Best Deer Decoys

Updated October 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
Bottom Line
Pros
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

15 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
101 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

Buying guide for best deer decoys

Last Updated October 2019

For the enthusiast, the deer hunting season never seems long enough, so you want to do whatever you can to maximize your success rate in the limited time available. Deer decoys are a proven way to do this. There are a number of different versions designed to meet the needs of hunters who stalk and those who wait patiently in a blind or hide.

In order to offer you the best buying advice possible, BestReviews has combined its own research with expert input to make some recommendations. The deer decoys we've chosen should meet your needs however you hunt.

We've also put together the following deer decoy buyer's guide to give you a broader view of the subject.

Deer decoys can get damaged by amorous bucks. Some manufacturers offer spare sections so you don't need to replace the whole thing.

Key considerations

Type

Broadly speaking, deer decoys fit into two categories: those for the stalker and those for the stationary hunter.

  • Stalker: These decoys are two-dimensional, frequently photographic reproductions of real deer (though not always). Favored by archers, they are often just the deer’s head or the head, neck, and shoulders. These decoys are lightweight, so you can move them around relatively easily, and they come with different attachment options that may include fixings for undergrowth, bipod or tripod, and to the bow itself. This decoy needs to be positioned in cover because the hunter is usually right behind it.

  • Stationary: These decoys can be a doe or buck and two- or three-dimensional. Some are full body – right down to the hooves. Others stop near the top of the leg. They may or may not have some form of ground spike to keep them upright and fixed in place.

  • Archery target: There is a third product that can be used as a decoy: a deer archery target. Although they're designed for practice – they have a high-density section that crossbow bolts and arrows can't penetrate – it is possible to use them as a deer decoy. though they can be quite heavy and may not be as easy to move around as you’d like. (We should point out that the reverse is not the case: deer decoys should never be used as archery targets.)
EXPERT TIP

If you're looking for a deer decoy for stalking, its weight is very important. You might have to carry it for hours.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

How portable is your deer decoy? If you're carrying it in the back of a pickup, no problem. If it's going in the trunk of a sedan, you'll need to check.


Staff  | BestReviews

Deer decoy features

Ease of transport is important, both in your vehicle and out in the country. Some two-dimensional decoys fold down quite small and some don't. In breezy conditions, the latter can be difficult to manage.

Three-dimensional decoys usually come apart. On good ones, the head and legs fit inside the main body when disassembled, leaving you with just one thing to carry.

There are a couple of inflatable decoys. These are very compact when not in use and ready to use quickly and quietly, but the possibility of punctures means they haven’t proven very popular.

Ease of assembly is vital for full-size decoys. If you're struggling to put it together, you'll make a lot of noise. It pays to check owner feedback. Look online for some opinions of people who have put the decoy to practical use in the field.

Durability is a major consideration. You're making a considerable investment, so you want it to last more than one season. You expect products that will be used outdoors to be waterproof, but not all are, and some are poorly constructed (again, check reviews by decoy users).

Realistic features on deer decoys include joints, allowing what is claimed to be “natural” movement of the head and/or neck. Others have flocking or a suede-like covering to look more natural and prevent unnatural reflections off the surface. Still others have soft tails that wag in the breeze. Whether any of these features have a great deal of practical impact is open to debate. There's a good chance a buck in rut isn't too concerned about the finer details!

Other features include areas for the insertion of scent pads, which a few of the high-end deer decoys have. There are also decoys that can accommodate remote deer calls, but caution is needed with these because some states ban the use of electronic decoy devices.

DID YOU KNOW?

The term “archery target” can be a bit confusing. Some are designed just for practice, but others make perfectly good deer decoys, too.

Deer decoy prices

The majority of the deer decoys we looked at fall within a fairly narrow price range of around $60 to $200.

Two-dimensional: Not surprisingly, the cheapest deer decoys are 2D models – both stalker and stationary types – that cost from $60 to around $100.

Three-dimensional: Depending on features, 3D deer decoys can cost as much as $200, though in our opinion there doesn't seem to be any real benefit to spending more than $150.

Tips

  • Position your stationary deer decoy downwind of where you expect your target to be.

  • Don’t partially conceal a full-size deer decoy. You might think it makes the decoy look more natural, but it doesn't. You're just reducing your chances of catching a real deer's attention. Open country gives your full-size decoy the best chance of being seen – and approached – by a buck, but try to keep it within comfortable shooting range of your blind. Around 15 yards is recommended.

  • Never handle your deer decoy with bare hands. A hint of human scent and your target will be gone. Even decoys that include scent pads probably won't cover it. Wear rubber gloves rather than cloth or leather to handle the decoy.

  • Stay away from areas where does feed. You'll just spook them and, in turn, any bucks.

  • Have a good look at the area in advance. Think about how you're going to approach and how you’re going to set up your deer decoy and cause the least disturbance. There's an old adage: if you fail to plan, you're planning to fail.

  • Be patient. Don't rush to change a decoy's position until you've given it ample opportunity. One day you'll get nothing and the next you might get the biggest buck you ever saw coming to challenge the interloper.

Other products we considered

If you want to stalk your deer rather than have them come to you, the Ultimate Predator Stalker Decoy series offers good concealment, a variety of useful features, and different models for specific prey. Many hunters recommend using a doe and buck pairing for highest success rates and the Montana Decoy Dream Team Buck and Doe are designed to fill that need. They're quick and easy to set up and have the quality you expect from the brand. Looking to add that extra bit of realism? How about the Primos Waggin' Whitetail Deer Tail. It wags back and forth at two speeds, providing a furry flag to tempt your target. It’s one for the serious hunter, though, because you also need to buy the Primo deer decoy to hang it on!

It might not look 100% realistic to you, but don't let that put you off. A buck in rut has a very different view of things!

FAQ

Q.  Which is better: a doe or a buck decoy?

A. Many hunters like one of each, a buck and and a doe, the principle being that a buck will be interested in chasing off one and mating with the other, so for the hunter it's a win/win situation.

If you're just buying one deer decoy, a buck is the more popular choice. Does will attract bucks during the rut, of course, but they may also attract other does. Sometimes the ladies don't play well together, which can actually put a buck off.

A buck decoy is always a challenge to another buck, and the further into rut it gets, the more aggressive – and determined to have a confrontation – your target is going to seem.

Q. Do deer decoys always improve the chances of attracting a buck?

A. No. Though deer form social groups, most of the time it's for protection. Bucks of all ages will tolerate each other. In fact, deer are pretty good at ignoring each other most of the time. But all this changes when they’re in rut. Bucks are establishing their territory, gathering their does, and looking to mate. Other bucks are extremely unwelcome! Decoys are generally effective between early November and early December (though this might vary depending on the weather). Watch the deer. Their behavior will tell you when the action is starting. If you put out a deer decoy at other times, the only thing you might attract is a predator.

Q. Are deer decoys legal in all states?

A. No. Each state has its own laws for decoys and deer calls. For example, Tennessee allows both. Pennsylvania allows both as long as the call is not electronic. Rhode Island doesn't allow either. Never make assumptions. Always check before booking that hunting trip.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bob
    Bob
    Writer
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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