Let's talk decoys

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Let's talk decoys

Postby SteelKiller » Wed Oct 30, 2013 7:20 pm

What do you have in your spreads? Do you throw different sizes depending on the time of year? How many? Any particular shape or "spread" that works the best for you? I will start. I usually hunt over 2 dozen GHG mallards and a half dozen oversized buffle heads. I do have more and some times will double the mallard add a dozen wigeon and maybe six or so teal if I am hunting with a lot of competition. I have one pull string and will gang rig three or four for my jerk rig. The most productive usually seems to be less is more in my experience. I am still trying to figure out the best set up for different conditions but a "J" set or two blocks seems to work for most of my hunting. I have only been ducking a few years and am trying to learn as much as I can still. Let's hear what you throw out there!
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Re: Let's talk decoys

Postby duckstoppa » Wed Oct 30, 2013 7:25 pm

More the better
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Re: Let's talk decoys

Postby Webfootslayer » Wed Oct 30, 2013 8:03 pm

Always make my spreads look different from what the other guys are using.When the migration is on I usually mix all sorts of species in my spreads & gang rigs.I usually start with bout 2 1/2 dozen decoys then by Christmas im usually up to about 6 dozen or more.I like the "J" or swoosh spread for windy days & on the river but if im hunting ponds i just do a relaxed loafing spread, feeders sleepers resters and a few actives. theres a time and place for all decoys and when to use them.If you dont get results pull the decoys & restrategise the situation. If you scout and mimic what youve seen the day before that will give you the best results. Good luck happy hunting
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Re: Let's talk decoys

Postby Tealer » Thu Oct 31, 2013 12:46 am

Puddle Ducks I usually throw at least a couple dozen I can run 13 doz if I choose, sometimes I have a buddy bring more... I literally stand on the bank and randomly toss them most of the time. I never see ducks in patterns in the wild so I try to match the current situation. I have dumped all my old decoys and run GHG progrades, I like the poses. Spare me on the quality if you 12 slot them they hold up fine.

Divers/Sea Ducks. So many options in long lines or singles, spreads or lines. I run anywhere from 6 to 150 decoys for divers depending on where I am and what I am hunting. Most sea ducks are fairly ignorant to hunting so I use a lot less. 12 for scoters and longtails, 3 for Harli.

Geese are a whole other thing.
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Re: Let's talk decoys

Postby whtelk » Thu Oct 31, 2013 7:27 am

Never an even number (superstitious) I also place them in family groups with maybe 3 off to the side. Normally around 2 dozen. The one deep and big pond I hunt I have several Pintail drake decoys placed in the deep water on 20 line. I think the Pintail drake with his white chest is a real attractant. I would like to buy some Widgeon to go with my Teal decoys. I hunt a lot of sheet water and the Widgeon seem to like to land with Teal.... ?
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Re: Let's talk decoys

Postby whistlingwings » Thu Oct 31, 2013 9:11 am

There is no right or wrong. "Give them a place to land" "make a J" etc are ok suggestions, but I've had plenty land right in the middle of the spread. That said, I usually leave a pretty big empty space right in front of me; this gives big groups a place to land, and keeps prying eyes off of me. I've never seen ducks organize to form specific shapes in the wild...

My general approach: if I'm hunting an area with a lot of pressure ie I'm going to have someone within a few hundred yards calling the same ducks I'm calling, a bigger spread is better. If I'm in an area where there are a lot of high flyers, migrators, or just really large groups of birds in general, a bigger spread is better. Keep in mind though if you've only got one person calling and 100 decoys, you aren't going to sound natural at all.

What I really prefer though is to find honey holes...places birds really want to be, far away from anyone else. Within two hours of Eugene I've got a number of public places I hunt on a rotating basis that I'll give the honey hole tag to. I've lived in Eugene for 2 years now, couldn't hunt last year though because I was working 7 days a week, so it's not like I've been scouting this area for a decade. Put in some time scouting and you won't need 100 decoy spreads. I've hunted quite a few places where I start the morning off with zero decoys. Yes, zero. They're small holes the ducks just want to be. Or for the holes that are big enough that they *could* land out of range, a single pair of mallards. For the most part I sit quiet, throw in a soft quack and some drake, and the birds sit right in my lap because I'm where they want to be. If the birds are coming to you, why give them any reason not to? (bad calling, shiny, not-moving plastic duck replicas...) If there are any groups flying high that look like they're on a mission to somewhere else, call like normal and toss out a few keel weighted decoys right then. This "technique" only works in rare instances where you are right where the birds want to be and there isn't any other water nearby, but it's by far the best :beer:
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Re: Let's talk decoys

