Santa Fe, NM
After that hunt, I researched the decoys on the market and over the next couple of seasons, but nothing seemed to be what we were looking for. Then, I came across the Heads Up - Mule Deer Doe decoy. It was just what I was looking for and I just had to get one for our upcoming hunt. Heck, the price was right as well. I placed my order the month before our hunt and chose to get the bow mount along with my decoy. I borrowed an old stabilizer from a buddy and installed the bow mount on my Hoyt Spyder 30.
Opening day on January 1st, 2014 was going to be the test. We soon spotted a nice shooter buck chasing a small herd of does. I got the nod and went after them with the decoy in one hand and my bow in the other. When I got to within a couple of hundred yards, I started stalking with the decoy up and facing the direction of the deer. I came around a bush and had a doe bust me at about 60 yards. I just froze and held the decoy up in front of me. After about 20 seconds, she wagged her tail and continued feeding from right to left. Wow!!! The stalk would have been over right then and there if I hadn't been for my Heads Up Decoy! Although I never did get a shot on that stalk, it was the decoy’s first test and it won me over…Hands down. During the hunt, my hunting partner and I both used the decoy with good results. We were able to get much closer to the deer with the decoy. On another memorable stalk, we spotted a huge fork antlered buck tending a doe from about a mile away. This time it was my buddy’s turn to try the decoy. He’s a big guy about 6’ 3” and is he’s a traditional archer. Mule deer hunting in open desert with a recurve? Are you kidding me? Well, using that decoy, he easily got to within 100 yards of the buck and doe with very little cover while they kept a watchful eye on him. A young spike was with the buck and doe and decided to come visit the decoy and my partner. He walked to within 15 yards before he winded my partner and took off. That didn’t phase the buck and doe! He watched them feed and romance closer and closer to him. The deer were so calm with him and the decoy in plain sight that he even witnessed the buck mount the doe right there in front of him at 40 yards! Wowzers!!! Eventually, they winded him too and it was over. That clinched it for my buddy…he was a believer now.
The weather was extremely windy during our hunt, so I didn't get a chance to use my bow mount very much. It’s not something to use in windy weather because it’s like bolting a kite to your bow. Here’s a good tip for windy conditions. Because it was so windy, I had to figure out how to carry it without it catching in the wind and flopping around. Since I use a belt mounted bow hook to carry/hold my bow while I hunt, just slid the decoy in the bow hook on top of the bow handle and against my body and was able to carry the decoy in place along with my bow in the high wind. The handle was positioned to the front so I could grip the decoy handle and the bow with one hand as I walked.
In summary, the Heads Up - Mule Deer decoy more than met my expectations and it will be going on all my future mule deer archery hunts. What I learned, is that when you hold the decoy up between you and the deer…where the deer can see it more than you, the deer focus on the decoy even though you are there too. If you get busted, just keep the decoy up and the deer will calm down and go back to what they were doing. I guess they think you’re a funny shaped deer, or just another herbivore. The decoy even helped me sneak among cattle without causing a stampede! I hate when cattle stampede and blow out a good buck when I’m on a stalk. The decoy worked so well, we decided it needed a name. I named her “Daisy”. This is a highly effective decoy that is perfect for spot and stalk, or still hunting methods.
Darren Padilla - Santa Fe, NM