Heads Up Decoy

Heads Up Decoy
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Monday, November 21, 2011

WHAT...am I trying to prove exactly?

Fall Colors from early November

A question I have asked myself multiple times during the KS archery deer season. It was a discussion with a prostaffer as well. What am I trying to prove exactly? After the first week of November, I had a different answer than I do at this moment.

The whitetail template is sitting in a treestand, low impact, stealth, solitude, and  patience...or "time on stand" as it's  been said. From a business perspective, is this the way I need to market my product? Another question along the same lines as the first. I would say with honesty, the treestand at times should be in the arsenal. But as the rut kicks in and dominant mature bucks become more active, one should not confuse "sightings" with "encounters". As I write this I may have found my answer.

Waiting for a buck to cruise a bedding area..decoy ready!

Heads Up Decoy is a decoy to use how you want to use it. I know it works from a stand or ground blind. But  to separate it from the conventional decoys, it must perform in ways that turn "sightings" into "opportunities". In between a sighting and opportunity, there must be a design and complimentary accessories to get you to your point of engagement. Now, I haven't thought of everything, but darn close.

So today(Sunday Nov 20th)...the one year anniversary of the massive 7 point buck in the milo stalks...I reluctantly crawled out of bed hoping that somewhere in the day there would be 30 seconds that would change my season from close calls...into antlers to pose behind and meat in the freezer.

I checked the wind as I do every morning then mull over my options on the drive. It was off to the pasture...yes pasture...my son and I looked at last march. Some of the photos and insights about this pasture can be found at the following blog link. Scouting New Ground...A New Perspective. I was confident in a consistent wind and based on my last hunt in that pasture...confident I would turn up a big whitetail.

A look to the north of the pasture where I took my position
 Low light found me in position and scanning the pasture for movement. It wasn't long before I was able to see a buck in the distance working his way up the fenceline in my general direction. It was not shooting light, but it was enough for me to pick up the movement with my binos. Not being able to truly assess the size of the buck, I decided to move to the ridge closer to his position to get a better look. I found the buck moving off to the east and not worthy of a 1/2 mile pursuit. I felt good about my position and I elected to "hole up". There was a winter wheat field on my north that I was banking on holding a rutting buck and being downwind of the bedding area with plenty of cover, I liked my chances...1/2 mile from any tree that could hold a treestand.

My place of "hiding" the buck came just inside the small far
right upper yucca...30 yards.
  It wasn't long after I made my decision to stay put that I spotted movement...downwind of me of course...which has been the story of the year. But luckily not directly downwind and totally unaware of my presence. I glassed up a shooter buck. My initial thought was 170, but as the planning and assessment and the constant glassing persisted, I really didn't know how big he was other than he was a "no doubter". My plan was to be patient because the buck was in no hurry to be anywhere because he was where he wanted to be and he had company. This buck was here well before shooting light and hardly visible from any tree that might be a place to have a treestand.When I spotted the bedded doe there was no doubt in my mind that I needed to be aggressive. His position was workable, but not ideal...I would need some help from God. I belly crawled 100yds down the slope angling to the west getting as much angle in the wind as I could before I ran out of cover that would conceal my movement.

The wind was light, but consistent so I made the decision that if I was going to get a shot, it was going to be done with the buck decoy in the Heads Up Decoy Bowmount. I displayed the buck decoy, grunted and waited...and waited...and waited. After several minutes of staring him down and after he and the doe bedded and rose twice, I took my eye off them to range some yuccas to my south and to my east. When I returned my attention to the buck and doe, they were gone. Did they spook? Where did they go? I didn't see anything and I scanned the pasture to my east rising from my crouched position. I picked up the doe and was anxiously scanning for the buck because she was RIGHT THERE. In fact, I was scared he was already at 10 yards. Well, he wasn't at 10 yards, but he was coming. I was in the comfort zone. He was angling downwind, bristled up, ears pinned back. I drew my bow and place my pin low on the chest behind the shoulder and loosed the arrow before he reached my scent cone only to watch it pass low of my aiming point. The buck bound off with alittle less hair in his arm pit. At 30 yards from my position laid a pile of white chest hair.
As for me...it's been that kind of year. I've decoyed in more deer to bow range than any year to date. I've had 4 encounters with 4 different shooter bucks. It was only a matter of time before it resulted in a shot. I kept putting myself into the field. Even if I don't tag a buck, I know what I am trying to prove...and that's to continue to give myself opportunities.

