Can You Mix Different Kinds of Goose Decoys?

mixing decoy types

Have you ever wondered if you can mix different kinds of goose decoys?  Honestly, I wondered the same thing so I tried mixing different types of decoys and found the results to be quite interesting.  With my experiments I have tried mixing different styles of decoys such as full body decoys with shell decoys and I have tried mixing various brands of decoys.


Here is an example of a mixed decoy spread that I used with success:


mixing different kinds of goose decoys


What is Mixing Different Kinds of Goose Decoys?

  • Different styles of decoys such as full body decoys with shell decoys
  • Different brands of decoys


Different Styles of Decoys

One way that I have tested mixing different types of decoys was mixing different styles of decoys.  For example, there are some people who say you should only put an entire spread of full body decoys together and not have any shell decoys with them.  Those people also say that if you only have a few full body decoys and a majority of shell decoys to only put out the shell decoys.  The thought is that the geese could tell the difference between the two styles of decoys and think it looks unnatural.
However, from the testing that I have done I have not found it to be an issue to mix various styles of decoys.  For example, I own full body decoys, silhouette decoys and windsock decoys and have had plenty of success hunting geese over a spread that was comprised of mixing all of these styles of decoys.


In fact, I will actually use these different styles of decoys strategically throughout my decoy spread.  For the times that I have great looking full body decoys with I will typically put those at the edge of the landing zone.  The reason for this is that these are some of the most realistic decoys so these are the decoys that the geese will be looking at as they get ready to land.  Behind those full body decoys I will put out my shell decoys to help fill out the spread.  This strategy has worked well for me on multiple goose hunting occasions.


Different Brands of Decoys

Another thing that I have experimented with to see how birds would react is mixing various brands of decoys.  Again, there are people of the opinion that you should only put decoys out in your spread that are all from the same decoy company.  Once again, from the testing that I have done with this I have found there to be absolutely no impact on how geese react to my spread if all decoys are of one brand compared to the times when I have mixed brands.


If you are like me you probably have a few other buddies that you like to hunt with and not always do you have the exact same brands of decoys as these friends.  On one particular goose hunting trip I had one specific brand of shell goose decoys and my friend had a different brand.  However, we wanted to have a larger spread that day so we both brought our shell decoys with even though they were different brands.


We placed our decoys in a “U” shape and had both brands mixed in all various parts of the spread.  Some of our decoys were on steaks to elevate them off the ground and some we placed on top of the dirt.  What was the result?  Well it was a quick afternoon hunt but the one pair of geese that we did see came right into the landing zone of our spread with no issue and we were able to successfully shoot both of the geese.


Final Thoughts

Although there are some goose hunters who prefer to hunt with only decoy brand and the same style of decoy, from my experience it does not negatively impact your goose hunting success if you mix different kinds of decoys.  When I first got started goose hunting I bought a mixed group of decoy types and brands from a person on Craigslist because that is what I could afford at the time.  This mixture of goose decoy body styles as well as mixed brands worked just fine for me to get started with goose hunting.


As time goes on and you are able to buy all the same brand and style of decoys I would say that is certainly fine.  However, as you get started or if you want to have a larger spread when your friends come hunting with you there is no reason that you should not be able to mix up your decoy types.  Personally, I think that mixing up the styles and brands can help make your decoy spread less uniform because not all geese in nature are the exact same size.  When you incorporate different styles of decoys for your spread I feel that this can mimic the variations you will see in nature and hopefully help you bag plenty of geese.


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2 thoughts on “Can You Mix Different Kinds of Goose Decoys?

  1. Brad Gillispie

    What is your thought on different SIZED decoys? I have a mixed bag of goose decoys. They are mostly shells…from standard size to the 3 Ft long Super Magnum. Some of my hunting buddies are decoy elites that only want high price full body flocked head decoys that just came our to the box.

    Love what you do!

    Thanks, Brad

    1. Scott Post author

      Hey Brad, thanks for the question and the kind words. I’m glad that you have found my site useful.

      First, I will say that I do understand and respect the position that your hunting buddies have taken regarding only hunting with high priced and new decoys. In a perfect world it would be sweet to hunt over the most expensive full body decoys and fill the field with dozens of these great looking deeks. There are a lot of guys and outfitters who hunt with this decoy mentality with a ton of success so it is hard to say that it is not effective.

      However, in my opinion and based on my personal experience it is not necessary or practical to have brand new and expensive decoys to shoot geese. As an example, during my hunt on closing day of the 2015 goose hunting in Minnesota I used various sized and ages of decoys and was able to pull in several flocks of geese to shoot. Not only was it effective on pulling in several flocks of geese but I had some huge flocks of mallards work into my decoy spread as well. Unfortunately, duck season was already closed otherwise I would have easily had a limit of ducks.

      On that day I put out 30 regular sized shell decoys, 20 magnum sized shell decoys and 30 silhouette decoys all mixed together. The funny thing is the regular sized decoys were the very first decoys I ever bought several years back when I first got into goose hunting. Many of them have cracks in them and have seen their better day. However, I wanted to use them to add numbers to my spread because with it being late in the season I wanted to be prepared to pull in the larger flocks in the area. The magnum shells are a few years old and the silhouette decoys were new that hunting season.

      Now what I will do is put my best looking decoys closest to the landing zone. This is because the decoys right by the landing zone are the ones that the geese will be focusing on most as they make their final approach. With this setup I put most of my silhouettes towards the landing zone as they were newer and had good looking paint. However, I will let you know that I have also hunted over spreads of all shell decoys, actually over just those old shell decoys, and had no problem pulling in geese with that spread.

      You also have to factor cost into this as you get into goose hunting or when you look to expand your spread. For those of us who have other financial obligations such as a mortgage and family to support it might not be in the budget to spend thousands of dollars on your decoy spread. It is my hope that as many people as possible are able to participate in this fun sport and that budget does not have to hinder people from enjoying goose hunting. My recommendation is to hunt with what you can afford and go from there. This might mean starting with some used decoys that you find on craigslist or other source. Craigslist can be a great place to find used decoys at a great price. If not then you can look for sales at sporting goods stores to get your spread started with decoys that are on sale. Again, I’m not saying that new and expensive decoys are not great but you just have to use what you can and upgrade and expand as your budget allows.

      The biggest factors in having goose hunting success start with hunting the right spots and getting yourself properly concealed. If you invest time in scouting for the geese so that you can hunt where the geese want to be you should absolutely have no problem in shooting a limit regardless of what size or type of decoy you have. Finally, make sure that your hunting spot is concealed well. If you are using a layout blind ensure that it is well covered with some of the natural vegetation that is in the area to have it blend in as best as possible as your surroundings. This is something that I did wrong myself my first season and as soon as I started concealing myself better my success immediately improved.

      Good luck hunting Brad and when you do get out and use your mixed bag of decoys I would love to see some pics of your spread and any honkers you shoot.

      Scott – DecoyPro

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