Duck Hunting Forum banner
1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
110 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
All my life I've been using a boatload of G&H's, Flambeau's and I may even still have some Carrylite's. I'm currently sitting on around 15 dozen floaters and it's taking up a lot of room and I rarely use them.

I recently got one of the cork decoys from Taylor Decoys in the mail and I'm thinking about selling all my plastics and going to just 2-3 dozen corks. The detail is incredible and in the bathtub, it floats so much better than plastic I can't even compare.

I know I can't be the only one who's contemplated or have already done this, but I was looking for opinions.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
450 Posts
that is definitely my goal i always wanted herters but those taylors look great. for me it would make the hunt that much more sweet! i used to hunt deer and elk and javalina but now all i do is duck hunt i don't spend any $ on anything else, so it would be a great investment for me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,919 Posts
if you think they float in a natural position in your tub....just wait until you're out on the water and a wind kicks up.....cork is the top of the line from my perspective....... second is burlapped foam.....they are more durable and are a close second in riding the water if keel weighted properly.....for some reason cork decoys and foamers can really draw the birds....alot less detail of course on most gunners, but they have draw power that just doesn't come from even the highest grade plastics IMO (another reason I think all the detail bunk is for the hunters and not the birds)

Taylors are quite nice, but pretty expensive (any cork deke is expensive I guess.... and I bought LLBean and Herter's that I use all winter on big water)

As for burlapped foamers, you can have a dozen for the cost of three corks and they are just as effective.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
450 Posts
dukhtr wrote:
(another reason I think all the detail bunk is for the hunters and not the birds)
i agree with you there! i like the way the foam rides the water, i think they look more real. i know the corks might be better. i will have me some sometime. a doz mallards and a dozen bluebills.
you know a sample cork deke from taylor would make an awesume prize for a giveaway for this site! :thumbsup:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
172 Posts
Actually it all depends on what you prefer. I carve cork decoys for a living and I will be the first one to tell you that they are ok, but they are not the best for every situation. In fact to me cork is inferior to styrofoam and plastic. I would rather have custom styros than I would corks and I would rather have plastics as to custom styros.

There are two kind of cork..... Tan and Black.
Black cork is natural cork binded with natural binders, as well as rocks, sticks, and other trash. It is the first type of cork that was used for decoys. It can be made strong, but by nature most crumbles easy. Depending on the supplier most black cork has large voids in it.
Tan cork is cork that is grinded up and binded with synthetic materials. It tends to be heavier than the black cork and cleaner. It is stronger than the black and easier and cleaner to work with.
Cork has to be sealed or else it will soak up water, get heavy, and more than likely crack. Shot holes have to be repaired. You need to check for damage daily. Also you have to be careful with them..... these aren't plastics that you can just throw around, step on, abuse and expect them to last. They are fragile by nature.
Cork rides the water naturally. Of course so does pumice from a volcano, as does anything else that is natural. A rock can sink naturally, because it's from nature. The old saying, "Cork rides natural" was just a ploy when styros came along and folks were buying them instead of corks. It was a sales pitch, which is still very much alive today. You can throw a block of cork on the water and it is going to ride naturally. What happens though when you shape that block? You change it. What happens when you add a piece of wood to the top of it? You change it. What happens when you add weight to the bottom? You still change it. What about width of the decoy, chine of the decoy, and countless of other factors? All of this matters. A round bottom decoy will roll and skate much more than a decoy with a hard chine. Alot of factors go into making a decoy float properly. You don't just make a decoy and expect it to ride perfect.... you have to work on it to do this. Without alot of work styros ride great. Some plastics ride great as well straight out of the box. I can get any plastic to ride right just by adding weight to the keel.
Last year we hunted Lake Barkley in three foot swells. We had several corks, wooden, styros, and plastics from several different makers. Every single decoy by a different maker rode differently. It all has to do with construction of the decoy, and weight. I saw corks that rolled and skate and I saw some the held true..... but the same went for plastics.

There are very few cork makers that will just paint the natural cork for it to retain it's properties. Most makers now days slap the paint on really thick, use texturing paste and gesso, or texture the bird by other means. This takes away the dullness and feather-like properties from the cork. I use a non-skid type coating on my decoys, but then I add a thick layer of plastic type paint over the top of it. So with the thick layer of plastic paint, I now have plastic, instead of natural cork showing through. There are very few folks that make natural looking cork decoys now days. Taylor, Herter's, and L.L. Bean happen to be a few. Of course each makes them different with different materials for heads. Taylor uses styrofoam, Herter's uses hollow plastic, and L.L. Bean uses wood.

