Hunters have been using duck decoys to aid them in their hunts for centuries. Today, they are more popular than ever by hunters and collectors alike. However, unless you have the knowledge of using one, you need to know how to use duck decoys.
It is not advisable to use the same old decoy spread all through the season, this limits your decoying opportunities. Instead, look for tried and tested decoy setups that have been proven in different situations and locations through the hunting season which may help you kill more ducks and geese when you head out into the field.
Over a great length of time, materials and manufacturing methods have changed, but the concept of duck and bird decoys has changed very little. Today, the modern duck decoys, geese or any other waterfowl hunting decoys, are as effective as all those years ago when the capture of a bird was a matter of survival in the rugged outdoors.
When hunting in large open water areas, generally the more decoys used for ducks and other water fowl is the better option; for example, six, seven, even eight blocks of a dozen are not to many by any means. However, in smaller water areas such as ponds, potholes, etc. where waterfowl like ducks or geese are often found, one block of a dozen decoys is perhaps the better option.
It is often said by experienced hunters that when hunting geese in open grass areas at the beginning of the season, it is best to have a large spread of decoys, but as the season progresses, it is better to reduce the size of this spread. The reason being from experience, geese can sometimes be very wary of large groups of decoys later in the season, and the same applies as the season draws to its conclusion to use fewer sets.
It goes without saying the more decoys you buy, the more expensive, and the more you have to carry around. It has been known to help expand your layout by using silhouette decoys (handmade), or for less expense, you can purchase commercial silhouettes.
While hunting from shore in large wetland areas, it is wise to set the majority of your decoys upwind from your hunting blind location. This ensures that the incoming birds have to fly past your blind before settling, giving them something to focus on besides a waiting hunter. Ducks and geese, without this method, are more likely to land on the outer edges of the spread which will then limit your shooting opportunities.
Those choosing to hunt in the field or on the water find it is probably better to separate the groups of decoys whether they be ducks or geese, as real birds of different species can often be seen feeding together they often tend to stay in their own individual groups of the same species. All wildfowl are a lot cleverer than most people who have never hunted could imagine.
Those of you who want to place decoys under cover of darkness will find they often frost up as the sun starts to rise. This will result in your spread reflecting light, causing many of the birds that may have dropped in to become wary of all this shining light and having the reverse effect of scaring them away. Always have a rag or piece of cloth to wipe down just before legal light.
Another way to look at decoys when using them is trying to use them in similar colors to the species you are wishing to hunt, as with lots of different ducks, some have more color than others. When setting up your spread, try to consider this and maybe you will have a better day’s hunting and more successful. Use the same for whichever duck, geese or wildfowl you are hunting and maybe create the same effect.
I hope this gives you a better understanding on how to use decoys.