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Deer-Decoy Tactics for Hunting Whitetails Through the Rut

Rut Crash Course: How to use decoys to draw big bucks within range.

It's clear that using decoys — whether they’re two- or three-dimensional models — can bring an entirely new (and effective) dynamic to your deer hunting.

That includes during the rut season, when the right decoy at the right place and time makes all the difference.


In the above episode of Crash Course, "Decoy Strategies During the Rut," host Mark Kayser breaks down how to use deer decoys effectively from mid-October into December.


2D Vs. 3D

Both styles have their pros, but also cons, Kayser said.

2D models, such as the one featured in the video from Montana Decoy Company, looks exactly like a deer because it's a photograph of a real deer. They’re lightweight to carry, and easy to pack and deploy, too.

The negative could be that since it's two-dimensional, a buck might lose sight of it from different angles. As a buck walks around the flat decoy, it could be spooked. Also, 2D decoys can get a little shaky when the wind picks up.

3D models, like the Flambeau Boss Buck, are not quite as realistic as 2Ds, but a buck will see it from all directions.

But 3D deer decoys can be bulky to move, so stashing them in the woods in advance is a smart approach.


Decoys During Rut

Most decoys will allow you to "change its sex" by removing/adding antlers, allowing you to change the gender of the decoy to correspond with what's going on in a buck's mind.

In the pre-rut and early rut (late October-early November), a young buck decoy is what Kayser recommends. Bucks aren't ready to breed yet, but they're full of adrenaline and testosterone and very territorial. They're in a fighting mood and looking for other males.

Transform the decoy into a doe as the rut comes on and bucks are looking to hook up. In the post rut (late November into December), a doe decoy also is best as bucks are looking for that one last fling.


Deer Decoy Setups

Kayser likes his decoy setups to be in timber, in little openings where deer will see them from 100, maybe even down to 50 yards. No matter where you set up, keep the wind directuion in mind.

"I don't like a deer, a buck, to see my decoy for too long," he said. "I'm not a huge fan of setting them on the edge of the field and having a deer walk all the way across that food plot or corn field, because the longer they look at a decoy that's not moving, they could get a little bit paranoid and spooky."

Learn more about deer hunting with decoys in the accompanying video.

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