Duck season has been in full swing for some and is just about to begin for others. As the season gets closer I always get a few questions about decoys.
1. How many do I use?
Early in duck season you will notice the migration is still going on and you'll see big bunches of ducks. So you need to use as many as possible at the beginning of the season. As the season goes on and the ducks get to your area you'll notice they break down into smaller groups so you can start to scale down a bit. Toward the end of the season the ducks are really getting smarter to what's going on so you can scale down even more, but all decoys need to be moving. Jerk strings, duck butts, anything that makes motion becomes more important. Of course they are always exceptions to the rule and type of terrain that you are hunting. Rice fields or big water will typically need bigger spreads.
2. How do I put them out?
First thing you check in the morning is wind direction. Ducks will land into the wind. They use the wind for control. We typically put our decoys (the bulk of them anyway) up wind of our position. We spread them out so the wind doesn't bump them together, it's usually 4 foot around them to the next decoy. We always use a couple jerk strings for motion. Mojo 3D Flyway Feeder Decoys will help add a lot of ripple to the water. Mojo Swimming decoys and Mojo Spinning Wing decoys along with the Mojo Mallard Machine. You always need a ripple on the water if the wind is light or non-excitant. Mojo 3D Flyway Feeder Decoys will help also add a lot of ripple to the water. The middle has a kind of a pocket or u shape to it.
If the wind is to our backs we will put wings off each side of the blind with just a few in front, but they are close, right up against the blind.
If you are in a timber hole (whether it's a hole you've cut out or you've found a place where a tree has fallen to create the hole), we put most of the decoys in the timber and only a few in the hole itself and then they are on the edge. Ducks light in the holes and swim out in the timber to feed so you want to imitate that.
3. How do I keep them from lighting wide?
First you need to notice what's going on. Are they seeing you? The longer the season goes on the more they are looking for something out of place. Once you've ruled that out. Has the wind changed direction? If it has you need to get out there and move some decoys around. If that second bunch doesn't do what we are wanting we are in the decoys making some changes. Don't be scared you are going to get out there and spook some ducks off if they're lighting wide you are not getting them anyway.
We use different species in our spread. We have Mallards, Gadwall, Teal, Pintail, Wigeon, Ringneck decoys in our spread at different times. These are the species that we have in our neck of the woods. What we do different is we use duck calls for what decoys we have. It just makes it more realistic if you have a Mallard drake in the decoy spread and he's talking as opposed to just the hen, or a Teal or a Gadwall drake. When we have everybody talking it just seems to be more realistic. That's the point isn't it – to make'em think its real.
We always pick up our decoys after the hunt. We always want the spread to be fresh and once the ducks get here and get localized they don't get used to one decoy spread. Or one that was there yesterday if your hunting a new blind. Using Rig'em Right decoy weights really helps with this process. They are easy to pick up so nobody minds helping you.
Good Luck and I hope you burn'em!