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Ask Winke
Decoying Tips

  • Rod from CO asks:
    Hey Bill....we hunt Northwest Kansas where there is a lot of open ground adjacent to our hunting stands....making it even more important to choose our entrance/exit routes carefully. Since it is nearly impossible to cross open fields to some of the best stand locations without alerting the deer.... we have tossed around the idea of building some kind of cow decoy we could hide inside while going to/from our stands. First, do you think this is a plausible way to keep deer at ease? Second, do you have any ideas on how to build such a thing? One of our ideas is to build a frame around a large wheeled game cart in the shape of a cow, cover it with a cow looking (with correct coloring) cloth, push/pull it with our bow/equipment in the game cart. We've tossed around other ideas of how to do it but want to keep it fairly simple and easy to operate. We of course have the other challenge of "storing" it while we are in our stands and keeping things scent free as possible. Are w
    Winke Responds:
    Rod, I would be tempted to try a silhoutte first. Those can work really well and would be extremely easy to build and store while on stand. It is all an experiment anyway, better to do the experiment with something cheap. Also, if the local farmer uses a tractor around the farm often, you might be able to slip in on the back of the tractor if you can get someone to drive you in. I have done that before when sneaking to stands near areas where deer bed. Finally, if you can get something planted along the edge of the field (like Frigid Forage Plot Screen) that you can sneak behind, that would also work. Of course the local farmer may not give up the ground for that. I like the creativity. Keep thinking. You will come up with the perfect solution. Good luck. (2-26-14)
  • Tim from MI asks:
    I have been wanting to purchase a whitetail deer decoy for the last couple of season but my most recent bowhunting trip near Lovilia, IA made me wish I would have brought one with me. I had several encounters with good bucks but unfortunately I was hunting a lot of angus ground and fences were between me and the bucks. I feel like a decoy could have brought them the final distance. What models/brands have you and your staff used and would recommend? Love your show and feel the same way about the deer herd. Dramatic difference this season from just 4 years ago. I'll still be buying pts and hope that in another 3-4 it might bounce back. Still beats MI's deer herd!
    Winke Responds:
    Tim, We have used the Featherlite and Flambeau brands. Both seem to work fine. Not sure if there is a big difference as I am not a decoy hunter, but both of these brands have produced success for guys from the office. Good luck. (1-28-14)
  • Bill from AL asks:
    Bill, when Scott P. was setting up his decoy in the last video, I saw that he had bare hands and did not spray any scent eliminator before walking to his stand. I was taught always avoid handling a decoy with bare hands for the obvious reason of leaving fresh human scent. Your opinion? Thanks, Bill
    Winke Responds:
    Bill, I agree with you. It is a mistake to handle a decoy with bare hands. I don't even handle my outerwear with bare hands. The odor will definitely linger for a while. Good luck. (11-13-13)
  • Abdullah from MO asks:
    What kind of decoy would you use, buck or do? and which brand do you command?
    Winke Responds:
    Abdullah, The experts tell me the buck is better because the does stay away from it. If you use a doe decoy there is a chance that does will come to check it out and spook. Good luck. (11-13-13)
  • Robert from IL asks:
    Have you ever used a decoy or any else on the pro staff? I would be very interested if you or someone else on the prostaff could maybe use one on a hunt and explain how it works.
    Winke Responds:
    Robert, I don't use them because I am too lazy to carry it and hunting over it it doesn't trip my trigger like it does some guys. I guess you either love them or hate them. I am a hater, more or less. Greg Clements uses them a lot and has had some very good success with them over the years. I will ask him to do a short piece next time he out with one so we have that segment to add to a coming episode. Good luck.
  • Drew from WI asks:
    Will decoying still be effective if the doe to buck ratio is high? (5 does:1 buck)
    Winke Responds:
    Drew, I think so, just don't expect it to work miracles. The bucks that come out to open areas need something to home in on if you are trying to pull them within bow range. If you are not hunting open areas, the decoy will not be of much use. Basically, I see it as a way to grab the attention of bucks that would otherwise pass out of bow range in open areas. Good luck. (10-26-13)
  • chris from IA asks:
    Bill, Do you try rattling and grunting over a decoy? I bough a decoy and am wanting to try this when the rut gets closer. If you do, how often do you recommend rattling sequences and do you some form of a scent on the decoy? Thanks, Chris Osier P.S. I have become friends with jared Mills and he seems like a good kid.
