Ducks Decoying, the fine art of change
When ducks season is about to begin every hunter on areas along migration routes will be setting up decoys to attract ducks attention and beat them but, which is the difference between a success decoy setting and an unsuccessful one? The answer is realism.
Ducks have a keen eyesight and are able to identify patterns as well differentiate fake from real, thus setting up decoys is not just a matter to put fake ducks randomly out there, instead it's an art to render decoys realistic enough to catch ducks attention and even more, cheat the birds!
To achieve this goal there's a few key tips which can make the difference between a total fail or a big success.
1. Avoid patterns, instead use natural spread
Try to see several ducks flocks and evaluate how they group on the ground and water; you will be aware that a perfect geometric pattern is not there, furthermore, inside a flock there are different grouping systems, then while many ducks may stand close together, other groups are spread around in couples or small groups, hence if you wish to increase your odds, try to mimic natural grouping patterns.
2. Never leave your decoys overnight
Ducks are intelligent birds and they will realize your are cheating them if they see decoys on the same position day after day; obviously that's not a natural behavior and they will stay away from an area where a duck (a decoy one) has not moved an inch in several days!
So, in order to avoid mistakes, put away your decoys every night and set up them again each day; by doing this you will be mimicking natural patterns, furthermore it's hard to achieve the very same decoys disposition each time if you set them every day and such positioning variation will be seen more natural than a long term, once settled decoy on the area.
3. Decoys number must change depending of the season time
At the very beginning it's better to set few decoys and increase the number while the migrating flocks increase; later, when water pools are fewer, decrease decoys number again. That's the way ducks group on nature, hence it's the way you must set up decoys in order to render your trap as natural as possible.
4. Add some movement
Ducks are not static on the water; they move and swim around making waves and splashes, thus you must try to mimic such movement patterns to be realistic. Try not only sitting ducks but also resters, sleepers, surface feeders, some duck butts and even some full body decoys at the water edges. Additionally try to set decoys on areas where they can be moved by the wind or water current to render them even more realistic.
Some hunters adds water jerk strings to create waves on water surface, especially on calm days.
5. Evaluate Ducks Reactions
No matters how good you think your decoys are placed, your final jury are ducks; hence if they slide the edge or circle several times your decoying area just to keep their way without demonstrating interest, things are not going good and it's time to make some changes to fit the situation.
Don't be afraid to improvise and implement some changes on the go if you don't see ducks interests on your decoying area, their reaction is a thermometer allowing you to make real time changes in order to increase your odds. If you are able to read ducks reactions and react properly, success is guaranteed!
Now, it's time to beat those birds! Good Luck!