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Unique Tactics for Rattling and Decoying

Bill Pellegrino took the antlers off this full-mount decoy to lure his buck into bow range.

I carry a unique set of rattling antlers that always seems to draw a little harassment from my hunting buddies -- until they try them. I use a heavy, 5-point whitetail antler along with a stubby, 3-point elk antler. I like the combination because I can really make a ton of noise when I want to. Being able to project the sound of battle into far-reaching places has worked well for me in the past, and it did again on this trip. Bill poked some fun at me when he first saw the odd-looking pair, but after watching a buck run toward my position one noisy, windblown afternoon, he was looking to replace his own smallish rattling rack.

Now that I taught Bill a thing or two about rattling, it was his turn to unveil a new, secret weapon. Just prior to leaving for Iowa, Bill's taxidermist completed a full-body doe mount Bill planned to use as a decoy. He then had another friend weld a lightweight frame beneath the decoy so it could be firmly planted in the ground. A spindly pair of detachable antlers was also furnished so the decoy could be used as a doe or a small buck. On the drive to Iowa, we named the decoy Sally, which was shortened to Sal with the antlers installed.

Now, I've seen many mass-produced decoys work fantastically, but this ultra-realistic decoy worked better than any I've ever seen! One afternoon, Bill and I set up on opposite ends of a five-acre alfalfa field. I could see his position from my perch, and I watched him place Sal (antlers installed) approximately 20 yards in front of the giant oak that hosted his treestand. As the evening passed, I observed in amazement as every deer that entered that field marched straight over to investigate Bill's new decoy.

BOWHUNTING Associate Publisher Danny Farris has found lots of success with this unusual set of rattling antlers, which features one whitetail antler and one elk antler. Farris says this allows him to really make a racket and send the sounds of a simulated buck fight a long way -- something that can be particularly helpful on windy days.

Does and bucks alike paraded in front of his stand, and incredibly, none of them spooked. One young buck even approached Sal head-to-head and began licking his antlers! I told Bill having that decoy was like having his own deer magnet. I don't know if the secret is in the realistic-looking eyes or in the decoy being covered with actual deer hair. Whatever it was, it was awesome.

Shortly after arriving home, I took the full-body cape of my Iowa doe to my taxidermist and told him I wanted to have a decoy made. After witnessing Bill's success with his mounted decoy, the cost would be a small sacrifice for such an effective whitetail-hunting weapon.

Later, I discovered Primos Hunting Calls has introduced Harry -- a new, hair-on deer decoy that retails for far less than what I'm paying for a full-body doe mount. Although the decoy doesn't use real deer hair, it certainly looks very realistic. So, anyone who is interested might consider giving the Primos version a try.


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