    Winke Responds:
    Chris, I don't but I know many people who do and have good success. I just don't like to bother with the decoy. It is a personal thing not based on whether or not I think it will work. I think rattling every 20 to 30 minutes is fine. I would try to keep the decoy as clean as possible and I would only apply the scent to ground or some other thing near the decoy and not to the decoy itself. Yes, Jared is a great guy. Good luck. (10-17-13)
  • Dennis from CO asks:
    I am hunting the eastern plains of Colorado and have harvested some very nice deer out there in the past. I picked up a new lease this year, and there is alot more open country on this lease than my previous one. I picked up a Big Boss decoy from Cabelas a couple of days ago but have never hunted with a decoy before. I was wondering if you could give me some tips on how and where to set it up so that I can get the most out it. Love the show and always look forward to it, very informative and entertaining. Any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated. Dennis Hurrell Colorado Outdoor Adventures 719-232-0085 coloadventures@hotmail.com www.colorado-adventures.com
    Winke Responds:
    Dennis, Thanks for the support. I have hunted eastern Colorado a ton over the years, mostly for mule deer, but I did kill a 190 inch whitetail out there in 2000. It offers some awesome hunting. I don't have a ton of experience hunting with decoys, but I know lots of guys that make them work well. The key to hunting with a decoy (from the guys that do it all the time) is to make sure it is visible. They really are good when hunting areas where a buck might step to the edge oa field and just stand and look to see what is happening there. Usually a quick grunt call is all you need to get his interest. I would also set up realizing that bucks like to circle a decoy on the downwind side so make sure you have that in mind. I believe the best bet is to face the decoy toward you at a 45 degree angle in the direction the deer is likely to come from so he swings around your side to face the decoy. Good luck. (10-16-13)
  • Joe from IA asks:
    Can u use a decoy during shotgun season in Iowa,I can't find anywhere were it says u cant
    Winke Responds:
    Joe, I don't know for sure. You had better call your local game warden. You always have to be very, very careful when you have a decoy out (or carrying it) during the firearms season. Good luck. (12-3-12)
  • Brian from IA asks:
    Watch and read your show and think it's great. I can only hunt a area that throws most of your logic out, no creeks to walk into a stand and no real food due to all of the land being crp. Very small area of trees close to the neighbors fence line. The surronding ground is awesome with great management and a ton of sanctuary but I cannot pull them out. Should I use a decoy? I usually only hunt a North wind but run out of days to hunt because of how I have to enter the stand. By the way in this area we there have been a dozen dead deer found from EHD with the last being the biggest buck I have on camera!
    Winke Responds:
    Brian, You can try that. I assume it may work a bit, but I have seen people try that and the deer get used to the calling pretty fast and realize it is not a real buck or buck fight. Some farms just aren't good hunting. I know you don't want to hear that, but some farms just don't set up well. Rather than beat your head against this one, I would spend some serious time trying to find a better area to hunt. Dang it. I hate that the EHD is killing the nice bucks for you. I don't think we lost many here, fortunately. Good luck. (10-29-12)
  • Jeff from WI asks:
    Hey Bill, I have a question about my decoy. I had a friend suggest to leave one antler off, making a half rack he would less likely scare of a deer of similar size. Or give the incoming animal a real sense of dominance! I think that makes alot of sense and wanted to get your opinions on that or any other tips. Thanks alot!
    Winke Responds:
    Jeff, That makes some sense. I haven't done enough decoying to actually experience with that, but it does make some sense. Good luck. (10-19-12)
  • Steven from ME asks:
    I saw some light sparring of bucks last weekend (Oct 6 and 7). Is it too soon to try a buck decoy this weekend (Oct 13 and 14)?
