Deer decoys can be a pain to transport into the woods and have to be used correctly, but it can be a worthwhile strategy for the whitetail rut.

Most bowhunters won’t head into the field without a grunt call and rattle bag in the fall, but deer decoys are not nearly as popular. While calls and attractants can easily fit inside a pack with other archery gear, a decoy is big and bulky. It can be tough to haul yet another thing into the woods, but during the rut, it just might be worth the hassle.

Deer decoys have the potential to spook deer if you don’t do everything right. And even when you do, they won’t work every single time. But during the wonderful time of year when even the biggest bucks are making mistakes in the middle of the day, they have the potential to draw in a monster.

Paired with the right scents and sounds at the right time, a doe or small buck decoy could bring Mr. November in fast.

It’s important to deploy the corresponding scent close by — but not directly on — your decoy. This will help minimize your human scent near the decoy while making the trap that much more realistic and irresistible.

Strategic calling can also play a major role in the success of this tactic. Stick to sounds that match your decoy too — if you’re using a doe decoy, sound like a doe and ditch the rattle bag. But be sure not to call or rattle when once a deer spots the decoy.

Placement of the decoy is critical as well. Consider wind direction and where you expect deer to approach in relation to your treestand. You want to position your decoy so you’re set up for the perfect shot should a buck go for the bait.

If it all comes together, be ready! An amped up buck can show up in range in seconds, so be prepared to make a perfect shot at any time.

Even if your decoy draws in a deer that isn’t a shooter, it can still be a blast to watch a buck respond. Observing deer behavior, even when it doesn’t result in a kill, is always entertaining and makes for a successful day in the field.