By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
When hunting elk, antelope a stand-in be your friend
Travis Maphies, a store manager of Scheels Sporting Goods in Great Falls, Mont., stands with elk and antelope decoys. - photo by Photo by WAYNE DANIELS
Last week, I was in Scheels Sporting Goods in Great Falls, Mont. checking on some archery equipment I had on order and was talking to Travis Maphies, who is the manager of the archery department.

I first met Travis in 2005 while shooting in the archery leagues at 3D Archery in Vaughn. Our team and Travis’ were neck and neck throughout the season, but in the end Travis’s team came out on top with 35.5 wins to our 35.

Travis is one of those people who are short on years but long on experience. He has taken both antelope and elk with a bow along with a respectable number of deer, so I place a lot of respect in his ideas and listen when he speaks.

While talking about archery, our conversation turned to decoys and their effects on different animals. I told Travis that I had not used any of the decoys while hunting but had seen their effects on animals while watching several of the outdoor shows on TV and was anxious to give them a try this coming season.

I asked Travis, from his experience, which decoy, mainly antelope, worked the best for him, and he said the ones made by Montana Decoys.

Travis said there are several ways to use the decoys. One is to find a watering hole that the antelope are using and set up a ground blind and one or two decoys to draw the antelope in and take their mind off of the ground blind.

Another way and his favorite is to find a small band of antelope, figure our which way they are going and try and get ahead of them and set up an antelope buck decoy and find something to hide behind.

Also this time of the year, the bucks are very aggressive just before and during the rut, and the dominate buck will chase off any other bucks that come near the does.

Travis said last year he and some friends found a small band of antelope and watched as the dominate buck chased a smaller buck 150 yards just to show the interloper who was boss. After seeing this, Travis and his friends managed to get ahead of the herd and set the decoy up and when the buck saw it, he went ballistic and charged the decoy and they were able to make a shot and down the buck.

Travis did say that if you are successful in getting your decoy set up, be prepared because the buck will be coming at full speed.

I asked Travis about the elk decoys, and he said he found that the cow-butt decoy seems to work the best. Sometimes when the bull bugles and he sees the cow head on and she does not respond to his an bugle, he may think she is not interested and not try to get any closer but when he bugles and sees the rear end of a cow and she does not respond, he may think she did not hear him and may try and get closer.

Travis said the best scenario is to set the cow decoy down wind and just inside the tree line but where the bull can still see her. Find a hiding place behind a tree or bush in front of and to the side of the decoy so that if a bull does come in he will offer you a broadside shot as he passes by.

If you are hunting with a partner, have him set up 30 to 40 yards behind the decoy and well out of sight and start calling. Another factor Travis talked about is the weight of the Montana Decoys. They fold up into a compact package and are so light that you can place several of them in a backpack.

Just a little information about Montana Decoys:

The company was started in1996 by Jerry McPherson in Colstrip, Mont. Jerry was an enthusiast elk hunter and wanted to find a way to improve his success rate and through trial and era, came up with his first decoy and the rest is history.

I called the company and they are going to send me an antelope decoy to try out and I can’t wait for the season to start.

For more on Montana Decoys and their complete line of decoys, check them out on the web at, or give them a call at (888) 332-6998.

As for Scheels, the company has 23 stores throughout the Midwest and carries a complete line of sporting goods. The store in Great Falls is brand new and has everything that a sports enthusiast could ever want.

The store offers a complete line of archery equipment and firearms and for you muzzle loaders, everything needed to put up a good cloud of smoke. I always thought that hunting with a muzzle loader would add another level to hunting.

To spot the animal, shoot then set back and wait for the smoke to clear to see if you hit anything. If fishing, back packing or camping is your idea of a good time, they have everything you will need.

The next time you are in our area, check them out. If you are heading to any other location in the Midwest, check out their web site at for other store locations.

To contact Wayne Daniels, e-mail