Most sportsmen go to great lengths to hide their hunting gear from big game.
Garrett Roe of Hays is clearly showing his — and hoping other hunters will, too.
He manufactures Heads Up Decoys. They're hand-held, photo-realistic silhouette replicas of the face and neck of deer, elk and antelope.
Going into his 25th season of bowhunting, Roe said he got the idea of needing a decoy years ago.
At the time he was hunting a broad, miles-wide Trego County pasture and trying to figure how to get deer to walk within the 30 yards he needed to make a shot.
He got an idea while hunting the mountains of Colorado.
"You head up there with all kinds of plans for things you'd like to have but it's just not practical to carry a full-sized decoy, even a silhouette, when you're doing that much walking," Roe said.
After a few years of design trial and error, Roe came up with foldable cloth decoys that contain plastic tubing.
When the tubing is connected, it makes life-size head and neck decoys of cow elk, doe mule and whitetail deer and buck antelope.
When folded, they're a little larger than a dinner plate and weigh less than a pound.
A portable handle snaps into the decoys that are made to be hand-held so they can be flashed up when needed.
Roe said one use is to keep the decoy handy during a stalk.
"Most times if an animal catches your movement, and you can just kind of show the decoy for a little while they'll go right back to what they were doing," Roe said. "It kind of puts them at ease, thinking its another elk or deer moving."
And there are times when the hunter can hold his ground and let the decoy lure in the game.
Roe and buddy Kent Hensley went on a bowhunt last October that is a prime example.
Together they were working an area of tall CRP grass and tall crops, trying to find a big mule deer buck they'd heard was in the area.
That morning, they saw the buck and did their best to sneak close, but could only get within 150 yards.
Roe sneaked into a great hiding spot about 30 yards ahead of his friend. When Hensley flashed the decoy of a mule deer doe, it caught the buck's attention.
He then only had to keep it within the buck's sight.
"As soon as the buck saw the decoy, he kind of flicked his tail, turned and came right to it," Roe said. "He was locked on. I never had any doubt it would work well on mule deer."
Roe made a 15-yard shot when the buck was within 30 yards of the decoy. The wide, heavy-antlered nontypical is his best mule deer.
He's not sure his current line of decoys will be his best. He has several other products and improvements on the drawing board.
His business plan involves patience, though.
Roe is careful not to take on too much, too soon.
"Right now I'm the marketing department, CEO, CFO, and chief of manufacturing," he said "I'm doing it all on my own, but that's OK."
Decoys are printed and stamped at another location. Roe hand-cuts the image from the cloth, assembles and inserts the tubing.
Most of the decoys retail for about $70.
He's located improved methods of printing and stamping out the cloth when sales start to improve.
"Last year I sold two decoys online and this year I'm in seven stores (in four states) and doing sales online," Roe said. "It's getting there. I'm just like everybody else with the American dream. Everybody initially starts in their garage and that's exactly where I'm at."
For more information go to www.headsupdecoy.com.