By Steve Hickoff
Sure, decoys do some of the work for you. As a duck and goose hunter, you have to chip in too.
1) Calm morning? Loosen the decoy spread up. On windless days, waterfowl aren’t limited to one approach, so birds might come from any direction. This goes for field geese and marsh ducks.
2) Mixed bag? If you’re hunting an area that has both honkers and quackers, and there’s some wind, set up with the breeze quartering over either shoulder. Put the duck dekes on the water or in the field moving out from the blind. Stake goose fakes parallel to your position (or vice-versa).
3) Need help? If you’re using a mixed spread, plunk a spinning-wing decoy in the mix where legal.
4) Fill it up? If you’re hunting a small pothole, try filling it with decoys for a change. Load it, and don’t leave an open spot. Why? Some waterfowlers often don’t fill potholes to open up room for landers. Still, if you fill that spot with dekes, ducks will first commit, and try to land, but will then have to spread out a little to look for open spots. That’s when you take ‘em.
5) Swimmer sets work. If you’re in flooded timber, put some dekes to one end of the hole and facing away to simulate ducks that have landed and are swimming off.
6) Don’t fidget, dude. Sit tight until you’re ready to shoot. Unnecessary movement away from the dekes can tip ducks off.
7) Hide yourself. If you’re in flooded timber on a bright bluebird day, definitely use the shady side of a tree to hide your outline.
8) Lighten up. If you’ve scouted seriously, and know where waterfowl are feeding, you can go out with a small spread, say a dozen decoys, and put together a sweet little hunt. This strategy sometimes works if you don’t have much time in the morning.