Successful Decoy Spreads

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Successful Decoy Spreads

Postby benjaminayoung » Sat Dec 15, 2012 3:10 pm

I've had a nagging feeling that my decoy spread is missing that special something. I've noticed a trend when it comes to getting ducks to commit. Either they work me for a long period of time (just circling and circling) and make a few attempts to commit, or they slow down, take a peek and keep going. I'm not so much concerned about the latter, but the former. With this being my second season in GA, I've picked up a few things that work well to attract attention (a mojo and jerk rig), and also taking note of the number and species in the areas I hunt. But I can't help but think there is just that one thing I'm not doing to make a convincing argument. I've hunted from NE NC all they way down to central FL, and each area has unique trademarks that make for the best conditions to get ducks to fully commit. I figure some of you native GA hunters might have an idea of what I might be missing. For instance, in central FL it's best to use odd numbers of GWT deeks (5 or 7, with a 2:1 ratio of drake to hen), or in central NC, a hodge podge of mixed dabblers forming a C shape (best to use 3 differen groups seperated by about 15-20 yds).

If nothing else, tell us a story about a setup that worked well for you.

P.S. the places I hunt in FL and NC a mojo and jerk string are not necessary (in FL, a mojo can scare them off)
Most Common phrases out of a duckers mouth:
Why couldn't you have been born a duck!!!
OH S*&T, DUCKS!
Damn tweedy bird, you about got shot.
There's a whole bunch of duc..oh wait, tweety birds.
I about turned this mosquito into a duck
I just got ate up
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Re: Successful Decoy Spreads

Postby duckhunter48 » Sun Dec 16, 2012 8:33 am

you probably just arent on the X. if the duck wants to go somewhere, its going there. no decoy spread, jerk rig, or mojo is going to change its mind.
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Re: Successful Decoy Spreads

Postby benjaminayoung » Sun Dec 16, 2012 2:48 pm

Normally I'd say you are right, but I've scouted plenty and found several places that are loaded, and it's in spots that they want to fly to, without ducks (deeks or real) to begin with. I don't believe it's a location problem.
Most Common phrases out of a duckers mouth:
Why couldn't you have been born a duck!!!
OH S*&T, DUCKS!
Damn tweedy bird, you about got shot.
There's a whole bunch of duc..oh wait, tweety birds.
I about turned this mosquito into a duck
I just got ate up
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Re: Successful Decoy Spreads

Postby krazybronco2 » Mon Dec 17, 2012 9:28 am

if the first flight doesnt come in to the spread and you have the mojo out i would pull first start with pulling the mojo cause it could be spooking the birds before they even get close. if that doesnt work i would try and move some decoys around maybe they are to close and need to be spread out alittle more. all in all it could be many things that are messing with the ducks.
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Re: Successful Decoy Spreads

Postby GeorgiaDuckBuster » Mon Dec 17, 2012 12:19 pm

Sounds to me like your over thinkin it... certain number of this type and a raito??? I don't know anyone that has thiers down to such an exact science ... Ducks have gotten quite use to the mojo so I would skip that... if your for sure your on the X and you have a realistic spread with some movement and the ducks won't commit but circle... sounds like somethin don't seem right to em for them to come on home. You obviously done somethin right to get there attention and have em intereted in puttin down there. So I would think simple. Is you blind concealed can they see your face, hands, reflection from a call gun anything, are you and your buddies talkin to much or to loud, are you movin around... start from the beginning and check stuff like that, often times we get so caught up in tryin to have the sweetest spread with awesome callin that we over look the simple stuff that will get you busted.