I would like to give a shout out to some of the manufactures out there. The type of hunting I have been doing is extremely hard on equipment. My Badlands packs, Hoyt bow, Easton Arrows, Bow Jax stabilizer, Grim Reaper Broadheads, Canon Camera's, and my TruFire Hardcore release...this release is a stalking hunters dream.

My stuff...dekes packed inside.

The season ain't over.
Be mobile...Stay mobile.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


October 10 brought a day off school for Dalton and a day for father and son to take to the field for the first Kansas archery deer hunt of 2011. The plan was to do some early season roadside scouting but the fog had us locked down and we were unable to glass any potential hidey holes.

We changed gears and took a chance we could hang an early morning tree stand in an area we’d been seeing a good whitetail. Things didn’t work out to well. We got the stand up but we also ended up getting soaked and spooking the whitetail buck and watching him bound over the early morning horizon.

As we made it back to the vehicle the fog began to break and we spotted good mule deer buck feeding in a drought stunted milo field. We decided to head back home for a change into dry camo and to wait for the wind to come up a bit. We arrived back at the field about 11 am. After about ½ mile walk to swing downwind we were about 300 yards away from where we believed the buck to be. Luckily enough, the buck stood up to stretch, reposition, and feed a little. We watched the larger buck and a yearly for nearly 30 minutes before they bedded back down.

Having them pinpointed, we began our stalk. As we approached the terrace channel we had seen them enter. I spotted the larger buck bedded on the terrace top, his antlers quite visible in drought strickened headless milo. We used the Mule deer doe Heads Up Decoy and crawled our way to within 20 yards of the larger buck and only 10 yards of the yearling buck.

We got comfortable and positioned as I held the decoy in plain few for the bucks to see. Dalton was positioned just to my left. The plan was for Dalton to draw and I would hold the decoy and bleated with my mouth. Hoping for the buck to stand and look. First try the buck only looked our way and couldn’t see the decoy through the milo. After about 30 minutes and a 2nd and 3rd try and my arms cramping from holding the decoy the 4th try worked. I bleated a bit louder and the buck rose up just enough to see the decoy and was on full alert. He stood and within seconds after seeing the decoy you could tell he had relaxed. Dalton is at full draw, shoots and takes the hair off the bucks back. The buck only runs 10 yards and turns back to look at the decoy quartering away at 30 yards. This time Dalton did not miss the mark and the buck tears off and goes out of site after a 250 yard sprint.

A repeat for Dalton, and another successful stalk with the heads up decoy. I am convinced that after the miss, without the heads up decoy, this buck would have been plum out of the country. In the end patience, remaining calm, and trusting in the decoy was all it took to for Dalton to put an arrow in another fine Kansas Mule Deer.

Submitted by Author KH

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sticker Patch Buck

I am sure there are times when a bowhunter finds himself intrigued with one particular animal not always due to the size of the horns, but something different and related to a personal quest. At least that's where I found myself during the KS antelope season chasing a pronghorn that demonstrated a personality that made him susceptible to the decoy.

Opening morning we watched this buck chase off numerous "toy bucks" when they were mere specs-in-the-distance as  my partner, his son, and I weaved our way down a steep draw in the middle of a recently planted winter wheat field. There was a rise in the field where we could show the decoy closer than this buck apparently needed for a reaction. But as luck would have it, a smaller satellite buck began to get our attention and was approaching our position. We still had 400 yards yet to go before we approached the harem master...if you will...so why not. A goat's a goat out here. This buck was a good distraction and as it turns out allowed me to witness one of the longest charges I have ever seen an antelope buck make.

Several failed decoy attempts at this satellite buck yielded a reaction from our targeted buck that had we not been distracted, my partner's son may have gotten run over. Kent and Dalton ran up a draw trying to head off this smaller buck with decoy in hand. The dominate buck had seen the movement and the flash of the white decoy from....at least 600 yards away and came at a hamstring pullin', ankle breakin' sprint directly at them. Tragically, they had no idea what was happening. I witnessed the event from 200 yards away hoping and praying that Kent would turn around. The buck never gave us another chance in that field as he quickly gathered his harem and headed for the sticker patch across the road where he probably is as I am writing this post.

I went in the sticker patch after this buck on 2 occasions. Although I probably scored some toughness points with my partner, I was unable to get close to this buck. The decoying action that first weekend was good. The second weekend not at all. I was able to harvest a small buck that spent his time annoying the "Sticker Patch Buck" on the last morning in an all-or-nothing move to sit in a feeding area next to the sticker patch. Full disclosure here...I did not use the decoy to harvest this buck, but by gosh that decoy was either in my hand, on my bow, or tucked in my shirt as I crawled all over western Kansas those 6 days and there was no way I wasn't going to get a picture with it. In the pics you may see some differences in the decoy. We were experimenting with different size buck decoys...it's ongoing. Please enjoy some of the images from our hunt. Click on picture to enlarge...then use your back button to return.

