Now is the time to start thinking about the blocks, the stools, the dekes, etc. If you're like me, that is, you hunt with dudes who like to shoot low, and I mean real low, you've probably got some decoys to patch or replace. My annual decoy mortality rate is an average of about a dozen to 18 sunken, pellet-ridden, deep-diving decoys and about another half dozen that loose their weights and cords. But that's just me.
With all the casualties over the years, I decided to go sink-proof this year. I custom made my very own decoys out of high density burlapped foam similar to the ones made by Herter's and Restle decoys. I tried out the first batch for teal season, and they floated and swam great. My first batch included greenwings, gray ducks and a couple others. I should have a couple dozen or so by the time the season starts. Check out the photo attached to this article.
For the last five years, I've hunted exclusively with Greenhead Gear decoys as a member of their outfitter plan. Other than sinking to the bottom when shot full of holes, I love those decoys. What kind of decoys do most people on this site use?
I am hoping people will weigh in on the waterfowl forum and talk about what decoys work the best for you. If you use wooden or cork decoys, foam, rubber, etc., let me know; maybe post a picture of your old wooden birds.
I've used pretty much everything over the last 30 years. When I started out hunting in 1979, we used Italian made Carrylites and a few hard-plastic Victors. By then, most of the Victors had split around the keel and were leaking. When I was a teenager, my grandfather gave me a sack of those Victors and some of the wooden Pascagoula decoys. I painted them to look like dogris and used them in the Bayou Bienvenue marsh in Chalmette. Wish I wouldn't have done that.
Over the years I've hunted with Flambeau, G&H, Plasti Duck, Herters, Restle and Quack decoys. For me, the G&H decoys held up the best. After Hurricane Katrina wiped out my entire flock of about 200 decoys, I switched to Greenhead Gear. They've held up great, and look as good as any I've seen.
I've been asked what species of decoys I like to hunt over. I usually say that any will work if you're in the right spot, but there are some things to consider. The fact that most decoys will work in a good location on a good day, is no reason to ignore the benefits that alternative rigs can provide.
One thing to consider in a decoy is visibility. A few big magnum or super magnum mallard and black duck decoys in addition to the spread will obviously have better drawing power than standards. Decoys with a lot of white on them can also help you get noticed. Pintails, bluebills and canvasbacks are birds that I have mixed into my spread. Without a doubt, those birds add visibility, and the ducks in Delacroix don't mind that canvasbacks are pretty rare here. I also bring 3 or 4 blue and snow goose floaters in the early season. When times are hard, these additions can make the difference.
I know some people like to alternate the line connection, tying the decoy lines to either front or rear of the decoy to give a relaxed look. Maybe that's true for calm days because that's the only time you'll see ducks facing different directions. In any wind at all, ducks will face into the wind where their feathers lay flat with the wind and not having them blown open and backwards. And besides, on a calm day your decoys will float in every which direction anyway. So why do it?
Sometimes I use a handful of coot decoys to mix in with my regular spread. I've had seasons where the flocks of coots were drawing birds. To mimic the scene, I used three dozen coots along with some others around an open-water blind. Worked great.
I'm looking forward to guiding this season with my custom-made flock. At least I'll have the sunken decoy issue worked out once and for all.
I'd love to know what kind of spreads, techniques or decoys others are using. Tell us what works for you. Maybe you have some photos of unique decoys etc. Maybe you carve you own. Log in, post them up and let's see 'em.