Had this problem two years ago... birds circlin but wouldn't commit, one of the guys huntin didn't have gloves on and was movin around, got him some gloves and to stop moving... bam birds started workin..
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Re: Successful Decoy Spreads

Postby benjaminayoung » Mon Dec 17, 2012 4:33 pm

Krazy, I've done all of the above, in just about every combination. I know they do like the jerk rig. I can work em without calling, just on the jerk rig alone.
DuckBuster, I kid you not, down in FL, having 5-7 teal (marsh areas, not big open water) makes the difference. I tested that a few years ago. Went out for 3 morning straight, in the same spot, with the same conditions and same everything with the exception of the teal. I put out 6 for the first 2 mornings and watch a flock of about 16 fly around then leave. on the third day, i put out 7 teal, and they didn't even hesitate to fly right in. I don't know why it matters, but it does, and I've shared that with other hunters in that area and their teal success has increased dramatically. Further up the flyway, that rule doesn't fit, so i go with 10-12 which seems to work well enough. As for being covered, I believe I'm also good on that end, using vegetation from behind me to blend in naturally (10 years in the military taught me the ins and outs of how to use natural vegetation to quite literally disappear). While working them, they will fly directly overhead and they are more concerned with the decoy spread than with the blinds.

As of now, I'm converting some of my hen mallards and hen pintails to drake ringneck. I'm thinking that if I have a more vibrant spread, it might seem to be more convincing. I did have a thought about spreads themselves. I haven't had enough time to observe patterns here in GA yet, but do they have a tendency to remain in like species groups? I know ducks will congregate in the same spots, but do they stay in their own groups while in an area (i.e. teal stay with teal, mallards with mallards, etc.) or will they all congregate together in one duck raft? Up in NC (location dependent) they can remain in like species groups. From what I've seen, and read, that's because NC is a wintering location and the group sizes are far larger, giving ducks in the air, options on where to set down. however, in FL, the only species that stay together are diving ducks. So the question is whether to keep my decoys segregated or inter mix them.
Most Common phrases out of a duckers mouth:
Why couldn't you have been born a duck!!!
OH S*&T, DUCKS!
Damn tweedy bird, you about got shot.
There's a whole bunch of duc..oh wait, tweety birds.
I about turned this mosquito into a duck
I just got ate up
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Re: Successful Decoy Spreads

Postby krazybronco2 » Mon Dec 17, 2012 7:00 pm

if you see coots find them and then the ducks will follow. watched alot of ducks land with the coots on sunday
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Re: Successful Decoy Spreads

Postby swampmaster55 » Mon Dec 17, 2012 7:51 pm

i have found that around here, a very small spread with a lot of motion decoys (NOT A MOJO) can be deadly especially when it comes down t the last few weeks of the season. id put about half a dozen to a dozen out when it gets late and if you are hunting in shallow vegetation areas get several quiver duck butts. also, the higdon pulsator does well sometimes, it's just a pain to carry around. as long as you stay away from the mojo and massive decoys spreads you should be fine.. but the most important thing is to be where the ducks wanna be.. not saying it won't work but 70% of the time if the ducks don't wanna be there, it's just hard to convince them, but yes you get lucky sometimes.. but if are where they wanna be and have a smaller motion filled deek spread then it should be DEADLY .. just make it different from the next guy...just my .02
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Re: Successful Decoy Spreads

Postby Dep6 » Mon Dec 17, 2012 10:14 pm

White for some reason works good for me in the late season, more white in the spread, whether Cans or drake ringers or what.
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Re: Successful Decoy Spreads

Postby benjaminayoung » Tue Dec 18, 2012 12:21 pm

Krazy, I found out about the motion sit-ups real quick last season. Had a group of hunters setup about 150 yds from me about 30 min from LST, threw out about a dozen deeks, a mojo, and setup a jerk rig. I was in the better spot, but he had the motion (needles to say they won that morning). Does the small spreads stand true for big water areas? If I recall correctly on big water, he who has the most deeks wins, or is that not the case in N GA? I'm also going to radio shack to figure out how to make a tiny motor for some of my deeks. I'll post pics when I'm done.

