This was sent to me by my good friend Tom McCormick down in Iowa. We have exchanged many Emails about a lot of different topics. When it comes to whitetail deer hunting, this man flat out knows his stuff! Below is an Email that he sent to me about decoying deer.
Enjoy... Decoying Deer Tommy, I wanted to send you information on my decoy "strategies". First some background info.I have been using a decoy for 17 years now. I started off simply using a Delta 3-D target (with good success!). I have tried to read everything I can on the subject and have attended EVERY seminar on decoying at the Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois deer classics. I'm not doing to go into great detail on the "why's" of doing things a certain way.just trust me and do it! Best decoys: Carry-Lite and Montana Buck. ALWAYS use them as a buck. If you use the doe decoy, often other does will stomp, snort and blow everything out of the woods. I have NEVER shot a buck over a doe decoy, but I have shot at least 6-7 does over a doe decoy (two in one afternoon back in 1998). I have used only a buck for the last ten years, with no negative results. It was about 50/50 when using the doe with positive vs negative reactions.
I have experimented A LOT with the various urine based scents on the market and using them with the decoy. Bottom line.don't waste your money. When getting your new decoy, wash it very well with scent free soap and let it sit outside for a few days. Using rubber gloves, give it a "mud-bath" two or three times and simply wash off the mud with the hose. After a few days spray it down two or three times with a scent killer spray. When I transport the decoy I wrap the main body with a large plastic garbage bag so that I NEVER touch it with my bare hands. I keep the bag around the main body of the decoy when I carry it into the woods and take it off and put in my backpack when setting up. The Carry-Lite is a real pain to set-up, however, once its set up it stays that way always. It is next to impossible to take your Carry-Lite into the field and put it together. It is very time consuming and noisy to do so. I put it together and leave it assembled all the time. I never use it as a doe, so I glued the antlers in place. You WILL LOSE the ears and tail carrying into the woods. I always remove the ears and tail and carry them with my foot stakes in my cloth bowcase. I have a little mesh bag I store the ears and tail in and the stakes fit well in a "double" scent free athletic sock bundle. Keeps everything quiet that way. I carry the decoy over my shoulder with a blaze orange vest over his head and neck so I don't get shot.
I thought the Montana decoy was a "joke" when I first saw them. After several years of my friends using them I gave one a try. On my very first hunt, a 150 class buck came into it. I have been sold ever since. I use the Carry-Lite on most hunts due to the "full-body" look. On long walks I use the Montana. The Montana will smell "new" when you get it. Let the sun bake it. I let it sit outside for a few days and spray it down with no scent spray. I store it in cedar chips so it has a cedar smell to it instead of a "cloth smell". Always use gloves when handling the decoys.
My Montana folds up nicely and slips into my cloth bowcase with my bow. I use scent free tube socks to store the stakes inside the case.
Most "EXPERTS" don't use decoys until November. I start early, due to experimentation over the years. I shot a 157inch buck on October 12th that wanted to KILL the decoy. Most early season encounters are friendly, such as "who is this new guy". In November, however, it gets personal.they want to destroy the thing! Set-up: Set the decoy UPWIND from your stand and have it face directly at you. I set mine EXACTLY at 20 yards so the buck with circle down-wind of him to face him head-on. This gives me a 10-15 yard shot. They come into the decoy at around a 45 degree angle, never directly "head-on". If you remove the antlers from one side, they will attack the "weak-side". My Carry-Lite has been knocked over at least 6 times over the years! I have shot three bucks that jumped and turned and came back to fight the decoy again with blood pouring out of them, not knowing that they had been arrowed. One of those I shot a second time because I thought I must have missed! Rattling: I only rattled in two bucks during a 10 year period. I simply quit doing it because I was convinced rattling "didn't work". I now use a rattle bag with the decoy and have had OK success. Morning seems to be the best time and the decoy will give the buck a "visual" to bring him the "rest of the way". Grunting: I use a Rod Benson grunt call made in Michigan. I have called in over 50 bucks with that call and use it a lot. The use of the decoy really brings them in close with the grunt call. Did I give you a grunt call when you were at the Clinton wrestling camp? Set-up: Most hunters use a decoy in the open fields. It works the best when deer can see it from a distance. I use it in the deep woods also. Just as long as it doesn't startle them when coming down the trail. VERY IMPORTANT: Tail position.you can't change it on the Montana, but you can adjust it on the Cary-Lite. Have the tail positioned at a 90 degree angle to the body (pointing straight back from the deer). I have used real deer tails and have used white plastic strips on the tail to produce "movement" in the wind. Just use the tail that comes with it and don't bother with other options. The use of tail movement was "big" several years ago, but most experts are now recommending no movement. It seem to drive the buck "nuts" when the decoy doesn't move. You will be amazed how many deer don't see your decoy. That's when grunting will help. I have friends who tie fish line to a bush by the decoy and tug on it if the buck doesn't see it. The movement of the bush and noise causes the buck to look. Ground blinds: The deer will never pay attention to you in the Double Bull when you have a decoy placed 20 yards upwind. Summary: My 2nd, 4th and 5th biggest bucks were all shot over a decoy. They add a ton of fun to your hunts just by observing the reactions of the deer that see them. It can be a REAL PAIN to lug the Carry-Lite into the woods at times. But when they work all the effort pays off. I have had friends drop arrows, have stands "creak" at the wrong time, miss the deer with the first shot and still get the buck due to their "fixation" on the decoy. From October 10th to January 13th, 99% of my hunts are with a decoy!!!! I have at least 10 friends who now use them with the great success. Please pass the above info on to Tom Sr. and Danny. Good hunting Tommy! Tom McCormick