Rick Hall wrote:Maybe you fellows already fool 'em all, but I'm still working on it.
Hang in there, Rick, eventually you'll get it......
(actually, I agree with you on decoy realism. The most lifelike decoys are the only decoys I'll buy. But, the subject we were discussing is "do mallards know that black ducks are more wary than they (the mallards) are, and do they trust the blacks more than they trust other mallards?" Do ducks even possess the ability to "trust"?)
Well... I've been blessed with the opportunity to hunt every open day of waterfowl season and most afternoons on the bird rich but high gun pressure Southwest Louisiana wintering grounds since 1984, with the down side being the accompanying responsibility of doing my level best to fill my hunters' game straps. And if I've learned anything from it, it's been the importance of doing my best to pay attention.
When putting a dozen snow goose decoys out with a spread in hopes of drawing a few lost ones repeatedly appears to hurt our chances to start, let alone finish, other birds, it sure appears to me that the birds don't "trust" them, presumably because a dozen snow geese on the ground or in the water is a phenomenon those birds have come to associate with guns. By the same token, when late season ducks and even specklebellied geese are frequently more inclined to land with my big raft of poule d'eaus/coots than with the duck or speck decoys across the pothole, I can't help but suspect it's a matter of "trust"ing something that doesn't commonly shoot at them. Particularly on occasions when the wind favors other locations.
In any event, no, I don't believe ducks think, "Gee, there's a wary what's-it, it must be safe to sit with him." But I certainly do believe them capable of what for any practical purpose amounts to "trust" and "distrust". And I try to play to it with rigs and setups that look as trustworthy as I can manage and as little as I can get away with like what the warier birds might not trust.
If you think I'm wrong, you might be right.