    Winke Responds:
    Steven, No, I think that will work, at least as a curiosity thing if nothing else. I don't think I would do it if you have a nice buck on a pattern, (why take the chance) but if you are just going out to play the field it is worth a try. Good luck. (10-10-12)
  • Brandon from IN asks:
    Hi Bill, First off I would like to thank you and your team for everything you guys do. I can not tell you how much I have learned from your videos. Your site is by far my favorite, keep up the great work. I am relatively new to deer hunting. I live and hunt in Indiana. This year I leased some land, it is primarily cornfield like most land in Indiana. There is a narrow strip of woods on the western border of the property, 30yds at its widest point. The woods runs north and south along the entire lease. West of the woods lies the Wabash River making it impossible to move west out of the woods. My question is how do I move into my tree stand if I have to pass through the cornfield to get to the woods? Once the corn is down I will be in clear view in day light, and I will be pushing them off in the early morning. any ideas on these Indiana cornfields? Thank You for your help, Brandon Sullivan
    Winke Responds:
    Brandon, Can you use the river to access your stands? That would be my first choice. The other option is to wait until first light to go to the stand to be sure the field is clear and then sneak in. This is just a tough situation. Personally, I would figure something out with the river even if it isn't overly convenient. It will definitely make the spot hunt fresh much longer. Good luck. (8-15-12)
  • dave from NY asks:
    New York archery season normally has opened on or about the 17th of October. New legislation will see the 2012 opener on Oct 1st. I enjoy hunting over a buck decoy and do it quite often. I have never hunted whitetails as early as Oct 1st. Is the idea of utilizing a decoy in an evening food plot area a good or bad idea at this time of year? I am asking this knowing you don't even start your hunting until very late October. Your thoughts ?
    Winke Responds:
    Dave, I think it would be a poor to neutral strategy that early. I think the bucks are still on the tail end of feeding patterns before becoming much more nocturnal for a few weeks so you really need to scout them and hunt them based on these patterns and I would not complicate things with a decoy at that time that they may or may not like. Good luck. Happy New Year. (12-30-11)
  • Keith from PA asks:
    Is it better to use the decoy in the morning or evening hunt? Or isn't there really a big difference in one or the other?
    Winke Responds:
    Keith, I wouldn't say there is really any difference in the way the deer react to it. The only difference being whether it is practical to use one in the morning. If you are hunting in cover at that time, the decoy may actually spook deer and isn't really a benefit because it won't help to bring them in from a distance (visibility limited). If you are hunting open ground in the morning it is less likely that you will see deer, unless the spot is remote or the field small. So, afternoons are likely the best fit for a decoy unless you happen to be hunting an open area in the morning. Good luck. (11-15-11)
  • Kanon from WI asks:
    I am onto a nice 8 pt. that I lured in last night with a combination of rattling, grunts and a random doe bleat. I was hunting out of ground blind and everything was going as planned until the buck decided to cross downwind from me and picked up my scent. I'm hunting a point woods where it's difficult to avoid being detected based on where I believe the deer are coming so to combat that, I thought of getting a decoy to pull him to the area I want him to be. Never having hunted with one before, my question to you is what are some things I should be thinking about when setting up a decoy in relation to my stand position? PS I have a decent trail cam pick of the deer if you'd like to see him.
    Winke Responds:
    Kanon, Sounds like a good plan. Creative thinking is a lot of fun. Place it about 20 to 25 yards upwind, facing more or less (quartering) toward your stand. Usually, the bucks will come in and head toward the head of the decoy so he should be close to the blind looking away when you have the shot. I think that will be a bunch of fun. Good luck. (11-5-11)
  • Austin from MN asks:
    Hello Winke, I have been bow hunting all season on a friends property of about 150 acres in Minnesota. Ive seen about 10 does but only 1 buck since september on weekends. I just ordered a decoy that can act as a doe or buck. When do you think i should bring it out with me and use it? what are some ways to use it at its best? when do you think the rut will finally be here? Thanks for everything, Austin Soine
    Winke Responds:
    Austin, I would use it as a buck. That is what I hear from the guys who do a lot of decoying. I don't carry them because I am too lazy. But I can see situations when it could really help - like when hunting near any kind of good sized open ground where the buck might be able to see the decoy and come across the opening to check it out. I don't think I would use it in areas limited visibility because I think it is more likely to spook them at close range (surprise them) than benefit you. Good luck. (10-28-11)
  • Dennis from IL asks:
    How is the best way way to use and setup a doe decoy,and best time of season.
