I think they help in certain situations. The wind needs to be right, like any other time when bow hunting. Many times it'll take the bulls into bow range, when they hold up outside of it. Visual can help a lot.
i've heard both ways good and bad about decoys. My buddy says he's had bulls come into his decoy and sniff it. but last year when we got ahead of the herd and set it up, the elk didn't like it and they booked it in the other direction. i personally dont like to hunt with a decoy because i think i would rather that the elk not know anything is there. i'd rather be fully invisible if that makes sense
We use our decoys in way to keep the bulls looking........we've had good luck with using them in/behind underbrush where only part of the decoy is visible. The Montana cow decoys work well as they are compact and lightweight. I too have had elk get spooked by them as well though........to each his own!
Let me start off by saying that I am a scaredy cat.
For someone that spent 3 years in 82nd Airborne jumping out of all manner of military aircraft, my friends find this ludicrous - but... it is what it is!
Climbing stand? Yep, still scared - put me up 15' and that is about it.
Ladder stands? I am better in these - but still cautious.
Chain on stands? Used to love them, now they terrify me.
I was once ridiculed for putting chain on stands waaaay too high - some of my friends...