Any time you add something or take something away from something, you are changing the properties of it. What it be a bit of material, wooden head, styro head, weight, paint, gesso, texture, or anything else.

Depnding on the material used, decoys can be too heavy to carry, or too heavy to use even from a boat. Yep, even too heavy for a boat. Sometimes we have to run 15 miles up river with 4 dozen or more decoys, and three people all being pushed by a 25 HP motor. You can sure run alot faster with 48 plastics than you can 48 corks. Yep, I guess I could get a bigger motor, but for most situations, the motor I have is perfect. I can also hual 200 plastics in a boat to where you wouldn't want to do that with corks..... safety would be a huge concern. Alot of times we walk into areas so corks are automatically out. Plastics are just better for the most part in my situation.

I went from 5 styros to 2 dozen plastics to well over 1000 plastics/milk jugs down to 500 styros down to 48 corks/custom styros/ 50 Y-boards up to 500 plastics...... soon to be 1000. I don't use 1000 decoys all of the time, but there are times that we need them....... easier to store them than need them and not have them.
Arkansas just ain't about timber and rice fields. We hunt all different kinds of water here... from big water, rivers, swamps, flood waters, and everything else. The only time the birds don't get a good look at our decoys for long periods of time is in the timber.

It all depends on what you want in a decoy. For me plastics is better. I use the most realistic plastics I can find. Corks are not the magic, solve all decoy..... in fact they are more of a pain to me.
Like anything else, try some corks and see if you like them. That's the ONLY WAY you will ever find out. :thumbsup:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,919 Posts
nice write up Swamp.....I agree with alot of your comments....I guess we both left out 'tradition' and 'style'.......cork has alot of each and that is important to alot of waterfowlers I think....at least it is to me........and for some darn reason I got on this 'kick' last year and have been into the burlapped foamers with basswood heads......I guess it is an econimisc issue more than anything....I needed a large set for a new MLB.....and was not going to get what I needed from cork in the time I had.....I know alot of the carvers out there look down on the foam guys, but I went from cork to foam (maybe that makes me even lower)....although I'll still do corks....I certainly haven't given in completely
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
172 Posts
DUKHTR,
Traditon and style....... hmmmmm. Man that's a real tough one.
To really be honest, there is no traditon of carving around here unless you get up into the hills.... most of that is just folk art type stuff and not many decoys. Those decoys are folk art type stuff too. Back when my Grandpa was growing up most of the Delta of Arkansas was just trees. Wasn't until he was 30 when farming started taking over in the Delta. He has often told me about the sea of trees reaching from the Ozarks to the Mississippi. Their main tool was the live decoys. After live decoys were outlawed, they still used them for a long time. Later on they used duck calls to pull the birds thorugh the trees. I can remember as a kid alot of the places that are fields now were once huge plots of timber. Our main tool was the duck call. I guess I was about 8 or 10 years of age when I got my first decoys..... they were five old rat chewed stryos that were painted flat black. Decoys weren't that big in this part of the country. The main traditon is this area was the duck call.
Since we didn't have any traditions of decoys here, we really don't have any style.

There were a few old guys that made styro decoys back in the 70's. They made them for several folks around here. One guy was Lemial Taylor. I have a bunch of his decoys, but they are in bad shape from abuse. I know some guys that have some that look brand new. I used to have the molds he used. They were stolen when someone broke into my shop when I lived in town.
The bigger clubs were about the only ones that had wooden decoys.... and they were factory wooden decoys.

So would traditional decoys in this area be styrofoams? Were does traditional start?

I agree with you though.... carving is not cheap at all. I can buy a dozen plastics for what I can buy cork materials for one decoy. Don't get me wrong, I love carving and it's fun to hunt over the handmade decoys...... but we have too much of a run and gun style of hunting.

What's funny is to see these guys carving wood and cork decoys and talking down foam and plastics, but the whole time you see them post pics of plastics and foams in their spreads. :laughing:

There's nothing wrong with hunting over what you want to hunt over or making what you want to make. I like experimenting with everything. If I ever get the foam I am going to start carving alot more of it. :thumbsup:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,621 Posts
interesting stuff swamp hunter. i thought my fantasy decoy spread was all corks. second thoughts now. i am rough on decoys. corks would never last. and when one of my plastic dekes gets shot i just fill it with styofoam.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
450 Posts
swamp hunter wrote:
There's nothing wrong with hunting over what you want to hunt over or making what you want to make. I like experimenting with everything. If I ever get the foam I am going to start carving alot more of it.
i would like to try some corks. i like the way they look. i know they are not the magic deke, i just like them. i like the lack of detail in the herters foamers, and the corks, just my style i guess.
great posts swamphunter! thats why i'm on these sites is to learn stuff like that. so, is the herters cork tan or black?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,919 Posts
sorry to get too emotional around the tradition thing Swamp.....cork and cedar are traditional blocks in MY area (Northeast / Mid-Atlantic Coast)......which is kinduv the reason I went that route twenty years ago....kinduv an "upgrade" from plastic in MY perspective......and I'm no hooty-tooty!....just a gunner....and it took alot of sweat $ to get the corks back then....fortunately I put every tip dollar from my guiding and 'invested' in the Bean Coastals and a few Herter's before making my own.

Swamp makes a super point about care.....corks do require alot more care than plastics for sure....I use compartment bags ALWAYS, and for the better dekes I made I even put in fleece bags inside the compartments! I also rinse and clean them often....salt tidal flow and ice can wreak havac on the breast areas.....gotta be super careful about tailboards and bills and not toss the bags into the truck or boat....I probably go way overboard on care of decoys....but I have some pretty old equipment that is in 90% or better condition (in fact I guess that goes for all my stuff)! Even my plastics which I keep handy for the beaver pond walk-ins are from the 70's (when the paint was good!) and only a couple years ago re-painted "just because".

Great comments ! Thanks! You certainly have a wonderful perspective and it appears we respect our 'stuff' and we each go the 'extra'!!!!

------

Now -- regarding foamers.......man I can't get enough ovum....burlapped a pair this morning (alert drake mallard and a sleeper hen Black)....and applied the keel to what will be a rester hen mallard.......they are for a silent auction coming up locally........ I'll post up some pics when they are finished!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
172 Posts
Had,
The Herter's corks are made from Black Cork. It makes great looking decoys.
If you want to carve I can tell you how I learned.

Here's a few pictures of some of my early work:

http://www.duckboats.net/carvers/ladd.htm

The Hooded Merganser was my first decoy and the Black Duck was my second. The heads were done around that time.

The Wood Duck and Wigeon was when I was first learning to airbrush.

The Canvasback was my first full wooden decoy, which ended up being finished out and auctioned off for Delta Waterfowl.

I do alot better work than I did back then. I don't have any pics on the net anywhere of newer decoys or I would post them. Carving is reall not that hard at all. It's all in the technique. There are several different techniques you can learn by. I find it easier for me to watch someone..... either in person or by videos than anything else. Some folks use books, but I can't really learn from pictures unless it shows everything step by step and has to be a really good step by step with lots of explanation. Of course the explanations can't be too long or else they get boring. :laughing:
Lots of different ways to learn.
Here's a good one and it's free as well. This is the same place I ordered the videos from and buy almost all of my supplies as well:

http://www.theduckblind.com/cyberclassroom/index.htm

I really recommend the videos though, because he shows alot more in the videos. They have two sections in the videos as well..... one is for hand tools and one is for power tools. You learn to paint hen & drake bluebills and hen & drake mallards. You also get a mallard pattern, a bluebill pattern, and a tool list as well. Check out the site in full and take a look at Murphy's Markdowns. There are some really good deals on the page. Package number 8 would be great for someone starting out in hand tools. I have gotten to where I use hand tools alot for getting the general shape of the body. For the head I use a Dremel alot. If I am doing decoys in mass quanity though I do break out the Foredom for hogging away alot of wood and cork. :mrgreen:
BE WARNED: It gets addictive and bad addictive!

DUKHTR,
No problem at all. I can totally understand.
I totally understand about getting materials too. Hard to get anything worth a crap in my area. Most of the time it's easier and cheaper just to order the stuff, because once I pay out phone calls and gas I could just have well spent the extra money on shipping.

I agree on the comparment style bags. They will help a bit. I used to just put everything in the bottom of the boat. That took a huge toll on the paint, bills, and tails.

I do have a question........Instead of burlapping your foamers, have you ever tried applying a trestle coating? I done it on some old foam decoys that I had laying around and some E Allens and this stuff is really tough. You use a bit more paint on each decoy, but it has held up great. I haven't had to touch them up in 3 years and they still look like I just applied the paint. Might be something to try??
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,919 Posts
I have not tried trestle Swamp.....thanks for the tip....have used cork dust/epoxy....have used three coats of dri-lock with texture paste/gesso over the dri-lock and they are sweet...very lightweight and they 'swim' at the hint of a breeze.....I'll look into the trestle!
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top