Kent takin' care of Dalton's stickers

Kent and Dalton making my birthday dinner. Thanks men.

Beginning of a great day

This buck came in to 55 yard, but crosswind was too high

there's a muley buck in there somewhere

Hoyt Maxxis, Easton FMJ's, Grim Reaper Broadheads

Badlands 2200 packed him out

Next year Sticker Patch Buck!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mission Antelope

Limited resource+limited access=about 5-10% success rate for the Kansas archery antelope hunter. Although blind hunting may increase your odds...(probably not this year with the abundance of water)...and  is a tactic very common and a great way to shoot a pronghorn in the early season pre-rut hunt and even in the height of the rut, it may also be the economical way because in order to locate KS pronghorn you will need to put on the miles with no guarantee of access. The expense of a trip to Wyoming vs a trip to western KS may be a wash. You'll need a few things for KS pronghorn if you choose to hunt from your belly: Gas, maps, luck, gas, and luck.

I was accompanied by my good friend Kent on our scouting trip to locate some goats for the KS early archery season, but today I got a bonus. Kent's son Dalton tagged along. To give you an idea of the driving involved, Dalton was able to get all his AR reading done for the week along with a nap or two as the distance was great and the goats were sparse at best.

Cooped up in the truck all day you get plenty of time to chat. Kent was throwing out some opinions about the Kansas antelope hunt and one statement Kent made that puts things in perspective was "man, if you shoot a goat in Kansas, someone outta get your name put on a plaque and it should go up on a wall somewhere."

It may be an easy assumption that with the increasing popularity of Heads Up Decoy that leasing and or booked hunts would be on the agenda especially in an effort to boost our marketing prowess, but at this point I still prefer to measure my successes and failures under the same conditions as everyone else. I do not place judgement on those that do, it mostly boils down for me to a simple fact that in the grand scope of archery hunting, I am not very accomplished. When the time comes to look back I will feel good about what I've done or not done. So, I look forward to the struggles of a late September Kansas archery antelope hunt with my good friend Kent and his son Dalton. Let's hope they are responding to the decoy and we get an opportunity. Antelope are a beautiful animal and a ton of fun to hunt. I will be optimistic and with some good fortune maybe one of us will slide an arrow through this big boy pictured below. Hunting season has started for many...I wish you all the best of luck. Have a safe and exciting 2011 archery season.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New Bow Mount

When we traveled around to different commercial shows in the early days of HUD's, the first thing hunters would say about our antelope decoy is: "You should find a way to mount that to your bow." Well, we did. And frankly, the Bow Mount was specifically made with the antelope decoy and turkey decoy in mind. I spent HOURS in the shop working on the design...hours. To the point I finally settled on a design and went with it. It worked, but the numbers didn't...so it was back to the drawing board. I "dumbed" it down to a "V" bracket with the idea that I would mount 2 Tom Turkey decoys side-by-side, but as it turns out...you don't need 2 turkey decoys. If you have been following us, you will be well aware of the deadly turkey decoy we have and its use in the Bow Mount. What has been interesting over the course of the last couple of season is the amount of Bow Mounts we sell with other decoy models...maybe it's because I walked up on a mule deer buck in milo stalks and shot it on film...:-).

The Bow Mount is precisely machined and manufactured with a great deal of accuracy and consistency. We are proud to have been able to reduce the "engineering" to a smaller profile with complete and full functionality as the original design. The Bow Mount is constructed of 100% aluminum. As with the original model, we inserted plastic tubing to slide the decoy handle into. This reduces abrasions on the handle and silence on the shot.

Every Bow Mount is sold with a 5/16 button head bolt and one 1/4" roll pin. The bolt is used to secure the Bow Mount into the end of a stabilizer with a bolt hole at the end. We recommend a stabilizer with a hole in the end for full functionality of the Bow Mount. There are several brands on the market. However, you can place it between a stacker type stabilizer, between stabilizer and bow riser or for you traditional folks...get a Gadget Adapter generally used for bow fishing and bolt the Bow Mount to it.

The roll pin will be tapped into one of the ported holes in the Bow Mount. What you will do is determine what side of the bow the decoy will work on and what you prefer. Then you will see how the decoy will be positioned based on your set up to get the decoy in proper posture with as much "coverage" it will provide you without interfering with your sight window and arrow flight channel. Once you figure that out, tap the roll pin in the Bow Mount and reattach the Bow Mount and fix it securely. I personally find that once I have place the roll pin in the Bow Mount, I do not have to remove it for another decoy...however, fine tuning is always recommended to get as much "coverage" of the bow and yourself as possible.

