Tips on Setting Up a Duck Decoy Spread
If you’re a serious waterfowler, there is one thing you need to understand – to get ahead of the competition in hunting waterfowl, you need to pull out all of the stops and do everything possible to set yourself apart. Improve your shooting skills, scout for waterfowl harder and, most important of all, wade out there and setup the best decoy spread possible.
In areas where there is a larger amount of hunting pressure, ducks wise up to things which look a little fishy, and any ducks which survive one hunting season will be more aware of things which look out of the ordinary.
This, for you, makes hunting them that little bit harder and this is why it is imperative that you set up a decoy spread which will give you the best possible advantage over the most switched on waterfowler and all the other hunters in your area.
So wear some decent hand protection and let us walk you through setting up a duck decoy spread in the water.
1. Arrange Spreads Efficiently
There are a few things which you need to remember when setting up your decoy –
- Ducks always land into the wind;
- Ducks don’t fly over other ducks on final approach;
- Ducks will rarely approach decoys which lead towards solid ground.
Weight up and arrange your decoys efficiently, so it not only makes it easy for them to land, but makes them want to land. You can convince ducks to approach your land-based by spread by making the water look crowded – although ducks will choose a water landing over a land-based landing, they will always choose to land where there is less of a crowd.
2. Leave Room for Landing
Especially if you are also catching geese. Geese need a lot of room to land, and large geese don’t just drop conveniently into your spread, they glide in and if there isn’t a clear path for landing you are not going to have much success.
Try to arrange your spread parallel to the banks of a river, this will give ducks and geese a much longer glide path towards your decoy spread and maximize your catch. You can also use a number of different decoys and position them towards the center of your spread – that’s where ducks and geese will focus – causing them to fly right into the middle of your decoy.
3. Surround It with Water
When it comes to setting up your decoys, ice can be one of the most challenging things which gets in your way. Thick ice can easily be broken up with the right tools, turning it into free-floating sheets which can be dunked under the surface of the water and surrounding ice – this creates an open area where you can set your decoys up.
Surprisingly, thinner skim ice is a lot more challenging than thick ice because it will break into several small pieces. You can use a motor or drive through it if the water is shallow to properly break it up. Small shards of broken skim ice reflect sunlight which can startle goose and geese and prevent them from approaching your decoy.
There are lots of products such as ice eliminators which you can buy to solve your ice problems should you be finding them particularly troublesome.
4. Make Decoys Look Realistic
Realism is the primary thing you should be focussing on when setting up a decoy spread; making them look as realistic as possible will maximize your chances of catching ducks and give you a huge advantage over hunters using lesser-realistic looking ones. Although realistic looking decoys aren’t at all cheap, they are well worth it.
The paintwork on many of these high-quality decoys are just as detailed as the real thing and look more natural, meaning that ducks (and geese) will be more likely to fall for them. Setting up a good decoy spread is all about making it look like a flock of live waterfowl, and you can only do this with realistic-looking decoys.
5. Keep Spreads Visible
You don’t need to set up all of your spreads in areas prime for feeding and resting. On flight days when there is a large number of ducks in the air, setting up a good spread in an area which is easily visible from afar by flying ducks can result in a productive hunt and a good catch.
A well-positioned decoy which is convincing and easily visible will fare much better than a decoy which is hidden away in an area where ducks go to rest.
Setting up a waterfowl decoy spread isn’t rocket science, however, it does require some planning and preparation. By setting up a decoy spread efficiently, you can get yourself ahead of the competition (and believe us, there is plenty of it) and dramatically increase the number of kills you make.
So get your waterfowl jacket on, and make this waterfowl season your best yet with our top tips above!