Decoy Spreads for Ducks in Early Season

decoy spreads for ducks in early season

Decoy spreads for ducks in early season that are most effective are all about recreating the natural behavior of early season ducks. Unlike the late season spreads, decoy spreads for ducks in early season should typically consist of fewer decoys yet the decoys should be strategically placed for optimal performance.  Here you will get 3 examples of decoy spreads for ducks in early season that will help you bag more ducks to get your duck hunting season started off with a bang.

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Decoy Spreads for Ducks in Early Season #1

decoy spreads for ducks in early season
decoy spreads for ducks in early season

 

 “Farmers Delight” Decoy Spread for Ducks in Early Season:

  • Works Well for Ponds & Low Spots In Fields
  • Incorporates floating decoys & field decoys for a natural look
  • Close shooting opportunities at the landing zone
  • Opportunity to bag geese in addition to ducks

 

Works Well For Ponds & Low Spots in Fields

In the early season it is common to find ducks in smaller bodies of water suck as ponds, drainage ditches and low spots in fields that pool up with water.  This decoy spread for ducks in early season is perfect for all of these situations because you will utilize these smaller areas of open water to your advantage as you work to bag your limit of ducks.

 

As with any duck hunting you will want to ensure that you are concealed well from the sight of the approaching ducks to ensure that you you are not spotted otherwise you will have an extremely difficult time in getting ducks in close enough to shoot.

 

In this decoy spread for ducks in early season you can either setup with a layout blind on the edge of the pond if there is not much tall vegetation to cover.  I often find on field ponds where I hunt there is usually not much tall grass so utilizing a layout blind can work well to keep a low profile and then you will simply want to cover your blind with grass or other vegetation you find nearby.

 

However, when I am hunting the edge of a larger pond I more often fall tall grass and cattails.  When I find myself in these situations I will opt to simply sit in this tall grass as covering. When you arrive at your hunting spot look for the tallest and thickest covering you can find and sit down or use a marsh stool to get below the weed line.  This method can be very effective for concealment and it will also save you the trouble of carrying and setting up a layout blind.

 

Incorporates Floating Decoys & Field Decoys for Natural Look

One tactic you can use in this decoy spread for ducks in the early season to make it look extremely natural is to incorporate floating decoys as well as field decoys.  In the above example you can see that in the pond we have placed ½ dozen floating duck decoys on the upwind side of the pond, then we also placed about 1 more dozen field decoys on the edges of the pond.

 

By doing this tactic you are making it look as if ducks are comfortable loafing in the pond but then you also make it appear that there is plenty of food for the ducks to refuel on in the nearby shoreline.  If you do not have field decoys to add it is not a necessity but it can be worth adding a few to your decoy spread to see if you notice a difference with this additional level of appearance of comfort.

 

Close Shooting Opportunities at the “Landing Zone”

Another benefit of this decoy spread for ducks in early season is the close shooting opportunities that it can present for you.  As I previously mentioned the early season hunting will often good in smaller ponds, drainage ditches, small rivers and streams and other small bodies of water.  The good news about these smaller bodies of water is that if the ducks are fooled into landing in the water you can be strategically close to their landing zone.

 

Always be sure that you position yourself within effective shotgun range when you are planning your duck decoy spread.  Most shotguns are effective to about 40 yards and can they sometimes be a bit longer with extended choke tubes and larger shells.  Regardless if you use an option to extend your shooting range I would still plan to take most of your shots within 40 yards so that you can be certain that a well placed shot can drop the approaching ducks.

 

Opportunity to Bag Geese in Addition to Ducks

If you are anything like me you probably enjoy the opportunity to add a few geese to your daily harvest of ducks.  The great thing about this decoy spread for ducks in early season is if you are hunting an area where geese are nearby you will have an opportunity to drop a few as well.  Particularly when you are hunting field ponds you may find this to be the case.

 

One thing you may want to do to with this decoy spread for ducks in early season to increase your opportunity to bag geese with this decoy spread is to add a few floating goose decoys in the water.  Something as simple as 2-6 goose floaters can be a nice touch to bring this spread to life for those nearby geese.  Duck decoys alone will certainly be fine to attract geese but it usually doesn’t hurt to add a few geese as well to fill out this spread.

 

 

Decoy Spreads for Ducks in Early Season #2

decoy spreads for ducks in early season
decoy spreads for ducks in early season

 

“Wildcat” Decoy Spread for Ducks in Early Season Summary:

  • Use the wind to your advantage
  • Great to use when open field hunting ducks
  • Can work well for multiple hunters

 

Use Wind to Your Advantage

As you may know using the wind to your advantage when duck hunting can really help you bag your limits more consistently.  One common way to place your decoys on land or water is to set them up in a “U” shape.   When you set up this “U” shape the opening of the “U” should be pointing to the direction that the wind is blowing.  This is because as ducks approach your decoys they will want to land into the wind so they should land into the open area of the “U”.