Dep, I hadn't thought about having more white in my spread. That's a location specific tip I was looking for, thanks.
Most Common phrases out of a duckers mouth:
Why couldn't you have been born a duck!!!
OH S*&T, DUCKS!
Damn tweedy bird, you about got shot.
There's a whole bunch of duc..oh wait, tweety birds.
I about turned this mosquito into a duck
I just got ate up
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Re: Successful Decoy Spreads

Postby GeorgiaDuckBuster » Tue Dec 18, 2012 12:31 pm

I have never used it but I have heard about puttin alot of eye catchin white in a spread as the season wears on. I believe I heard them talkin about puttin some pintail dekes out with there white to bring more attention. If your on the X and your stay covered up then I reckon your doin about as much as you can so just keep at it and try and make your spread move and look different then the next guy... some times less is more and some times more is more... it is a crap shoot every morning cause you don't know if your tryin to work the same birds or a new set, part of the fun though... good luck man.
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Re: Successful Decoy Spreads

Postby benjaminayoung » Thu Dec 20, 2012 1:30 am

GADB, my heart sank a bit this evening. I've been working on a prototype swimmer duck, something easily attached to any decoy, only to find out that OpenZone has several products that fit the same description. However, some of the reviews (on DHC) are not that good (either the batt dies quickly, or the device fails quickly). I was able to put together everything from store bought items, but I had the damnes't time figuring out how to attach the propeller to the motor. Finally figured it out, when i stumbled on OpenZone. in either case, I'll have several swimmers in my spread for the added motion.
Most Common phrases out of a duckers mouth:
Why couldn't you have been born a duck!!!
OH S*&T, DUCKS!
Damn tweedy bird, you about got shot.
There's a whole bunch of duc..oh wait, tweety birds.
I about turned this mosquito into a duck
I just got ate up
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Re: Successful Decoy Spreads

Postby SouthernWingsAssaultTeam » Wed Dec 26, 2012 8:28 pm

if your in the right spot...you want have to worry about a decoy spread.but i always just do the sum on one side sum on the other trick, works fine everytime
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Re: Successful Decoy Spreads

Postby jaker » Tue Jan 01, 2013 4:30 pm

sounds like your over thinking everything, here are your options,

1. your not on the x
2. your not well hidden
3. you have too many decoys out
4. your calling sucks
5. you don't have enough water motion
6. you need to leave that mojo at home


I promise you, If you are truly on the "X" then you are scaring the birds in some way. If your really on the x, why don't you just not put any decoys out, and kill them when they come in, or put just one or two on a jerk rig and leave the rest at home. I promise you, its one of those 6 things.
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Re: Successful Decoy Spreads

Postby krazybronco2 » Wed Jan 02, 2013 1:19 pm

not sure of your area or what decoys you have but have you tried woodie decoys cause if your hunting the area i think your hunting then there are alot of woodies there but get good looking one (not the gamewinner decoys) and if you are using woodies try and get them alittle more tucked into some brush like they are hiding. i have tried putting alot in the open so they can been seen and had ducks pass by but then the next hunt have most of the decoys as close as i can get them to cover and a few out in the open and had them land in the decoys (this is all for woodies in high pressured areas)
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Re: Successful Decoy Spreads

Postby krusse25 » Fri Feb 01, 2013 6:51 am

For a GA late season tip on rivers,i usually use smaller numbers and make the deeks looked paired up(male following the female,some times ill put him right off of her hip with barely any separation).The decoys have natural wake from the river so it looks good. But if the river is slow and low i use decoy with a clip on motor.My 2 cents.Good luck to ya
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Re: Successful Decoy Spreads

Postby Hbnel5on » Tue Mar 19, 2013 7:41 pm

On large ponds/ swamps try grouping them up. Say you have 24 deeks throw them out in groups of 4 / 6 instead of having one big group or V. Always helps us up here in Whitfield
And if you have west wind put them to the wind it makes it easier for the ducks to come in
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Re: Successful Decoy Spreads

Postby loner » Tue Mar 19, 2013 9:12 pm

jaker, my money is on #2!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Re: Successful Decoy Spreads