    Winke Responds:
    Dennis, I don't have tons of experience with decoying, but the guys who are good at it tell me that the buck decoy is actually better. However, I would just set up the doe decoy the same way you would set up the buck decoy - about 20 yards upwind of your stand. I am not sure the best direction to have her pointing. With a buck decoy the buck will generally circle around and try to square off with the front of the decoy, so have it pointed roughly in you direction, maybe not straight at you but quarrtering to the side. With the doe I am not sure, it may not matter. Best time is the rut, for sure. Starting in a few days until the end of November. Good luck.
  • Nick from WI asks:
    Hey Bill, Just had a quick question about my first time using a decoy for this bowhunting season. How would you position the decoy from your bow stand? Obviously I know not to position it downwind of me, but should the Decoy be facing away from you or in which direction? And at what yardage would you recommend it being placed at? Thank you
    Winke Responds:
    Nick, I would place it at 20 yards and have it facing more or less in your direction. A buck will often (but not always) circle to face the decoy when approaching putting him 15 yards broadside. Good luck.
  • Joe from MN asks:
    I watched your show on using decoys, which had great information. But, one thing wasn't addressed,How do you scent your decoy?
    Winke Responds:
    Joe, I know some guys prefer a tarsal scent or mock scrape lure. We tend to favor zero scent versus using something specific. For that reason it is best to spray with a clear (some leave residue) scent eliminator (We are working with the Xecute line this year) and handle carefully so as not to get foreign odors on the decoy. Try not to touch with bare hands though I saw that Brandon Simpson was actually handling his and shot a good buck over it. He must have sprayed it down because that buck actually put his nose right on the decoy but didn't leave. Good luck.
  • Don from MO asks:
    When is the best time to use a decoy? i live in missouri
    Winke Responds:
    Dan, I would say anytime between about October 25 and the end of November. I am not so sure I would use in the gun season there, however. But in theory, it would still be effective if the deer are left to their natural movement patterns clear through November.
  • Seth from IN asks:
    hey bill, i was just wanting to know when the best time is to use a buck decoy and whens the best time to use a doe decoy
    Winke Responds:
    Seth, I wish I was a better expert on decoying. I just have never messed with them much, to my detriment I believe. There have been situations when the decoy likely would have produced shots on big deer if I had just had one in front of my tree. Most of the guys that do it alot use buck decoys all the time. I guess that is the best answer. A buck will challenge another buck, before, during and after the rut. So you may as well just stick with a buck decoy for starters. Good luck.
  • Seth from IN asks:
    Hey Bill, I know you don't decoy much, but in Indiana I hunt in the early November shotgun season and I was wondering. Does decoying work during the rut? And if it does should I use a buck or a doe?
    Winke Responds:
    Seth, That is when it works best. Most experienced decoy hunters favor the buck decoy. Just be very careful if you hunt with a decoy during the gun season that you don't carry it around where another hunter might mistake it for a live deer.
  • Matt from OK asks:
    I have been wanting to rattel for a long time. But i don't have a buck decoy. I'm hunting a long strip of weat. I was wondering if a decoy was really nessesary.
    Winke Responds:
    Matt, Decoy is nice in open areas, but not necessary. As long as you have some fairly thick cover around the bucks will assume they simply can't see the battle back in the brush and keep coming. Good luck.
  • Dylan from MO asks:
    Love the show keep up the good work.I was wondering if a decoy would work during late season and also how much longer will calling work? And i picked up a piece of really good new land with crops and lots of timber. Would you be in woods or on the crops in late november/early december?
    Winke Responds:
    Dylan, I think I would skip the decoy late season. It could cause more harm than good. I would be hunting near the food and would be very careful on morning hunts not to cause too much impact. Personally, I don't hunt mornings in the late season. I hunt only evening feeding patterns and leave the deer alone in the timber. Calling may still work, but likely it is losing effectiveness each day as the deer move into feeding patterns now.
  • Bunk from MI asks:
    Hi Bill, From what we've seen here in Eaton Co. Michigan, it should be a very productive gun season next week. I have never used a doe decoy/estrous scent combo but we think that it would draw out the bucks. Have you had any luck with decoys in this type situation? By the way, you've got a terrific site. I'm always anxiously awaiting the next one to read. Thanks for a quality site.
