Add a decoy to your antelope hunting toolbox

The antelope in many areas have sorted out their pecking orders and paired up with does. But there are still some bucks out there trying to get in on the action.

I don’t think I’d try it during the rifle season, but if your antelope area’s still open to archery only, a decoy might be just the trick you need.

After the pronghorns have broken into their harem groups, the bucks get extremely territorial. Just sit back and watch them sometime. If another buck gets anywhere near the does, he’ll get run out of the area in no time flat.

You can use that territorial drive to your advantage. Get an antelope decoy and head for your area. Try to find a decoy that has pretty small horns. You don’t want your decoy to look intimidating to the herd buck.

It’s pretty simple. Just take your decoy to where the goats are, then hold it or prop it up and wait for the herd buck to come run you off. You can sometimes move closer to the buck by holding the decoy in front of you as you crouch and move, but it works better if the buck will come to you. Most decoys have a stake or a rod you can stick into the ground to hold the deke up. If you plant it in the ground, you’ll have both hands free to draw your bow.

The other benefit to the decoy is that it hides your movement while you draw. Even if it doesn’t hide all the movement, what the antelope sees makes it think the deke is an actual antelope moving.

I’ve used a decoy quite a few times, and I’ve had a lot of success. I’ve had some failures, too. Like the year I went out on September first, and just as I was drawing down on a nice buck, a bunch of dove hunters opened up a few hundred yards away. I try to avoid hunting antelope on opening day of dove season now.

But I’m still working the decoy. I haven’t connected on a goat using the deke yet, but it’s worked well in the past, and I have no doubt it’ll continue to work. Maybe one of these days it’ll all come together.