Postby MiccosukeeMeatDog » Fri Jul 26, 2013 12:26 am

When I used to hunt with my grandfather before he got Alzheimer's, he would put out every decoy he had, crappy or brand new. We were mostly huntin the center of the lake though so there was lots of open water. obviously there are situations where a pair is all you need if your just hunting small pockets.I learned to set them so that the farthest decoy is just in gun range and the closest decoy and far enough away that the ducks aren't distracted by the blind. He always painted high white patches on his drake ringer wings so they could "see em clear cross the lake." Also, coots coots and more coots is a good strategy. Coots hang it where the feed and safety is. That's all a duck wants anyway. I never really liked mixin other species of ducks together though. I would have ringers with coots but anything else was in its on group separate from my main spread. When it was windy, we would set up a tear drop formation with a couple trailers downwind to set up a "final" :wink: approach course for incoming flights. Also a J worked well with the longest shank of the J used as the trailing downwind end. Other than that, just a spread out group but always give them a place to land in gun range. Also, make sure your dekes aren't too close. Of course this was all lake hunting strategies. Rivers and wood duck holes and roost are gonna be different.

Can I ask some advice? It's my first year hunting the more southern part of Florida or maybe central, whatever you would consider Merrit Island. What are the decoy strategies around there? Segregated groups, mixed groups, small spreads, or what?
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Re: Successful Decoy Spreads

Postby Dep6 » Thu Aug 01, 2013 9:25 am

The one time that I have been to Merritt, it was small spreads, I don't think we even had half a dozen decoys out.
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Re: Successful Decoy Spreads

Postby SouthernWingsAssaultTeam » Fri Aug 02, 2013 3:51 pm

There is no magic spread that is gonna work if you dont know that already. But the main thing is be where the birds are concentrated. Make your spread look as real as possible with movement on the water. Now that doesnt even mean a certain number of decoys but just make it look like what you seen the day before when you scouted. Mojos are to catch the birds attention from afar and the movement on the water is for finishing. Match the hatch on the species of birds that you seen.
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Re: Successful Decoy Spreads

Postby SouthernWingsAssaultTeam » Fri Aug 02, 2013 4:01 pm

Also to add ..and this is just my opinion on the whole thing.. I will use a U spread or a J hook spread earlier in the year and that will work fine. But ducks get conditioned... they dont get smarter they get patterned to what is happening to them everytime they see a huge spread out in the open , ducks (decoys) in a perfect J hook , etc. Later in the year or even if it seems like they are getting somewhat skiddish change it up to something different that they are no seeing. Maybe this will help some.I by no means no everything there is and Im still learning and been hunting for 19 years. stay realistic and stay on your toes not only with decoys but everything else. Decoys my not even be the actual issue alot of times.
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Re: Successful Decoy Spreads

Postby MiccosukeeMeatDog » Sat Aug 03, 2013 8:13 pm

Like you said, bein where they wanna be us definately the most important part. I usually decrease the sizes of my spread later in the season as well.
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Re: Successful Decoy Spreads

Postby Chris6418 » Wed Nov 13, 2013 3:10 pm

I hunt big, open water so the bigger the spread, the better the commit percentage is going to be. Also, a big thing to watch out for, is setting your blind up downwind. Ducks usually like to land with their wind at their back. The reason I say this is because with the coot advice that has been given, coots can tuck into coves that are on the down wind side, leaving your blind set up on the high side. As it's been mentioned a few times before, I believe it's something you've done on land, and not in the water. If they're circling, the deeks got their attention. But something else caught their eye to make them hesitant. Check your concealment. Make sure blind bags, decoy bags, gun cases, etc. are well hidden and the blind and all of your gear looks like the surrounding habitat. Dont pie face em. Keep your eyes locked ahead and dont try to follow them when they circle behind you. If they're circling, stay OFF the call and work the jerk (but don't over work it). Keep it simple.

P.S.- In late season hunts, leave Mojos at home. Mojos should only be used during early season
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Re: Successful Decoy Spreads

Postby seminole_sigmanu » Sun Nov 17, 2013 6:15 am

I hunt ga and mainly fl. I've used upwards of 6 to 8 doz or as little as 5.

Time and location dictate everything......public land yahoos help. I've watched guys on Seminole toss out 6 doz mallards and use 4/5 mojos......then I toss out less than a doz coots and shoot birds.

I use a mojo early then swap to a jerk rig. I use 80% coots. I'll mix my divers at times. I also use super mags and a smaller #. Use of the wind is more important.

I use a C, J or 2 split groups.
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