    Winke Responds:
    Bunk, Thanks for your support. I have not used decoys much but the pro staff seems to have use them very effectively this year. They work best in open areas where the bucks can see them a ways off when they are cruising. I think it is definitely worth using. I have a few open spots where I should be using one too. I have asked several decoy experts about using a doe versus a buck and they all said the same thing (use the buck). I can't remember why, but they had a good argument. It has something to do with attracting and spooking does, I think. Keep that in mind. Good luck.
  • Dean from MN asks:
    Bill, my question is regarding decoy usage. I have decoyed a number of times with mixed results. I've always used 3acre fields or larger. How small of an area would you use a decoy in? I have a 30yd x 300yd opening with a 5ft tall 6 strand barbed wire fence run down the middle. Should I try to decoy in this situation and if so how should I postion the decoy?
    Winke Responds:
    Dean, I think it would work fine in a field this small. Really, it would work fine anywhere that the deer can see the decoy from a distance that is out of range for your bow. Good luck.
  • John from WI asks:
    I am hunting a new farm this rut and i hung a stand in between a deep ditch and a ridge what looks to be a great funnel, but should i use a decoy? The only problem is, it is in the hardwoods but fairly open and I cant get to the ridge due to a fence. Though it seems that the majority of deer traffic goes past my stand which is 20 yds above the ditch but below the ridge 60yds. Do you think I stand a better shot calling a buck crusin the ridge down with a decoy and calls or is it now worth the hassle and risk? Thanks Bill
    Winke Responds:
    John, I would probably not use the decoy unless the deer cruising the ridge hang up out of bow range and look for the calling buck. You run a risk of spooking the close range with the decoy and if you don't need it, I wouldn't use it. Let the deer tell you what you need to do. Good luck, sounds like a great spot.
  • Jake from IL asks:
    Dear bill, do you think using a glendel target buck as a decoy would work? What are your thoughts about decoys? Thanks for your help, Jake
    Winke Responds:
    Jake, It might work. My thought is that it will be too heavy to carry far and is not as realistic as some decoys. I would suggest the Flambeau Boss Buck instead. I like the look of that thing. I am always tempted to start shooting arrows at it, it looks so real. I don't use decoys because I am too lazy to carry them in and out each time. I think under the right conditions, (open field and during the rut) they make good sense. If I was going to use the decoy, that is probably when I would use it and I think I would use a doe decoy just to get the attention of a cruising buck. Good luck.
  • Matt Epps from GA asks:
    Hey Bill I'm going to Missouri October 8th for a bow hunt on some lease land. Do you think that would be too early to use a decoy or should I just hunt a food source? Also what should I do if a smaller buck wants to fight my decoy? How can I keep him from tearing it up or knocking it over? Thanks I love this website.
    Winke Responds:
    Matt, You can shoot him! No, I am just kidding. He likely will just hit it once and then run off when the decoy falls over. It is actually pretty funny to watch. I would say it is a bit early for serious decoying, but maybe you can lure a buck over out of curiosity if you do a bit of light sparring with the antlers and he sees it from across the field. That might work. Mostly, you are just trying to find the places where they are feeding and then get lucky. That is not a great timeframe in my experience, but any time you are hunting you have some hope for success. You sure won't get one sitting at home. Good luck.
  • Mike from KS asks:
    Are you a big fan of decoys? if so How do you get a decoy out of a field edge set after dark without blowing all the deer out? Last but not least do you think the "scent smoker" is a gimic or would you try it thanks a million enjoyed talking to you and your "crew" at the Iowa Deer Classic last year love this site Kudos. Mike Carter
    Winke Responds:
    Mike, That is just it - I don't have a good answer for you. I don't like carrying them and I don't like leaving them out all night or having to come back after dark with the truck or ATV to blow the field and retrieve them. I just don't like messing with it. I often have to go long distances on foot and I am sure not going to drive in ahead of time and drop it off. I know one guy who keeps the decoy wrapped in a camo tarp covered with sticks and debris year around at the base of his tree. He then just sets it up when he comes to hunt, but that is not for me. I am sure they work under the right conditons, I am just too lazy to carry them. I have never tried the Scent Smoker, but I do know a fairly experienced hunter who swears by it. I am not a big scent user of any kind. Sorry I don't have a better answer for you on that. Thanks for your support.
