Potts Dances with Decoys for Big Buck Success
Saying that Stan Potts knows a thing or two about deer hunting is like saying that Texans love football and barbecue. In other words, that's an obvious understatement.
With numerous record book bucks to his credit over the years – including four bruisers that score above the magical 200-inch mark – Potts has probably forgot more about the sport than most deer hunters will ever know.
As a co-host and host of several outdoor television shows, including Outdoor Channel's Mathews Dominant Bucks, Potts is in the woods chasing deer from late summer through mid-winter every year.
Along the way, he has fine tuned the skills necessary to repeatedly go into a spot and tag a good buck for the video cameras. One of those skills is using a deer decoy, especially as the pre-rut of late October begins to turn into the rut-crazed frenzy during the month of November.
"I'm a firm believer in decoying," Potts has told me. "But unlike some other hunters, I always use a buck decoy, not a doe."
Why is that? Potts is hoping to elicit a school-yard like reaction from a testosterone crazed buck that is passing by, only to discover that there's an unknown antlered suitor now in his territory. A suitor that is apparently trying to cut in on the real big buck's romantic advances in this particular corner of the woods.
When that happens, all bets can be off and the potential looms for an antlered turf war ... with Potts waiting in the wings with his Mathews' compound bow at full draw.
Want to chase the big boys in your own neck of the woods with this decoy trick carefully tucked up your sleeve?
Then you're in luck, because Potts has shared some of his decoy hunting expertise that will answer a number of questions that those unfamiliar with the hunting tactic might have.
Questions like: Where is the best spot to set up a decoy?
"I like to set the buck decoy up in an open field, in an open pasture, or along the edge of a food source," said the Illinois-based Potts.
As he does so, Potts also is paying attention to the wind direction since a bruiser buck will always – ALWAYS – try to keep the wind in his favor as he approaches a decoy.
In addition to keeping the wind in his favor, Potts also will use the nearby cover to his advantage.
"When you set your decoy up, be sure to set it out at least 20 yards in front of you," he said.
"You want to give a buck plenty of room between the edge of the woods and your decoy, so that the buck can get between the two of you (the decoy and a hunter's stand position)."
Not only is it important where a hunter sets up a decoy in relation to a stand location, it's also important how that decoy is positioned in such a spot.
"You want to always set it (the decoy) up where he’s looking into the woods," said Potts.
"If a buck decoy – sitting out there all by himself – appears to be looking out across a wide open field, then the buck that is approaching doesn't see what the decoy is looking at."
That could cause the inbound buck to get nervous and break off his approach before reaching a hunter's shooting range.
"But if that decoy is quartering towards your position – and looking back into the timber behind you – then the real buck will think that the decoy is looking at something in the timber that the real buck can’t see for himself," said Potts.
And that's what a hunter wants; a real buck that is miffed at the mere presence of a decoy. While still being a bit unnerved at what exactly that decoy might be looking at in the woods.
Do such tactics work?
Potts says, yes, and references a number of big buck encounters that he has had down through the years, many of them recorded on video.
"I killed (one such) buck on Hunter Specialties' Primetime 7 DVD," said Potts. "He was a big 9-pointer that I killed using a decoy.
"It was warm and on the 9th of November," he added. "That big buck came out about 4:30 in the afternoon. When he came out to cruise across the cornfield and saw my decoy, he just couldn't stand it."
The buck came into Potts' hunting set-up with a chip on his shoulder and gave the bowhunter the close-range shot opportunity – and the television footage – that he was hoping for.
Put Potts' favored tactic of duping a big racked whitetail with a buck decoy into practice this month and you just might find yourself in a spot that the Outdoor Channel TV personality so often finds himself in while hunting.
And that's tagging a bruiser buck on the ground while reaching for your mobile phone to place a call to your favorite taxidermist.