(Frequently Asked Questions)
This page regards hunting with deer decoys in general and Tail-Wagger specific questions that we have fielded over 12 years of interaction with thousands of hunters... both users and non-users of deer decoys.
Q. Do I really need to use a deer decoy?
A. No. The more time you spend hunting, the more likely it is that a deer will come within shooting range and be sufficiently distracted to allow you to get the shot. However, the deer decoy is more likely to bring a deer in from a distance and keep it distracted and moving around in your immediate area, thus giving you more (and better) opportunities to get the right shot. That being said, it is obviously more important for the archer / bowhunter that must get closer shots.
Q. Is a buck or doe decoy better?
A. That depends on who you ask. Weíve heard the big name hunters say both ways. Consider this: if youíre trying to attract a big buck (most of us are), a buck or doe deer decoy could work. However, a buck decoy is not likely to attract a doe unless sheís in heat, in which case, a buck may be with her already. A doe decoy may attract a buck or doe at any time. Either type of decoy may scare another deer away, but more likely with a buck decoy. If you decide to use a buck decoy, itís probably better to weaken it: use just one antler or at least smaller antlers. You can then have the weak side toward you, because the buck coming in would likely approach the weak side first, giving you the shot you need. However, during the rut, you never know what might bring in a hormonized buck!
Q. Should I put scent on my decoy?
A. NO, NO, NO! The scent you put on the decoy will remain with it until removed. Consider this: do you want to be walking out of the woods in the dark carrying something with estrus scent on it? Also, do you realize that estrus scent starts to "rot" once itís exposed to air? What good will it be next week all over your decoy? Also, if youíre using a food based scent, it may get your decoy gnawed up by rodents when you store it. Canisters are great: you can place them around your decoy and close them up when you quit hunting.
Q. Can I use a real tail with my Tail-Wagger?
A. Only if you can make it lightweight enough. The tail that is shipped with
the units weighs about 7 grams. We have stripped enough skin and fur off real
tails to make them work, and it looks good, but the action is not quite as quick
as the original tail flick, but pretty good. But, it sure looks neat. (Not that
the deer will notice). Keep in mind that all those hairs accumulate odor, and if
it rains, the wet hair will probably add enough weight to make the unit
inoperable. Do you really need a real deer tailt? Much of the same can be said about glass eyes
for your decoy... they sure look cool. But, how necessary is it? Thatís a
pretty subjective question to answer.
Q. Is 8 or 16 second tail wagging intervals better?
A. It depends. If youíre hunting in an open field, the whitetail deer can make out your deer decoy easily. You just need to make it look alive, so 16 seconds might be all right. If youíre in the woods, a passing deer may not notice your deer decoy without some motion to get itís attention, and a whitetail deer can travel pretty far in 16 seconds. Therefore, 8 seconds would probably be best.
Q. Which decoy is better: Flambeauís Redi-Doe, Grazing Doe, or CommanDoe, Carry-Lite, McKenzie, Delta or...?
A. They all work. The added realism of one vs. the other might make the difference some times, though. The set up for the Flambeau decoys is easier, since you donít have to stake them in the ground to keep them standing like you must do with the Carry-Lite. Theyíre both fairly lightweight, being hollow plastic. However, the Flambeau's paint is not as durable as the Carry-Lite. Carry-Lite makes a good looking, durable decoy, but it has to be staked into the ground to keep it standing (stakes are provided). In addition, the Carry-Lite has a particularly "stern" posture which can cause concern with other deer. The full body foam deer decoys work, but the work involved in transporting them to and from your stand may cause you to avoid using them as much. Deltaís "Supreme" decoy, which is hollow, flexible, quiet foam works, and itís easier to transport, but the sections must be put together on site, meaning more work in the field. Most convenient is the Tail-Wagger Deer Rear. But, it has it's limitations, too. Certainly not as limiting as the two dimensional decoys, though! Does your dog pay much attention to what's on TV? Deer are about the same with two dimensional decoys! Because it's not a full decoy, positioning is more critical. And, sometimes, the additional realism of a full size decoy may be whatís needed to get the deer in the right place for a shot. However, we believe that the ease of use of the Tail-Wagger Deer Rear means you will use it more often than other decoys and in places youíd never think to take another deer decoy because of the work involved, thus leading to more success. If you hunt in an area where itís easy for you to use a full size deer decoy as often as you like, by all means, do it!
Q. How and where should I place my decoy?
A. Most importantly, it must get seen! Decoy placement depends on whether youíre using a buck or doe decoy and from which way the deer will be coming. Once you know which way the deer will be coming, they will fool you. It seems like they always do! Therefore, some flexibility in set-up is important. Many times, a deer will approach a deer decoy to about 20 or 30 yards and study it. If you can place the decoy so that the deer is within your range when it stops, you get your shot. Often, a deer will circle the decoy to check it out, both visually and for smell. When final approaching the decoy, a buck usually tries to come in from the rear on a doe decoy, so itís a good bet to have the decoy facing away from you. A buck approaching a buck decoy often comes in head on, so the decoy should be facing in your direction, but not directly at you.
Q. Why is the tail motion so important? Why not an ear twitch?
A. First of all, itís the motion that gets the attention. It has to do with "rods" and "cones" in their eyes. Deer see motion better than they see detail. They see better at night than we do for the same reason. Regarding the tail: youíve seen 2 dogs meet, and whatís the first thing they do? Smell the otherís rear! A lot of information is gathered this way in the animal kingdom. You might call it the "business end" of animal interaction. The motion provided by Tail-Wagger is the "at ease" signal. An alarmed deer would not wag their tail in this manner. If you watch deer enough, youíll notice that they often give this "wag" right before their head goes down to eat. The "ear twitch" is another matter. At the right time it might be OK, at other times, it might be a mistake. Why chance it?
Q. The tail that I get with my unit, how long will it last?
A. The tail is made of urethane foam, not polyurethane. Itís UV stable. Itís closed cell, so it doesnít absorb moisture like a sponge. Itís flexible, so it wonít break. In other words, itís durable, it doesnít "wear out." If you bend it many times, the paint may start to look worn. But, Gary Clancy, CJ Winand and others donít even care about the paint. They use it with the "white" side showing anyway. Itís possible, however, that if you leave the tail outside, that some critter will chew on it. But it will still work.
Q. Why should I rotate the batteries after every 10-20 hours of use of my Tail-Wagger motion kit?
A. To balance the power drain. The electronics of the power pack operate on 6 volts. The motor is powered using only 3 volts. Therefore, 2 of the batteries have more power consumed than the other 2. You do not "have to" rotate the batteries, but itís a good practice.
Q. Why are alkaline batteries not recommended?
A. Alkaline batteries have more "power" than carbon batteries. The added power may cause some noise within the unit due to the faster action. In addition, alkaline batteries do not hold up as well as carbon batteries in cold weather. They can commonly be found in the dollar stores.
Q. Will the batteries last really last for 200 hours of operation?
A. Probably more. Thereís a built-in timing circuit. If you set the WAGGER for 8 second intervals, every 8 seconds there is only a 6/10th second pulse of energy to the motor. Very efficient. Until the pulse is sent, only the "electronics" are working when itís on. Cold effects battery operation, so the power pack is made as a separate unit that you can bring into warmth without the deer decoy. Then, whenever you head out hunting, you can have warm batteries. In sub zero temperatures, it might be wise to enclose the power pack in a thick sock or mitten if you think youíll be able to stay in your stand for an extended period.
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