Drake to Hen Ratio?

Duck hunting for diver species like Canvasbacks, Redheads, Ringnecks, Eiders, Goldeneye and other diver ducks.

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Drake to Hen Ratio?

Postby gad daddy » Thu Aug 15, 2013 3:36 pm

What kinda drake to hen ratio do I need for best results on canvasbacks? I've heard 50/50 is most people's preference?
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Re: Drake to Hen Ratio?

Postby ncbufflehead » Sat Aug 17, 2013 4:42 pm

Only puddle duck hunters worry about silly things like that.
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Re: Drake to Hen Ratio?

Postby Smith » Sun Aug 18, 2013 11:53 am

50/50 is by far the most used ratio, and for good reason. That's how most of the decoy makers package them for sale. In reality, I don't think it matters, although some guys like lots of white for visibility on sunny days. Of course, on cloudy days you'd want them all black for the same reason.
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Re: Drake to Hen Ratio?

Postby Shade » Mon Aug 19, 2013 10:29 am

I have actually decided to test this theory. Last year I ran a spread of nearly all Drakes. There were 6 total hens in my usual spread of 8 dozen. To be honest, I wasn't happy with the result. Some species decoyed just fine and others not so much. I had 0 Cans, Oldsquaw, and Redheads actually decoy. They usually sat down outside the spread. Very few Buffies and Goldeneye actually decoyed. Bluebills, Ringnecks. and Scoter (Had all 3 Scoters last year) seemed not to care and they decoyed nicely all season.

Disclaimer: There are not very many Cans or Reds where I did the majority of my Diver Hunting last season. I have hunted divers enough to know when to change up the spread to get the desired result. And most of the time the hunters were very well hidden. Seemed like nothing I changed made any difference. Those species either didn't like the ratio, didn't like the other species I threw out, or I just wasn't quite on the "X". Hopefully after the next two seasons, I will have more Data to draw conclusions from. This year I plan on running close to a 50/50 drakes to hens spread. I am excited to see the results. Next year I am going to run a 25% Drake/75% Hen spread and see what happens.
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Re: Drake to Hen Ratio?

Postby ScaupHunter » Tue Aug 20, 2013 10:52 am

Shade, Scrap 50 / 50 and hunt a 25 / 75 or 40 / 60 ratio drake to hen ratio. My new foamer spread is being made up of mainly hens. My buddies and I rarely hunt more than 25% drakes. Early season and early in the late season we often only hunt hen decoys with a few drakes thrown out at the perimeter of the spread for visibility.

Buffies like one drake to 3 or 4 hens. I had great success decoying and landing a variety of divers and puddlers over the spread numbers listed above. Hens don't like to land with to high of a drake count since they get harrassed by them a lot. That alone can turn a flight of birds. Add in that the drakes want to hit the water in a bunch of hens so they can harrass them and you have a one two punch draw for a flight on the wing. Which party do you want to go to? The one that is mainly guys with attached women, or the one with all the single hotties and only 5 guys?


I have learned from a reliable source that using very little red in the decoys works best in the areas we hunt, etc.... low drake count and higher hen count works here. You also want to keep your GE's seperated from the main decoys spread. Same with BH's.
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Re: Drake to Hen Ratio?

Postby gad daddy » Wed Aug 21, 2013 7:39 pm

Thanks for the info guy's,,,,Sound like I need to do some trading on decoys, Because I have mostly drakes. In all diver species
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Re: Drake to Hen Ratio?

Postby Reeba » Wed Aug 21, 2013 8:51 pm

Are hen mallard decoys close enough to use in place of diver hens?
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Re: Drake to Hen Ratio?

Postby ScaupHunter » Thu Aug 22, 2013 8:41 am

I think that could work. Hen Mallard decoys are much lighter than actual hen divers. If you have extra decoys, just paint them up as hen divers of the species you hunt. You can also repaint your drake decoys as hens. Cheap, pretty easy, and the paint job doesn't have to be perfect just close.

Last year all my hen diver decoys were flat black and the drakes fully painted. They worked great. The divers bombed right into the deeks all season.
Last edited by ScaupHunter on Thu Aug 22, 2013 1:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Drake to Hen Ratio?

Postby eagles2069 » Thu Aug 22, 2013 8:56 am

Hey Scaup when are you going to finally post up some pics of your massive decoy spread you have been building this year. I have been waiting to see some of them or maybe I just missed the post.
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Re: Drake to Hen Ratio?

Postby apexhunter » Thu Aug 22, 2013 12:46 pm

Even though most diver hens have some white coloration to them and most decoy "packs" come with a 50/50 mix I always repainted my deeks with more drakes than hens for the visibility (or bought drakes whenever possible with the old Herters foam decoys) and simply place the majority of the hens scattered around the landing holes of the spread. The drakes with the drastic color differences of black and white versus hens with muted brown, grey and some white are much more visible from distance and with divers this makes the spread easier to spot by passing birds. Divers typically fly lower than puddle ducks so making the spread more visible is always a good thing IMHO and I typically use more canvasback deeks simply because there is more white on them than on bluebills.
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Re: Drake to Hen Ratio?

