Top 10 Tips to Decoying Ducks and Geese
Decoys are the golden oldies in the waterfowl hunter’s bag of tricks. The earliest confirmed decoy use can be traced to hand-made blocks found in a Nevada cave that date back more than 2,000 years, though speculation among archeologists suggests decoys were used as much as 8,000 years ago. And while materials have evolved considerably in the last couple millennia, the concepts of decoying have changed little.
Here are ten of the most important principles that can spell the difference between a successful hunt and a day watching flight after flight pass you by.
- The idea of positioning your decoys to face into the wind is understood by most hunters, but don’t overdo it! A natural flock sees birds facing in every conceivable direction. Ensure you have diversity in the direction your decoys face and the spacing between them.
- A large spread of full-bodied or shell decoys can be a cumbersome and expensive venture. Fill out your spread by using relatively inexpensive and lightweight silhouette or windsock decoys.
- For a field spread, it’s tough to beat the traditional “U” or “V” design, with the wings extending downwind and your blinds at the upwind end.
- Leave an opening immediately downwind of your blind where arriving birds can settle. Without it, birds are likely to land on the outer edges of your spread, limiting shooting opportunities.
- Motion decoys, like Robo ducks, offer movement and realism to your spread. They are invaluable on a duck hunt, but at times Canada geese will avoid them. Be prepared to take them down if Canadas won’t commit. Flagging is an excellent way to add motion to your Canada goose spread.
- Generally, the more decoys the better, but towards the end of the season, when geese are well educated, a smaller spread of two- to four-dozen shells or full-bodies is often the most effective.
- If geese are flaring on your blind or are simply wary, as is often the case late in the season, move your blinds ⅓ of the way down one of the wings and shoot incoming birds as they fly past.
- When hunting ducks on the water, add a couple floating Canada geese to the spread. These confidence decoys will reassure approaching ducks while adding the possibility of a bonus goose or two.
- When hunting from shore on a large wetland, set the majority of your decoys upwind of your blind location. This helps ensure that incoming birds will fly past your blind to settle, giving them something to focus on besides you.
- High contrast in your decoys is important when hunting diving ducks. While species-specific blocks are best, you can be effective in attracting divers with any decoy that shows significant dark/light contrast.
Bonus tip! When setting late season decoys in snow, carry in your blinds and decoys from upwind of where your blind will be set up. This reduces unnecessary disturbance along the path approaching birds will take.