Building a decoy spread is one of the most important parts of planning your waterfowl hunts. It’s something that obviously requires planning before you ever place a decoy in the water. After many years of hunting the Chesapeake Bay here in Maryland, I have learned several decoy tricks that I think will help you increase your chances of getting more birds in your spread.
First of all, you need to understand what kind of waterfowl you have in your area. I know it sounds simple, but you would not believe how many hunters I have seen placing a particular species in their spread that is not common to the area they are hunting. One thing to keep in mind is what birds will be available during each split. In many areas of the country there are different species of ducks available during the latter parts of the season that you would never see early in the season.
The second thing you need to do after finding out what species of birds are in your area is to understand how many decoys you might need to successfully attract these ducks. For example, if your area holds large numbers of bluebills and most of your scouting has shown large flocks of ducks consisting of bluebills, redheads, and canvasbacks … then you need to build a decoy spread similar to the flocks you are seeing on the water! Which means you should not have two dozen redheads and a dozen bluebills in your spread. You should have just the opposite.
The third thing that you must consider and understand is having the ability to adapt your spread as the season progresses. As the season gets later and your local ducks have moved out, the northern ducks have migrated in, which means the species of your decoys will most likely be changing as well. Here’s a great example of what I mean. I have 400 acres of marsh that I hunt on the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland. During the early season, I will put out teal, mallards, and a few black ducks. About 30 days later while hunting the exact same spot, I will put out mallards, black ducks, wigeon and gadwall decoys. And then 45 days or so after that, my spread will change to bluebills, redheads, buffleheads and canvasbacks. This shows three different decoy spreads being used all within the same spot. The only thing that has changed is the time of the season.
Not to make this more complicated but … along with adapting the types of ducks in your decoy spread you will also want to adapt the numbers of decoys you set out. Depending on the area you are hunting, as the season progresses you will most likely begin to increase the number of decoys in your spread. Quite often it takes a large number of decoys in the spread to pull those large migrating flocks down out of the sky. However, don’t forget to pay attention to the number of birds and how they are situated when conducting your scouting.
Now here’s something I think you will find of interest. Fowl Foolers is now offering a “Build Your Own Spread” dozen of decoys. Here’s what that means. You can select any species of duck, any sex, and any head for your dozen of decoys. What this means for you is you can now custom build your decoy spread with the appropriate numbers of decoys of each species represented in your local flock of ducks. Therefore, you are no longer stuck getting a dozen of a particular species when you really only want seven or eight in your spread! Now you can get more by getting a different species as a part of your dozen. This will be available on our website by the end of the month but you can call into the office to order today! Call Roz at 419-960-7307 and tell her you want to “BUILD YOUR OWN SPREAD!”