There’s no doubt antelope decoys will draw in a buck like metal to a magnet during the peak of the rut. But that is not only the best time to use a decoy. As early as mid-August in some areas, antelope bucks will separate themselves from the herd and stake claims to their territory – much like a whitetail does during the pre-rut. They won’t tolerate any gatecrashers in the area they plan to keep their does once breeding starts.
So, how do you decoy an antelope during the pre-rut? It all starts with scouting. When water is scarce, you can bet an antelope buck will be close. But even when water is plentiful, you can still determine a buck’s territory by looking for scrapes. Pawing marks in the ground and fresh droppings/urine on it can identify an antelope scrape. It’s how they mark their territory, and if you can find a few in an area, it’s likely being patrolled by a dominant buck.
Setup a blind around a water hole or active scrape. Or, use your binoculars spot a buck and stalk within shooting distance with the help of a decoy. Even if you blow a stalk, mature antelopes are so territorial, they will often return to the area.
If you make the decision to sneak up on an early season antelope, glass the high points of the area you're hunting. Dominant bucks will often bed in areas where they can monitor challengers. Once you spot a buck, either bedded or on his feet, use the terrain to stalk as close as possible to his location (it’s best to get within 100 yards). Then, flash the buck decoy. If you are having trouble getting him to notice the decoy, use an antelope challenge call to get his attention. You’ll know whether he is going to charge or move off right away.
If he moves off, it’s time to play on his emotions a little more. Get close once again, but this time, stake a doe decoy into the ground before showing him the Antelope Buck decoy. You can easily carry the Antelope Buck and Doe combo along with you. They weigh ounces and fold up to the size of a small plate to fit in your pack. Hide behind the buck decoy, as he will likely approach it first. As the buck comes into range, draw your bow behind the decoy and slowly lean out to the side to take a shot.
Here’s what the routine looks like:
Try stalking an antelope with a decoy during the pre-rut this season. It’s the kind of adrenaline-loaded encounter you read about in magazines and the exact opposite of calm, water hole hunts. One charge, and you’ll be hooked for life.