Decoys & Calls: The art of getting closer

With bowhunting, we all know part of the allure is getting close. And to help the bowhunter get closer, decoys are a great asset.


Just like turkey hunting, we have learned that a decoy is a definite asset, and now other species can be hunted with the use of decoys, which now come in a wide variety of species.

Deer approaching decoy. Photo by Gord Nuttall.
Photo by Gord Nuttall.

I was fortunate to have co-invented an umbrella with a silhouette of different animals on it to help me get close. I had experimented with my umbrella invention and first covered a golf umbrella in white cloth. I used to walk up to herds of mule deer in open country and get as close as 50 yards before a single doe would take the whole herd away. Then I took a Montana decoy of a side-view deer and sewed it onto the white covered umbrella and, lo and behold, I was able to get within 30 yards or closer to the same herd, weeks later. My umbrella stuck in the ground and you could shoot over it or beside it. I had sold a few with some great testimonials of successful hunts using my umbrella, including a wheelchair-bound hunter who hunted off a quad and he used the umbrella decoy of an elk to hide the quad that he was sitting on and he successfully shot an elk off the ATV, calling the elk to 50 yards. I do know that decoys work well. You can check out my website for some videos of the umbrella in use.


The umbrella invention has long been replaced by better inventions of modern decoys that are three-dimensional, collapsible and more convenient. Montana decoys have been around for a long time and have helped hunters achieve success using their decoys. They come in a cardboard version to be cost effective, and the decoys fold up into a backpack quickly and conveniently. ButtHead Decoys have invented a 3D version that is pretty cool, as it’s on a metal pole that you can hide behind as you stalk in or setup on game and it sticks in the ground when you need to take your shot.

I have a decoy now that attaches to my bow and has a hole for the arrow and sight to see and shoot through. It comes in various animals, but for elk it’s awesome – it looks like an elk and your own legs help look like a cow elk facing the animal you’re stalking. I wish I had it last year, as I had to take a longer shot than I wanted to because I ran out of things to hide behind on a bugling elk. It makes the bow a tad heavier, but most of us spend a lot of money adding weight to our bows for stabilization. Remember: a heavy bow is a stable bow, as a heavy object is harder to move.


A decoy can only get you so far. To complete the illusion, you need to learn to call well. The hands-free calls work best for bowhunters, or a reed or bite-down call, so you can draw your bow and continue to call, if necessary.

Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of a decoy, for getting closer to your quarry or convincing them to come closer to you if they’re hung up just out of reach. If they can hear your call and see the decoy, your quarry is less likely to be fearful.

So this year, whatever your game, don’t forget to check out the options that a good decoy and call can offer.