Pros and Cons of Using Predator Decoys

Debate the pros and cons of predator decoys as you review your past fur season. Your conclusion will determine if you need a bigger predator hunting pack!

Pros and Cons of Using Predator Decoys

If you're going over your predator hunting gear, don't forget to use fresh batteries and have spares in your pack just in case something crazy happens in the field. (Photo: Mark Kayser)

The predator decoy market is soundly here to stay as it occupies prime shelf space in sporting goods stores across North America. You can purchase decoys in prey or predator configuration. Some companies, like FoxPro and ICOtec, include decoys built into their electronic callers. The remote allows you to change sounds, mix sounds and activate the decoy movement on demand.

It sounds too good to be true. It is. As with all innovations there is good with the bad. Just ask any employee laid off due to robotic modernizations. Here are some of the pros and cons of using a decoy on an upcoming predator hunt.

Pros of Predator Decoys

First and foremost, a decoy adds attraction to the sounds you’ve chosen to use in your setup. Just like your dog runs after a bouncing tennis ball or a flinging Frisbee, a dancing feather or bobbing bunny have the ability to energize, and speed up a predator’s response. Get ready. A coyote could charge right in or a bobcat could pounce. Even your whistle or shout may not be enough to stop a determined, and mesmerized critter.

Attraction is great, but even better for you is the distraction. When a decoy works it captures the entire attention of the predator. All eyes are on the tantalizing teaser and that takes the attention off of you. That’s your green light to adjust your body position for a more stable shot, swing your barrel to another shooting lane or even pick up a shotgun sitting in your lap if the shot is closer than expected. Distraction is good. 

Whether you’re hunting in dense or open cover, a decoy puts predators where you want them. As long as the decoy is in a prominent and visible setting it will act as a magnet. The predator may go in for the kill or circle for inspection, but you can bet if the magic is working the predator will be where you want it for a shot.

Finally, a decoy creates reality. It’s no secret that predators have more hunting pressure on them than ever before so when they arrive to the sounds of your calls the decoy completes the story. They’ve heard a sound and now see its creator flopping in a field. Even when they swing for downwind scent confirmation you should have an opening for success.

Cons of Predator Decoys

There’s really no ugly with using a decoy, but toting another contraption around can cause a few cons to surface from time to time.

Begin with the addition of more gear in the field. The days of slipping a call in your pocket and slinging a rifle over your shoulder have gone the way of the dodo bird. Along with your shooting sticks, rangefinder, electronic caller and folding seat, you have to fit a decoy into your pack. Toting 25 pounds of extra hunting gear on a morning predator hunt is about as commonplace as shopping at Costco.

As long as you are stopping at Costco, resupply with AA batteries. It’s as sure as seeing “no trespassing” signs on your way to your hunting area that your motorized decoy or caller will fail to fire. Some of you will follow the Boy Scout motto and be prepared with spare batteries. Others of you will cuss and return home when robo bunny fails to bounce. All of that banging and jarring in your pack and from ruts in the road could also cause electronic circuitry to fail to fire. More technology equals more headaches. Again, be prepared.

Despite your attention to detail and reality, some experienced predators will smell a rat when they spy your decoy. Educated predators may initially approach a prey in distress sound with apprehension and turn at the sound of a questionable-looking, flailing creature. You may also opt to turn on the decoy late in the set to spur a predator response. The sudden flurry of unexpected activity could also raise red flags.

Lastly, placing a remote caller or decoy out in front of your setup position exposes you visually and leaves a scent trail. This could ruin your setup before you even turn on the decoy or blow it later if a predator crosses your footsteps. Depending on the setting you might be able to use terrain to stay out of sight to place your caller, but predators with balcony positions could still see your moves. To erase human scent utilize a liberal dose of scent-eliminating products.

Debate the pros and cons of predator decoys as you review your past fur season. Your conclusion will determine if you need a bigger predator hunting pack or not … ha!

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