When you insert the decoy handle into the fully assemble Bow Mount, align the notch of the handle so it will fit around the roll pin. We call this our "Wind Lock" system. This notch in the handle will keep the decoy from spinning in the Bow Mount. Keep in mind that the decoy will flex in the wind. We stumbled into this, but having some flex in the decoy will give you an extra 5+mph wind speed because the decoy absorbs some of the shock of the wind...having a decoy that has no give is bad in the wind. The decoy always works better when your face is in the wind. Practice Practice Practice with the decoy in the Bow Mount to know your limits. Here are some pictures of what the decoy may look like and how it may be attached to the bow. And remember, your Bow Mount investment is great because all our decoys fit in the Bow Mount. Good Luck.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

2011 Shed Season

As everything is starting to green up, and new horns are growing, I’m throwing in the towel for the 2011 shed season. This shed season has been by far my best to date, as I collected 78 horns. I was fortunate enough to find several match sets, and at least one horn off of every deer I’d hoped to. I should have several mature deer this year, which are signs that my hard work of putting in food plots and creating cover is starting to pay off. In the next few weeks, I will be putting in my last few food plots, and starting the countdown for the first part of August, so I can start running cameras again.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Piling them up with the HUD!

As you can see from Garrett's last post, the HUD turkey decoy has been a deadly weapon this spring. It has been the same around our household. My wife, Jerri, started it off killing the first bird with the HUD. The birds were headed to roost and weren't too fired up, but we were able to intercept a nice tom using a creek drainage and the decoy for cover. Jerri was able to arrow this 20 pounder that had 1 1/4" spurs while I held the decoy.

I was proud of Jerri arrowing a great bird without a blind. An accomplishment that many would consider one of the hardest feats to pull off. However, the HUD evens the odds and is very effective. With her on the board I took the opportunity to hook up with Garrett and chase birds. We headed out early and had action immediately. We were moving towards a couple of stutters but decided to stop and call a few times in case they had moved. We were cut off by a couple of gobbles. Within minutes we had several jakes approach our location in the 8" alfalfa field. I have no problem filling a tag with a jake and was already planning what we were going to do for the rest of the day since we had only been hunting for a half hour. Unfortunately I rushed the shot and missed low and watched the jakes run away unharmed. I couldn't believe it!

The wind picked up and we stuggled to find birds for the rest of the morning. I was really kicking myself for missing that bird, but it turned out to be a blessing. We finally found a couple of strutters with some hens in a hay field. We used the creek bottom to get close but ran out of cover and were several hundred yards away from the birds. I crept up the bank with the deke in the bowmount and showed the decoy. The birds immediately spotted the competition and started heading my way. As they neared, they started running. The birds broke into strut when they were 12 yards away. They didn't even flinch when I drew and I took my time this go around. The arrow hit its mark and the bird was down within seconds! Video Link to Matt's bird: HUD at 12 Yards!

I was tagged out in Kansas and had a Friday off so I headed to Nebraska. I spent several hours in the pickup and filled my tag after 10 minutes of hunting. I located a lone tom in a pasture. I tucked in behind a yucca plant and showed the bird the decoy. He came on a string. As he approached he came right at the yucca. I held my ground and he finally cleared the plant when he was 10-15 feet away! I came to full draw and he took a few steps away, but I had time to send an arrow into his vitals. He was less than 5 yards when I shot him. This is becoming a common result when hunting gobblers with the HUD. While quick, it was an awesome hunt!! I am contemplating spending a few more dollars and heading back to Nebraska so I can try to lay down another one.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The KS Turkey Season with Heads Up Decoy

For myself, the 2011 KS archery turkey season ended on public ground April 13th with another memorable hunt. The short time in the field has been jammed packed with memorable moments, close encounters, and near misses. We have several pro staffers who have filled all their tags and a couple others with one tag to go. But to say the Heads Up Decoy Tom Turkey is a success is an understatement...it's deadly. We've decoyed birds from the blind and from the bowmount at an unheard of ratio. I have said from the beginning that there are decoys on the market more realistic looking than the Heads Up Decoy, but not more versatile and not nearly as fun.

As of now, there have been 5 birds taken with the decoy and the bowmount from 9 yards to 40 yards and 6 birds taken from the blind from 8 yards to 40 yards. These are some of the images from the first 15 days of April.