, bow hunters often watch their would be targets helplessly as they wander off without providing a shot opportunity.
Many hunters set up along established trails within heavy cover to spare themselves from some of this torture. But in fields and even in heavy cover, deer are unpredictable. Hunters manipulate trails by cutting trees or fences, make mock scrapes, and use bait or other scents to lure deer closer to their stand. In some cases, those things may not be legal or practical. Another great way to close the distance is by using a deer decoy.
Keep in mind a deer decoy isn’t going to bring bucks in from miles away. The decoy can give you an edge in a situation where a deer may hang up out of range. The best place to use a decoy is in transition plots and meadows. You want to place the decoy in an area that is visible to cruising bucks. However, wide open fields are not as effective as smaller plots. Mature bucks are usually not going to move into wide fields during daylight hours, decoy or no decoy. Decoys can also be successfully used in wooded areas. I like open areas at the bottom of ridgelines in hardwood forests. Bucks travel near the top of ridgelines cruising for does. A doe decoy in a small clearing will essentially allow you to hunt both ridges while sitting at the bottom. This a great evening strategy since thermals will keep scent at the bottom of the ridge.
One of the biggest question marks when it comes to hunting deer with decoys is whether to use a doe or buck decoy. The answer is… it depends. During early season and pre-rut a buck decoy is usually the way to go. Bucks are still establishing a hierarchy and most mature bucks have a hard time walking away from an opportunity to establish his dominance. However, a buck decoy can intimidate younger deer. So if you’re not picky about the deer you shoot a doe decoy may give you a higher rate of success. This is especially true during the rut or post rut. By this time the pecking order is already established and even the most dominant buck is probably not going to go out of his way to fight another buck when he’s focused on breeding does. Some hunters take the guess work out of it and use both a buck and a doe decoy. The idea here is to not only challenge a buck’s dominance, but create competition for a doe.
How you place the decoy also depends on the sex. Bucks generally approach other bucks head on. To avoid being seen by the bucks you’re hunting, place buck decoys quartering toward you upwind from your position. If he’s focused on the decoy, the buck will be looking away from you. Place doe decoys quartering away from you. If you’re hunting with the wind in your face(and you should be), a buck will approach the doe from downwind or behind her. This will put him between you and the decoy.
Decoys can be a big help in closing the distance to a deer. However, they are not without their disadvantages. The big one is their size. I carry enough when walking into the woods. A big, bulky decoy is the last thing I need to add to my pile of gear. Montana Decoys and Renzo’s have very effective, realistic silhouette decoys. These are lightweight and they breakdown for easy transport. Some guys just are not confident in a silhouette. For those looking for a light, three dimensional decoy, Tink’s has a very nice inflatable decoy. The rubber body is wrapped in a photographic cloth shell so it doesn’t have the plastic sheen some inflatable decoys have. The main issue with silhouettes and inflatable decoys is wind. A stiff breeze can blow them all over. But even heavy foam decoys can be a detriment in windy conditions.
Another thing to consider is scent. Hunters can be downright compulsive when it comes to scent elimination on their bodies and then pull a decoy right out of the box before hunting. Let your decoy air out well before the season starts. While spraying yourself down with odor eliminator before heading into the woods, don’t forget the decoy. If you like to use estrous scents, a few squirts on the backside of your decoy is also a good idea.
Deer decoys are not a magic pill for deer hunting success. But if you’re having a hard time getting deer within range, a decoy may be enough to close the deal.
Using Deer Decoys All Season Long
Very few hunters use deer decoys. They can be a pain to carry around. Some are big and bulky. Others require you to inflate them. Some are just silhouettes. The wind can make them a hassle. There are plenty of reasons to not use a deer decoy. But they can also be incredibly effective at bringing deer, especially bucks, into range. A lot of hunters like to use decoys during the rut and pre-rut phases of the season. But decoys kill deer all season long. You just have to use them differently based on the calendar.
During the early season bucks are breaking from bachelor groups and beginning to establish a hierarchy. They have most likely spent the summer in the same area and haven’t seen a lot of interlopers in their territory. This isn’t the time of year to use a giant decoy though. Place a decoy resembling a young buck 20 yards away from a field edge. Face the decoy toward a trail bucks use to enter the field. The goal is for the decoy to challenge your target buck as he prepares to fill his belly.
My favorite spot for pre-rut hunting is funnels and decoys can make funnels even more productive. I do a lot of grunting during the pre-rut and one problem often faced by hunters who like to call is that deer come in looking for the deer that grunted at them. When they see nothing, they eventually move off. When deer get really aggressive having a decoy in a funnel can literally bring them right in on a string. If you’re hunting a funnel in thick cover I would leave the decoy home though. Bucks don’t like to be surprised. You should only use a decoy in an open field or in a wide open, mature woods.
When does begin to go into estrous it can be tough to get bucks to walk under your stand. This is often known as the lockdown period of the rut. Bucks find a hot doe and will stick to her side until a breeding opportunity presents itself. If you can create a scenario mimicking an easy chance to breed, you can get bucks to come to you. Couple a laying doe with a standing young buck decoy and place them in a very visible location at a field edge. Again, a grunt or snort-wheeze can increase the effectiveness of your decoy set.
After breeding season ends, bucks are looking to recuperate and prepare for winter. Food is a priority. If you have a feeding decoy, now is a great time to use it. The idea is to create a sense of security for bucks who may be patrolling the woods. By this time of year, foliage is at a minimum so bucks can see the decoy (and you) from great distances.
There isn’t a bad time of year to use deer decoys. I’ll admit to leaving mine at home more than a few times. But if I’m seeing deer without getting them to close the distance, a decoy can make a big difference.