Over the past four archery seasons, I’ve chased plains mule deer in South Dakota with no success. I struck out on every stalk, whether it was because the wind swirled or a deer busted me during my draw. Even without letting an arrow go, this type of spot and stalk hunting became something I looked forward to each year to break up the monotony of sitting in a treestand in Central Pennsylvania.
Going into my fifth hunt on the prairies, I wanted to try something new. I’ve used decoys in the duck marsh and turkey woods, but hunting deer with one was a foreign concept to me. The thought of attaching a decoy to my bow and stalking an animal seemed outright crazy. It also sounded like a lot of fun. So I picked up an Ultimate Predator Mule Deer Stalker Decoy, strapped it to my bow, and headed into the plains of South Dakota.
How the Mule Deer Stalker Decoy Works
The Stalker Antlers attach to the back of the decoy via velcro straps. Derek Horner
The Mule Deer Stalker is a bow-mounted decoy with a shooting window through the center. It comes with velcro straps to attach the decoy to the bow, but I upgraded mine to the Stalker Spider Straps for a more secure and quieter fit in the field. I easily fastened the Mule Deer Stalker to my Hoyt RX4 and tightened it down to prevent unwanted movement. I also added the Mule Deer Stalker Antlers, which are easily connected to the back of the decoy using velcro straps.
In the field, you hold your bow up (with the decoy attached) in front of you and walk towards your quarry. There is a bit of a learning curve when approaching game with a decoy. After all, deer don’t typically walk directly up to each other, especially bucks in mid-November. I found crouching and moving with a saunter to be the most effective way to approach deer.
Built-in shooting window
Durable, quick-drying micro suede fabric
Attaches in seconds
Total weight is less than 10 ounces
Collapses to a 10-inch diameter disc
Built-in orange safety strap
How I Tested The Mule Deer Stalker Decoy
I spent a week on the prairies of South Dakota with the Mule Deer Stalker Decoy attached to my bow. On the first day of my hunt, I spotted a solid 3×3 tending to a doe on a small hill. I deployed the decoy in front of my bow and slowly began working toward their position. The buck and doe instantly locked onto me when I came into view. To my surprise, they sat and intently watched as I continued to close the gap. Once I got to about 70 yards, they stood up from their beds and were visibly irritated by my presence. The buck stomped and snort-wheezed at me, so naturally, I returned the favor. He began raking the sagebrush with his antlers and walking towards my decoy.
I ranged him at 43 yards and dialed in my sight accordingly. But the wind caught my decoy, and suddenly it felt like I was holding onto a small kite. Not something you want to happen when you are about to draw on a deer. My shot missed its mark, and the buck ran off unscathed.
Two days later, I found a 4×4 with a doe one drainage over from me. I watched them bed down and then began my stalk. I made it to about 350 yards of the bedded deer when the 4×4 started to spar with a 3×3. I stayed put, within sight of the deer, and kneeled behind the decoy.
The doe began working downhill towards my position, and the 4×4 followed. Unwavered by my presence and maybe even a little agitated at my decoy, the buck started running towards me. He came all the way into 16 yards to investigate. The decoy didn’t hinder my draw, and my arrow passed through the buck’s vitals.
The author with the Mule Deer Stalker decoy and a 4×4 buck taken in South Dakota. Derek Horner
What I Like About the Mule Deer Stalker Decoy
I was impressed with how light the decoy was when attached to my bow. It didn’t affect my shot routine or groupings at the range, and it was effortless to carry around on the prairies. Even better, it easily mounts to a bow with either velcro straps or the Stalker Spider Straps. I opted for the Spider Straps because they are much more secure than the velcro ones. The Mule Deer Stalker can pack down to a 10-inch diameter. It weighs practically nothing, and I was able to pack out my buck and slip the collapsed decoy into my pack frame without sacrificing space.
What I Dislike About the Mule Deer Stalker Decoy
I ran into problems with the decoy when hunting in stronger winds. When deployed on your bow, the Mule Deer Stalker has a wide surface area making it easy to catch the wind. This makes it difficult to draw and hold steady on your target. I’m not saying I missed my shot at the first deer because of the decoy, but holding it in the wind certainly didn’t help. I also struggled to fold down the decoy at the end of the day. This made it a bit more difficult to pack, and I ended up bending the outer frame a little, but was able to quickly re-bend and fix it.
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