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Decoys are an essential tool for a successful duck hunt, but they’re also surprisingly tricky if you don’t have a lot of experience with them. Every year, you hear the same stories from duck hunters about how they almost had so many working ducks but something happened and they lost the shot. Well, a lot of these frustrating incidents come down to some surprisingly common decoy mistakes. If you can avoid these, you could significantly improve your duck hunting season this year.
Your Decoys Don’t Look Quite Right
First of all, if your duck hunting decoys are the wrong shape, size, color, and/or species, they’re not going to fool any real ducks. Decoys that don’t look like other ducks of the same species aren’t going to attract ducks – in fact, they could repel them. Be aware of the duck population in your area and buy the right size and species of realistic decoys to attract more ducks.
Your Decoys Aren’t Moving
Setting out realistic decoys is a good start, but if your spread is just floating and none of your birds are moving at all, it can look suspicious to ducks flying over. Get a jerk-string rig so that you can give it a pull and create some motion that will make your decoys look even more realistic.
You’ve Set Your Spread in a Suspicious Spot
It’s tempting to set up in places where there’s a lot of heavy cover, like smaller water holes off of bigger bodies of water where there are islands with tree cover. Setting up in these areas takes less time because you don’t have to worry as much about creating your own cover and camouflage. There’s just one problem – within just a few weeks of the beginning of hunting seasons, ducks will already have learned that these spots are dangerous and should be avoided.
Instead, find areas with a little bit less natural cover where you can take a bit of extra time to create your own cover. These areas are less likely to be suspicious to ducks, and they’ll be more likely to respond to your decoys and calls.
They’re Bunched Too Tightly Together
Unless they’re nervous or they’re dealing with windy, rainy weather, ducks don’t usually bunch tightly together. So, unless your duck hunt is taking place on a day with a lot of wind and/or rain, give your decoys some room.
No Place to Land
Finally, a lot of duck hunters won’t create a good hole to guide ducks into their spread. Instead, ducks will land outside the spread or they won’t land at all. You want your decoy spread to look like a large J or U with a big enough hole in the middle for ducks to feel comfortable landing. You also want to make sure that it’s not directly in line with your boat or blind. If the ducks see you, they’re not going to stick around.
So, are you making these decoy mistakes on your duck hunts? Correct them and see how much more success you can have when you go duck hunting this year!
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