  • David from WI asks:
    I was wondering if you only have 1 deer decoy, What is better to use, the Buck or the Doe decoy?
    Winke Responds:
    David, I get a good number of decoying questions but I don't do a lot of decoying so I don't really know the best answers. I just kind of guess! I would have a buck decoy, I suppose, because that is what most of the experts use. If I cared to carry those things around a bunch I would have a much better answer for you, but I really don't like carrying stuff, so I leave the decoys at home. I don't even like carrying antlers so I rarely rattle. I grunt and snort wheeze a lot. Sorry I couldn't be of more help.
  • KJ from AR asks:
    Bill, My hunting buddy and I are struggling getting a couple of great bucks into bow range. We a re hunting a big soybean/rice field with a seven acre thicket in the middle(bedding area). We are thinking of trying a decoy to lure the bucks to our tree line and I was wondering if you could offer any tips for decoy use and placement? I am new to decoy use and any help would be much appreciated. I will also be trying to get this kill on video, so hopefully we can at least get you some footage or pics!! Thanks!
    Winke Responds:
    KJ, There is no real trick to it. I would make sure it is in a visible location, and have the wind blowing from the decoy to you so when the deer swings downwind of the decoy, he will be right in your pocket. Some guys seem to prefer buck decoys to doe decoys, but I am not sure if it makes a huge difference. Good luck.
  • Brian from TX asks:
    Bill, I've enjoyed watching you on several hunting shows. I'm heading to NE Missouri next week. I've had luck there in the past hunting food sources in the evening. I'm hoping bucks will be chasing by next week. Do you think the rut will be starting by November 1? Also, do you recommend decoying with buck or doe decoys at this time of year?
    Winke Responds:
    Brian, Thanks for your support. I think it will be good timing. Yes, I think they will be chasing by then (as long as it stays cool). I don't use decoys much, but I would go for the doe decoy myself. But I am certainly no expert. Good luck.
  • Levi from IL asks:
    Bill, this year i am going to start useing a decoy i was wondering what scents i should use and how to use them Thank you
    Winke Responds:
    It is debateable on scent use, but the most likely scent would be a mock scrape scent for a buck decoy and a doe estrus scent for doe decoy. The way most people position decoys, the scent may not do much good because when the buck swings downwind of the decoy, he is right in front of the stand for a perfect shot - no need for scent at that point.
  • RYAN from WI asks:
    BILL IS IT BEST TO USE A DOE DECOY OR A BUCK DECOY EARLY IN THE SEASON ?
    Winke Responds:
    Ryan, I have to admit I am not an expert on decoying. I don't do it because I don't like carrying the decoy. Most of the spots I hunt I have to walk a long ways to get to and I just don't want to carry anything. However, if I were to carry a decoy, I think it would likely be a buck early in the season when bucks are sparring and the testosterone is just starting to kick in and make them a bit antsy toward each other. I don't think a doe decoy would carry quite the same degree of attraction as a buck decoy at this time.
  • Dennis from TX asks:
    Bill, your show is the best thing on the internet! My future bride is reconsidering marrying me because she thinks I like your website more than her! haha j/k! Now my question; I have had some success down here in Texas using a decoy, but I have always used doe decoys. Should I invest in a buck decoy for the hunt I booked in Illinois Oct. 31-nov. 4? What are your thoughts on decoying? It doesn't appear that you use them much.
    Winke Responds:
    Dennis, That is funny. I would hate to think we are the cause of marital (or almost marital) strife out there. I appreciate your support. I am too lazy to use decoys. I am kind of a minimalist. I don't carry a pack either. If I can't fit it into my pockets, I don't take it with to the tree. Often I have to walk quite a ways to the tree so carrying the decoy would be a drag. It is more a matter of personal preference than about effectiveness. I think the decoys will be effective and I'm sure they are fun to hunt over. I think the doe would work fine, because during the rut the bucks seem to stand at the edge of openings and just visually survey the opening to see if there are any does out there. I will assume that if they see your decoy they would come to check it out. I would only use a decoy when hunting the edge of an open area where they can see. Back in the timber, I am thinking the decoy might be of much less value since they can't see as far. But remember, I don't use them so you have to take my advice with a grain of salt on this one. Thanks for watching the show and good good luck in IL. Bill