John's Journal...


Fool Them With Decoys, Scents and Antlers

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Some people perform their best under pressure. When the last day of deer season and your last opportunity to hunt a trophy buck arrives, you must have the same dedication, poise and firm belief in your strategy as a star football player does in fourth quarter to bag your buck of a lifetime.

Steve Stoltz of Oakville, Missouri, is an avid deer hunter who takes trophy bucks each season. “If you’ve scouted all Click to enlargeseason, you should have a good idea where the biggest buck on any property must bed,” Stoltz says. “On the last day of the season, get as close to that bedding area as you can, and fool him. To learn where the biggest buck holds, I look for rubs on big trees in thick cover. Once I locate the regions where big bucks travel, I come from downwind and move close to those rubs. I place a buck decoy close to thick cover. Then I walk back downwind and set out two types of scents/lures - a doe-in heat lure and a dominant buck urine - to pull a big buck coming in downwind to my decoy. I want a buck to smell and confirm what his ears and his eyes tell him.

”I stand close to the decoy and rattle. I use a buck decoy because when the trophy buck emerges from thick cover, I want him to think the decoy Click to enlargeis a buck invading his territory. A buck decoy pulls a buck out of thick cover quicker than a doe decoy, especially when you use rattling antlers. For safety purposes, use this tactic only when you hunt from a tree stand, and wear as much hunter orange as possible. As soon as the buck can see out of the thick cover, he’ll spot the decoy.”

Stoltz doesn’t utilize the light tickling of antlers many hunters employ when they rattle. He begins with loud crashing sounds resembling a full-blown buck battle. Stoltz wants the antlers to sound loud and aggressive to get an instinctive response from the buck holding in the thick cover. Stoltz triggers this reaction move by the buck much like a bass fisherman triggers a reaction strike from a bass. Stoltz expects an instant reaction to the sound of the rattling antlers causing the trophy buck to break from thick cover and run into the opening looking for a Click to enlargerival before the buck can think about what he has done. “I rattle continuously for a minute or so at first light,” Stoltz reports. “I then wait 5 or 10 minutes and give a light rattling sequence.” According to Stoltz, before you begin your second rattling sequence, look over your area intensely, because many times the buck may stand close. You don’t want him to spot you moving. Don’t start your second rattling sequence until you can’t see the buck, or more importantly, the buck can’t spot you.

”I rattle lightly for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes and then stop,” Stoltz mentions. ”Then I wait 30 minutes before beginning the entire sequence once more.” If by mid-morning Stoltz hasn’t rattled up a buck, he’ll meet a friend and make two-man drives using one hunter as a driver and the other as a stander in thick-cover areas until the day’s end. However, the rattling, decoying, buck-lure tactic consistently produces big bucks for Stoltz at the end of the season in several different states.


Check back each day this week for more about FOURTH AND 40 BUCKS...

Day 1 - Bucks At the End of the Season
Day 2 - Grunt and Run
Day 3 - More Grunt and Run with Bob Walker
Day 4 - Fool Them With Decoys, Scents and Antlers
Day 5 - Continue to Push


Entry 278, Day 4