Postby jcmontgo » Thu Oct 31, 2013 8:43 pm

I gotta agree with the folks on just chucking ducks for the most part. I do like to leave a hole here or there and pretend that's where they will land! Small/ medium rivers I like blocking most of the river with a scattered line of decoys if I can get most of the way across.
Geese.....holy crap.....I think almost everyone (including myself) over thinks it big time. Getting hidden in my opinion is just as or more important that decoys when your field hunting. I can say.....its good to have friends with some Dave Smiths because I don't have the dough to buy any, a guy has to eat!

Late season birds may flare from your decoys but they are probably flaring from you (me). After having hunted some spots where birds have the living crap shot outta them, cutting mallard dekes and mixing widgeon, pintail, teal, buffelhead, and goldeneye has really helped. I am looking forward to hunting a few more divers this winter and am excited to try to over think how to set up diver decoys!
Decoys tend to be a bit of a point of contention in our household......apparently my wife thinks she should be able to park her car in the garage......
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Re: Let's talk decoys

Postby Tealer » Thu Oct 31, 2013 9:28 pm

Garage? Buy a trailer or two, done deal.
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Re: Let's talk decoys

Postby AnonymousDuck » Fri Nov 01, 2013 1:53 am

I use J's and U's mostly, but the hole is always based on wind direction. And of course I change/move as needed. I try to go with small sparads at the begining of the season, with more hens to drakes ratio and duck butts are good for shallower areas. I'm no expert, trial and area. So, normally a J or C with half dozen, if you can call it that with 6 deaks early in the season to increase as needed or later into the season. If its going to be a day they can't see well at the begining of the season I will put out more deaks in hopes they see them better. Who knows I may be doing it all wrong but at some point I'll try any new ideas, good luck.
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Re: Let's talk decoys

Postby JON » Fri Nov 01, 2013 3:57 pm

Big spreads look good on paper, but I have killed plenty of birds over a half dozen realistic blocks.

To those who think some people overthink it... consider this..

You know those days when them birds just won't commit? A good flight all morning but they just don't finish the way you want?

You make excuses like "stale birds", or "pressured birds". You blame the location... "birds just don't want to be here today".

Truth is...some of us just don't have those days. You know why...? we over think it. :wink:
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Re: Let's talk decoys

Postby h2ofowlr » Fri Nov 01, 2013 9:22 pm

I scout all the time and take notice to how I see the live birds set up. I set up where I see the birds and arrange my decoys based on what I saw during scouting. So, I use a hybrid set up. A little this, little that and change it up quickly if I see birds flaring off my spread.
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Re: Let's talk decoys

Postby SteelKiller » Fri Nov 01, 2013 9:38 pm

This is great discussion, much better than go away newbie and don't ask for my spots!!! :clapping: :grooving: So, if birds start flaring what's the first thing you adjust? Position, size, species? The first thing I will pull is my pull string, especially at SI! It's amazing when there are 15 spinners on a lake and you pull yours how big of a difference it makes!
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Re: Let's talk decoys

Postby h2ofowlr » Fri Nov 01, 2013 10:11 pm

Just watch the birds. Most of the time the flare off you! If not, it's because to many decoys remain motionless. Pull decoys, add motion. If they still are flaring change the spread or slide down to the point they are flaring and shoot them at that location if within range. If you have wind and they are approaching low 40 yards prior to decoys and then shooting up or peeling off move to that location, down wind. You don't have to sit on your spread, move to the most opportune spot. :thumbsup:
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Re: Let's talk decoys

Postby jcmontgo » Fri Nov 01, 2013 10:50 pm

Copy that on the trailer idea tealer.......I just bought a pop-up camper this year so my hunting funds are depleted! Im shooting for an enclosed trailer next season!
The family group thing has always been a tried and true thing with honkers and even though Alex may not buy into it :smile: , I like putting out a group of lessers with the big geese east of the cascades where lessers aren't all that common! Mixing decoys I think can also be effective. Anyone else use some of those more expensive windsock dekes? I like a handful of them on certain occasions mixed in.
Ive now also copied someone else on this forum about throwing out the wildcard decoy in my duck spread, Ive got an old canvas wrapped probably antique drake canvasback I throw out once in a while. I put it out there so when birds flare off of my dog or me jumpin around I can just blame it on the Can decoy!
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Re: Let's talk decoys

Postby JimboPDX » Fri Nov 01, 2013 11:56 pm

20' circle.

