Here are the top 10 best choices for getting wary ducks and geese closer to your spread.
Waterfowl confidence decoys, above and beyond your basic block of duck decoys and goose decoys, create a realism in your decoy spread that makes hunted and wary birds birds settle down and come in close.
Most of us have had some experience hunting puddle ducks such as the mallard, pintails, widgeon, and teal. It stands to reason that like any animal, once the season has opened and they've been chased, they will become shy and reclusive making them much more of a challenge to hunt.
For some years now waterfowl hunters have found success in their home state by introducing into their decoy sets the likenesses of other wary birds that will make it seem as though all is well. From floaters to full-body decoys, the list can be as long as it is worthwhile, as not every duck or goose hunter needs them all.
It's just that we want them all.
Venerable sources such as Flambeau Outdoors have been making decoys since the beginning, and with call makers putting out the best calls for ducks, and in fact, for all of waterfowl hunting, their are enough good choices for everyone to find out what works best for them.
Now you just need to get your best dog and go!
10. Sandhill Crane
While this is more commonly a regional favorite, such as a swan or an egret, sandhill cranes are known to be quite wary and susceptible to spooking when intruders are present. These are certainly best used in the Pothole Prairie states where they are more prevalent.
9. Canada Goose
This is a particularly good decoy to have in the set for duck hunters. Obviously you will have them for your flooded cornfield spread when you are actually goose hunting, but a pair or more of geese floating near your duck decoys makes a lot of difference.
8. Teal/Wood Duck
These two breeds of duck come through the flyways early, making them a key part of your decoys for early season hunting. Better yet, a hen wood duck call or a teal whistle in your bag becomes integral for getting them in close.
7. Seagull Decoy
This odd choice came from years of hunting on the shores of the Great Lakes. Too many times these shoreline "drifters" would skirt our setup making it obvious that we needed to get them to stay. Their sharp eyes were made for scavenging, but they can work in your favor as ducks are quite used to seeing them nearby.
6. Cork Black Duck
Cork decoys go back almost as far as waterfowl hunting. In my early duck hunting days, black ducks were only on the menu for two birds-a-day, and then it changed to one. During that time is when my fellow waterfowl hunters and I made the distinct decision to stop taking any hens and only shoot at drakes.
Black ducks are famous for their wariness and many times will land outside the set, and only swim in. Seeing a half-dozen or so of these in your decoys will make a mallard calm right down and come right in.
5. Blue Heron
Maybe one of the wariest of birds out there, these guys love all of the same places that waterfowl love: creeks, streams, river edges, lakes, and beaver ponds. The blue heron is famous for busting humans from a distance, and while seeing them fly away on your walk in might seem like a bad thing, it is really telling you that no one else was there!
In the beginning days of flagging, hunters made their own by tying black or white material to the center of a stick and beating it in an up-and-down motion to mimic live birds, unlike this tongue-in-cheek video.
Now, with the onset of better materials and experience, flagging has come along way towards making waterfowl think that they are landing with friends.
3. Spinning Wing Decoy
These dekes turn in the lightest of winds and make passing ducks come in close. Sometimes these lightweight and durable decoys are necessary since, in some areas, motorized decoys are not allowed, making them a huge plus.
2. Feeder Decoy
There is almost nothing that makes wary birds at ease like seeing their brethren calmly feeding in a swamp. Mallards are famous for being finicky once the season is on, and a group of tip-up decoys—particularly the battery powered version—can make the difference when it comes to success.
1. Swimming Decoys
There is nothing that is as realistic as lively and "real" ducks swimming around your spread. They have come a long way from the old style battery powered version. Now there are newer rechargeable models that have multiple settings, such as swim or simply lay idle. Most will run for as much as five hours on a single charge. The downside is they can be expensive.
When you're hunting your favorite flyway, especially in the late season, and you're tired of seeing birds at a greater distance, waterfowl hunting can be made simpler by adding a few of these confidence decoys to your setup.
Nothing can make your experience more fruitful like time on the water, scouting, and shooting some clay targets before the season starts, but once all the bases have been covered, you may just find yourself with a bag full of birds.
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