ScaupHunter wrote:Early season I lean heavily to hens. A lot of birds are still in eclipse plumage then. Late season I still tend to place 40 % drake to 60% hens. Since my buddies and I switched out drake to hen ratios we have had far greater success at getting birds to drop their feet and suck in close.
BBK wrote:I The places where I like mostly drakes would be a marsh with a lot of brown vegetation. I feel the birds have a hard time seeing hens...
woodduck31 wrote: The observations we make from a human perspective is not always what the ducks seem to react to, so be open to other ideas and strategies.
woodduck31 wrote:We always go hen heavy now, especially with divers. Divers are often hen heavy and mature drake light. If you do counts of ducks like goldeneye and bufflehead, you'll see a lot more immature drakes and hens than you do bright white drakes. With mallards we run maybe 50/50 with the hens being in the darker range of hen color. It is difficult to get good ratios from commercial decoy companies, especially in bufflheads. My buffie spread is 3 drakes and 9 hens and the difference is decoying is night and day compared to when I had only drakes. We are doing the same thing with goldeneye, working in a dozen or so hens and immature drakes with the half dozen mature drakes. The observations we make from a human perspective is not always what the ducks seem to react to, so be open to other ideas and strategies. Mallard drakes have been finding those camouflaged hens pretty well since the beginning of time, don't underestimate their ability to see things in a defined way. We are always experimenting with decoys and decoying strategies and some things just amaze me at what the ducks react to as opposed to what I expect.
FSUDuck wrote:We always go hen heavy. I believe it looks most natural. just my 2 cents.
John Duck wrote:US Fish and Wildlife surveys from Airplanes agree and report ducks all look black from Above. DU mag has stated this a number of times.
John Duck wrote:FSUDuck wrote:We always go hen heavy. I believe it looks most natural. just my 2 cents.
US Fish and Wildlife surveys from Airplanes agree and report ducks all look black from Above. DU mag has stated this a number of times.
woodduck31 wrote:sometimes I think the best approach is to become a bird watcher. I've spent the better part of the last 43 years watching waterfowl, it's just part of being a wildlife artist. As hunters, I think we tend to pay more attention to advice we get from what other hunters tell us instead of just paying attention to what the ducks are doing in our neck of the woods. John Duck is right about goldeneye being dumb in Alaska, I lived in Fairbanks in the early 80's and over in Minto Flats where we hunted, all the ducks were dumb, that is at least until someone starts shooting at them. Every region is different when it comes to decoying birds, what works in my area may not work in yours, it's more important for you to duplicate what you see ducks doing in your hunting spot. Puddlers are a different thing when it comes to ratios than it is with divers, puddlers mature faster and generally by december the drakes are all colored up, that's not true with most divers. I took these photos in the late 70's near my home east of Emporia, Kansas. It was a couple of weeks after season had ended, so the birds were pretty comfortable sitting along the neosho river. The photos seem to be pretty drake heavy with the mallards and that would be what I'd try to duplicate if I was hunting in Kansas during the late season when several drakes are trying to cover one hen. That might not be the case during early season when you are seeing combinations of brood
Take a pair of binoculars with you when you hunt and especially when you scout and see what ratios you are observing and take note that it will often change throughout the season as birds mature. In some regions of the country, apparently ducks are so easy to decoy you can get them to come in to just about anything, but that sure isn't the case in my stretch of river. I don't pay much attention to decoy spread formations, I don't do "J" hook spreads. On the river I see mallards tucked up against the bank, so that's how I put my decoys out.
Coot decoys are also a good idea if you have them working your area, wigeon love them as do several other species, but be smart about your set up. I went with a guy a few years ago and took my coot decoys along. Since it was his party I let him set up the decoys which was a huge mistake. I guess he didn't have confidence in the coot decoys, so he said he was going to put them up stream on the river channel about 75 yards as a blocker. We got to watch every bird that decoyed land with the coots for the next couple of hours. I don't know if he learned a lesson, but I sure payed attention to what the birds were doing.
Ducks will tell you what they want to see and also what they want to hear as far as calling. Learn to read the birds, see what they react to in a positive way. If something isn't working, stop doing it, if ducks don't seem to be responding to your decoy spread, change it. Every day is different when it comes to how ducks will work, being a good observer is the most important ingredient to success.
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