“Buck or doe — which decoy works the best?” This is a question I get asked a lot. The answer is easy — “both of them work!”
The very best decoy set-up is a buck with a doe. At this time of the year, it’s November here in the Midwest, a buck, which does not have a doe, cannot stand it when he spots a buck getting lucky. This is especially true when the lucky buck has a smaller rack than the lonesome buck. This is why, unless you are only after the very largest bucks, you don’t want your decoy wearing anything more than a modest 8-point rack.
If the ground cover where you place the decoy is short, such as alfalfa stubble, I will take the legs off of a Flambeau or Carry-Lite decoy and position it as if it were lying on the ground. A few steps away, I’ll position the buck decoy. I like to have the buck decoy looking at the doe decoy.
If the cover is higher, such as corn stubble or CRP, I’ll leave the legs on the doe and position both decoys in the standing position.
For bowhunting purposes, both decoys should be deployed upwind and within 20 yards of the stand or ground blind.
This is a deadly one-two punch during the rut.
OK, Really Now — Should I Use A Buck Or Doe Decoy?
For those of you not inclined to use TWO decoys — most of the time, I will say I use one decoy and most of the time, it is a buck decoy. However, I know a number of very good bowhunters who decoy a lot of deer and prefer a doe decoy. Either will do a good job of bringing in a buck.
The reason I prefer a buck decoy over a doe decoy is that doe decoys tend to attract other does. This would be fine if the real does would behave themselves. But they do not. Eventually, that fussy old mama deer gets suspicious of the decoy. Then she starts stomping her feet and snorting and raising all kinds of hell. If a buck happens along, do you think he is just going to saunter on in to that mess? Not hardly.
With a buck decoy, rarely will you have a doe pay the decoy a visit. During the rut, does try to stay away from those pesky bucks. But other bucks come into buck decoys just fine. I’ll take antlers on my deer decoy, thank you.
For a fine selection of Decoys, click here.
Gary Clancy writes a weekly column for sportsmansguide.com. Gary has hunted whitetail deer in 20 different states and provinces. He has harvested many record-book animals, and presented hunting seminars from Tennessee to Wisconsin. Gary also has authored or co-authored six hunting books, four on whitetail hunting.