Its a chess match of location, conditions, concealment, flight, light, motion, and wind to name a few. You adjust as the day goes on. If the first set of birds that lock up but didn't seal the deal, ask why? Why did they not get into the 20' circle. And then keep asking it. If they slid off, block it. If they didn't come in or flaired, hide better, check you decoys, and add movement to the water if still. If they circled forever and bug out/slide-off open up the hole or make lane according to wind. They don't always need to be coming directly into you to be in your face. Cross shot/hides can smoke'em too. Add some decoys, take some decoys away, move them, do whatever, just do something if its not working. You might tweak it 5-10 times before you unlock the 20' circle. Each day/location is unique and go with the flow.
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Re: Let's talk decoys

Postby Webfootslayer » Sat Nov 02, 2013 6:12 am

I now use alot of family groups in my honker spreads cause if i dont there will be nowhere for them to land lol also seeing alot of lesssers & cacks in recent years so ive added lessers and revamped the whole the spread this offseason and even picked up some DS have almost 4 doz.wanna come hunting again once your done shooting swans and cranes?
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Re: Let's talk decoys

Postby jcmontgo » Sat Nov 02, 2013 1:56 pm

Man I was too late on putting in for any of those permits this year. The crane shooting off of my front porch would be pretty easy! I hunted a little pond this morning and actually there were about 60 swans and about 20 snows on it so I think the migration on our side is really picking up. No swan permits for my chunk of ground though.....gotta go east to get into more of those. I did manage to get banded drake mallard this morning, my first in Montana! Lots of migrators making their way along the rocky mountain front right now but we will freeze up in a month or so, I would love to make it back in that primo January month but we shall see. Gotta say I do like those Smiths but good lord the price tag is serious! Good luck!
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Re: Let's talk decoys

Postby SteelKiller » Sat Nov 02, 2013 8:16 pm

So we hit it hard today at SI and tried all sorts of different tactics trying to figure out what they wanted. More decoys, less decoys, further out, closer in, tight groups, loose groups, big hole, no hole....well you get the point! The birds, mostly wigeon, would flare off at about 60 yards after being locked up and coming! Really frustrating! Managed 2 birds out of seal 2 but if the ones working would have finished it could have been banner! One of the 2 was a mallard mixed with park duck!! I just saw a green head and dumped him! Didn't see birds committing to anyone out there really today so I don't feel terrible about it!
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Re: Let's talk decoys

Postby Tealer » Sat Nov 02, 2013 9:01 pm

It's not always the decoys.......
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Re: Let's talk decoys

Postby h2ofowlr » Sat Nov 02, 2013 11:34 pm

Tealer wrote:It's not always the decoys.......


They may be something else it sounds like. Blind, hunters, etc.
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Re: Let's talk decoys

Postby SteelKiller » Sun Nov 03, 2013 10:17 am

We did modify our hide a bit in hopes that would help. Even moved the whole set of decoys away from the blind in hopes that would help! Both of us were well hidden, full camo and paint as normal! We thought it may have been all the competition but once we had the whole lake to ourselves it didn't get better! On a side not, I saw a lot of shots taken at 60+ yards. That's a little further than I like to shoot but it was working for them, I like the feet down approach better. For me it's not just about stacking up bird numbers but being able to get them to finish. That's the win for me!
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Re: Let's talk decoys

Postby JON » Sun Nov 03, 2013 10:30 am

U running a spinner?

Jerk cord?

Was the water placid or choppy?
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Re: Let's talk decoys

Postby SteelKiller » Sun Nov 03, 2013 10:35 am

I was running a pull string, I left the jerk rig at home. Water was choppy and my decoys were dancing quite nicely. I removed the pull string, adjusted its height and moved it several times. I think I tried everything!
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