Cork Decoys

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Cork Decoys

Postby Rise and Shine Retrievers » Wed Feb 12, 2014 7:49 am

IMO Nothing floats like a Cork decoy


One year I spent the BIG bucks and bought LL Bean cork mallards. Early season they're to heavy to carry into remote locations. Late season, cold temps, they never had a chance to dry between hunts and ended up being frozen blocks of ice. Also, the tail is a piece of wood slid into a slot in the cork. If a decoys tail was perched on to of anything else, and you applied any pressure, the wooden tail popped off the top chunk of cork, rendering the decoy worthless.
Remember, this was before the days of slotted decoy bags, the dekes were being stacked (thrown) in the front of the boat. We're not easy on gear.

Just wondering what others experiences have been.
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Re: Cork Decoys

Postby papageno » Wed Feb 12, 2014 8:31 am

I have a beautiful set of 8 mallards, 2 blacks and a pair of teal carved by a fellow named Ron Laber from Cambridge, MD. I bought them in 2000 with a canvas slotted bag. They are much more lifelike than the llbeans, but must be handled with reasonable care.

I don't bother using them early season because ducks decoy to anything, but once they are educated, corkers do the trick. I strongly believe (I'm never certain about anything in duck hunting) that circling birds recognize the glare of plastic decoys, especially on sunny days. Corkers also look much more alive on calm water. As soon as I see the mallards start circling and not committing, I break out them out. Wary mallards regularly circle high five times and then scream in, even at the end of the season in heavily hunted spots. They, combined with a subtle call (see NH chat :yes: ) do the trick.

In my canoe, I would take them all. In the Creekboat, I leave a pair of mallards behind. A half dozen of them works great and teal will spot and decoy to a pair of their own just fine (well maybe not for Maine teal, but in NJ and MD they do). I would like to carve a pair of pintails for the set.

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Re: Cork Decoys

Postby 733SubDucker » Wed Feb 12, 2014 10:15 am

I grew up hunting with cork. They were very nice and my family hunted them hard for decades. They were also very heavy and easily damaged even with care (broken tails boards / cork and head dowels mostly). The survivors now hang from the rafters of our family camps as décor and nostalgia pieces.

Don't get me wrong, if you want to unload your money and or time on them, corkers can be great.

For my puddle duck hunting, give me decent plastic decoys any day. In late season flat water, a jerk string or two is the perfect medicine. :hammer:
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Re: Cork Decoys

Postby Seaductor » Wed Feb 12, 2014 10:39 am

I picked up a dozen LL Bean corkers last year. They are too heavy and suck up water like a sponge! They also have the annoying habit of staying on their back instead of self righting if they land upside down. I gave my son a half dozen with a padded slotted bag. Nice nostalgia piece that he'll hunt and hand down to my Grandson someday. I kept the other 1/2 dozen and use them once or twice last season. Pain in the rear really! Give me my G&H "Clown" Mallards any day! Less weight, paint doesn't chip and they take abuse!!!

Aesthetically, I admit it feels nice to hunt over cork decoys!! But I feel good when I'm gunning birds over any decoy. I feel especially good when I'm wailing them over a pair or 3 mojos!!! :lol3:
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Re: Cork Decoys

Postby waterfowlah » Thu Feb 13, 2014 12:07 pm

I built all My corkers, I was mentored By a guy in Hampton falls. All mine were dipped in spar varnish to seal, and then painted. as far as the Heads they were attached to the keel with a 1/2" oak dowel, the tails boards were made of 3/8" pine and only tapered at the edge to keep them as strong as possible. Weight wise they are heavy, But I think that's why they look so good on the water.
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Re: Cork Decoys

Postby tgs » Thu Feb 13, 2014 6:13 pm

Hmmmm. I hunt bean corkers too. I usually hunt 6 to 12 big blocks (blacks/mallards) and then a pair of geese and 3 or 4 wood ducks, the later two are plastics. Everything is kept in slotted bags and typically paddled or motored into place. I'm not too worried about weighted keels as I don't throw my decoys when setting up. I like the way they ride and I like to look at them too, I don't think the birds care much either way though.
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Re: Cork Decoys

Postby decoycarver » Sat Feb 15, 2014 12:04 pm

made my first ones in 73, sold them to a man for $ 10 ea, as a 13 year old I thought wow im rich !!--old cork from a Factory being torn down-then while visiting LL Beans that summer , my Dad took me to meet George Soul at his old shop on Flying point, he took the time all day and taught me his way, I made and finished 8 Black ducks, some got painted..well the LL Beans of today --suck !! George must be rolling in his resting place --brittle cork full of gaps/holes.skinny, non consistant heads etc, floating sponge !!--you can still buy black quality cork, or the top of the line Tan close grain cork.--cost effective depends on how you feel what you can afford, care is needed, to maintain, like the replies indicate the Tails and Heads are breakable--same as old hand carved wooden ones--remember we pick decoys up by their heads right ??--this is why antique decoys un used or damaged are top price at auctions.( $ 856,000.00) unused Merganser Hen by Lathrop Holmes of Mass, circa late 1880's !--I have reasonable prices-if interested pm me. serious offers only-I will also teach carving, I will answer questions too.
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Re: Cork Decoys

Postby papageno » Sat Feb 15, 2014 2:55 pm

Decoycarver…. I gave some folks your DHC name on a similar thread on the NJ forum. I look forward to carving the pinne pair I want to add to the spread with you this summer.
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Re: Cork Decoys

Postby decoycarver » Sun Feb 16, 2014 12:11 pm

Papageno- I have hundreds of patterns from sleepers to feeders etc. a pair of Pintails show up nice in the rig.i like 2 Drakes and a Hen still need to get heat in the Garage/ Shop--I like to have all my fingers--difficult to carve and Shiver !! :thumbsup: did you snow Goose Hunt yet -if not when ?-Where ?-hope you painting you should paint a Duck Stamp..be good and keep you head above the snow line--be glad your tall !!
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Re: Cork Decoys

Postby titleguy » Thu Feb 27, 2014 11:31 am

With exception of some plastic full bodies, I hunt all cork. Some are old Soules, some are NJ birds ( including my brant spread) and some were made by a guy in Maryland called Alan Eastman. I bought those blocks in the mid 90s and they have hunted hard. I also have a wooden boat and shoot a double gun and like waxed cotton over goretex....
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Re: Cork Decoys

Postby native brookie » Thu Feb 27, 2014 6:49 pm

For about the same price as LL Bean corks, you can get gunners grade black ducks from Sneakbox Decoys down in York County.

I have a half dozen and the ducks love them.
http://www.sneakboxdecoy.com/

I'm sure there are other local sources who need the money more than Beans does.
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Re: Cork Decoys

Postby waterfowlah » Mon Mar 03, 2014 11:00 am

met him one day hunting, nice guy really nice dekes
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