Postby ScaupHunter » Thu Aug 22, 2013 1:47 pm

I can see a flock of divers at 2 miles from a layout boat just fine. Ducks can see the same flock from 3 to 10 feet off the water. Long distance from above the birds will see a black silhouette first then pick up the white as they move closer to the deeks. It doesn't take that many drakes around the perimeter of a spread to create the visual effect you need with the white in the spread.

The entire white color on decoys thing is pretty much bunk. Mid range white is highly visible and can help. At close range to much of it can flare birds. Now add in that every other hunter out there is putting the same ration of drakes to hens out as you are, and it can impact hard or moderately hunted birds.

Always work to be the guy with the spread that matches what you are seeing in the field. Watch the birds and see how they react to your spread. Don't be afraid to change things up if your spread isn't working, and give the high hen to drake ration a try. Teal find other tiny teal visually from very long distances where they can see nothing but black sihouettes. If you are worried about visibility use a black flag and work it to draw attention. And don't be afraid when matching the hatch isn't working to step out on a limb and be totally different. I have pulled huge flocks of BB with 8 decoys when everyone else was running 100 or more. Being the odd guy out when everyone was flaring birds put limits in the boat at the end of season.
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Re: Drake to Hen Ratio?

Postby Mean Gene » Sat Aug 24, 2013 5:26 pm

According to real ducks on the water it depends on what species you're chasing. Cans and bluebills have more drakes than hens, ringnecks have even more drakes than hens, buffleheads have way more hens than drakes, goldeneyes have more drakes than hens. In reality it probably doesn't make much difference. Decide what YOU want to look at and hunt it. :thumbsup:
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Re: Drake to Hen Ratio?

Postby don novicki » Sat Aug 24, 2013 6:00 pm

Do yourself a favor and don't sweat it. Spray paint all your decoys black. I run G&H super mag Bills, all black....works for me
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Re: Drake to Hen Ratio?

Postby ScaupHunter » Mon Aug 26, 2013 12:54 am

eagles2069 wrote:Hey Scaup when are you going to finally post up some pics of your massive decoy spread you have been building this year. I have been waiting to see some of them or maybe I just missed the post.


I am just finishing up the paint on 4 dozen blue bills along with 2 dozen mallards and pintails. Keep your eye on the decoy forum I will be posting pics of the spread in week or so.
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Re: Drake to Hen Ratio?

Postby ILgoosehunter12 » Tue Aug 27, 2013 1:35 pm

I have 0 hens in my diver rig. 0. you know what? get great results. i dont believe in all that garbage "you have to have this amount of hens to this amount of drakes". no, IMO, being on the X is the key. not how many hens you have to how many drakes you have. scout, scout, scout. if you are where the ducks want to be, you shouldnt have to use A decoy at all.
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Re: Drake to Hen Ratio?

Postby ncbufflehead » Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:50 pm

ILgoosehunter12 wrote:I have 0 hens in my diver rig. 0. you know what? get great results. i dont believe in all that garbage "you have to have this amount of hens to this amount of drakes". no, IMO, being on the X is the key. not how many hens you have to how many drakes you have. scout, scout, scout. if you are where the ducks want to be, you shouldnt have to use A decoy at all.

There's a puddle ducker amongst us. I told yall diver hunters don't discuss this foolishnes
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Re: Drake to Hen Ratio?

Postby ILgoosehunter12 » Wed Aug 28, 2013 10:31 pm

ncbufflehead wrote:
ILgoosehunter12 wrote:I have 0 hens in my diver rig. 0. you know what? get great results. i dont believe in all that garbage "you have to have this amount of hens to this amount of drakes". no, IMO, being on the X is the key. not how many hens you have to how many drakes you have. scout, scout, scout. if you are where the ducks want to be, you shouldnt have to use A decoy at all.

There's a puddle ducker amongst us. I told yall diver hunters don't discuss this foolishnes


what foolishness?
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Re: Drake to Hen Ratio?

Postby ScaupHunter » Thu Aug 29, 2013 8:10 am

I have seen plenty of flocks flare over an all drake diver spread. With a mix of hens in the spread that decreased. With the most of the flock being hens flaring stopped completely. If you are working hard hunted birds the ratio can make a difference. Keep a log of your hunting days and go back through it at the end of the season and you will start to see patterns that are very obvious when you keep records.
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Re: Drake to Hen Ratio?

Postby ncbufflehead » Thu Aug 29, 2013 9:23 am

ILgoosehunter12 wrote:
ncbufflehead wrote:
ILgoosehunter12 wrote:I have 0 hens in my diver rig. 0. you know what? get great results. i dont believe in all that garbage "you have to have this amount of hens to this amount of drakes". no, IMO, being on the X is the key. not how many hens you have to how many drakes you have. scout, scout, scout. if you are where the ducks want to be, you shouldnt have to use A decoy at all.

There's a puddle ducker amongst us. I told yall diver hunters don't discuss this foolishnes


what foolishness?

drake to hen ratio :rolleyes:



Honestly, I think you would flare less birds with a all hen spread than you will with a all drake spread. But what "ratio" is putting a little to much thought into it.
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Re: Drake to Hen Ratio?

Postby ncbufflehead » Thu Aug 29, 2013 9:27 am

IMO, hen decoys work better on pressured birds because most guys are using a lot of drakes
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Re: Drake to Hen Ratio?

Postby Shade » Thu Aug 29, 2013 11:06 am

:shades:
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