 

With this “Wildcat” decoy spread for ducks in early season we are creating a 2 “U” setup or you could think of it more like a “W” setup.  By doing this we actually create two landing zones that the approaching ducks will have to chose from.  These options can sometimes be effective because if there is something the ducks do not like about one of the landing zones they will have another landing zone to chose from.

 

Great to Use for Open Field Hunting Ducks

One advantage of hunting from the shoreline is that you are able to take advantage of many ways to conceal yourself from the approaching ducks.  In this example the hunter has a blind placed along the shoreline.  The hunter is actually using a layout blind along the shore but perhaps you have a permanent blind and that will work great as well.

 

Another method you could use to conceal yourself is to use the tall grass or cattails to sit under.  With good camouflage clothing on you should be able to find a spot within close shooting distance that still provides plenty of cover.  Consider putting on some camouflage face paint to keep any of your exposed skin from scaring off the ducks.

 

Can Work Well For Multiple Hunters

As I mentioned earlier you actually creating somewhat of a “W” shaped setup with your decoys for this decoy spread for ducks in early season.  The neat thing about this setup is that at base of the “W” you will have two natural points to place your layout blinds so it is perfect for multiple hunters.  In fact, if you have more than two hunters you could keep duplicating this spread to create even more landing zones for the approaching ducks.

 

The other thing I like about this method is that it creates one shooting zone for each hunter to focus on.  Often times it can be tempting to shoot at ducks that are outside of your shooting distance, particularly when hunting a long line of hunters in a wide open decoy spread.  However, with this setup you can use these landing zones created by the decoys as your known shooting points meaning that if ducks are within your shooting zone lane they should be well within your effective shotgun range.

 

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Decoy Spreads for Ducks in Early Season #3

decoy spreads for ducks in early season
decoy spreads for ducks in early season

 

“River Slash” decoy spreads for ducks in Early Season Summary:

  • Use on smaller rivers, streams and other waterways where you can access both sides of the shore
  • Incorporate full body duck decoys on the shores
  • Use natural vegetation on the shore to conceal the hunters
  • “U” pointing with the wind and helps funnel ducks for close shooting opportunities

 

 

Use on smaller rivers, streams and other waterways where you can access both sides of the shore

For best results on this decoy spread for ducks in early season you will want to use it with smaller rivers, streams and other waterways where you can easily access both sides of the shoreline.  This is because you will need to access both sides for placing your shoreline decoys and for setting up your hunting location.

 

However, you can still use this decoy spread for ducks in early season even if the body of water is larger.  What you would do is simply eliminate the decoys that are on the shore across from the hunters and have an opening of the “U” be out into the water about 40 yards.  This way you still create a funneling effect but you will simply not be utilizing the entire width of the river.

 

Incorporate full body duck decoys on the shores

One element to this duck hunting spread that you can add to increase the level of realism is to add some full body duck decoys to the shoreline.  It is common for ducks to feed on the shorelines and even use the shorelines as a resting place.  When the approaching ducks see this it may help them feel more comfortable to come and join in the feast.

 

This river duck spread shows several feeding duck decoys along the shoreline and even some active duck decoys walking about.  If you have sleeping duck decoys you can also incorporate them onto the shoreline in groups of 2-5 to create the illusion that those ducks are so comfortable in this spot that they are resting.

 

Use natural vegetation on the shore to conceal the hunters

Another benefit of this decoy spread for ducks in early season is that the hunter will be able to use the natural vegetation of the shore to help keep concealed from the sight of approaching ducks.  In fact, one of the most critical components to successfully shooting ducks is ensuring that you are out of the sight of the ducks so that they do not get scared and flare away from your decoy spread and leave effective shotgun range.

 

Depending on how much vegetation there is on the shoreline you could place layout blinds on the shore and cover them up with tall grass.  You could also setup a permanent blind on the shore and have season long hunting opportunities as long as you have long term access to this land.  However, one of my most favorite ways for this style of hunting is to simply sit in the tall grass or under a tree to keep concealed.  This way I do not need to carry a layout blind or take the time and expense to build a permanent shore blind.

 

“U” pointing with the wind and helps funnel ducks for close shooting opportunities

With this decoy spread for ducks in early season the primary consideration is to face the opening of the decoys creating a “U” with the wind.  In this example, the wind is blowing from left to right.  Since ducks want to land into the wind we have setup the duck decoy river spread so that the landing zone is to the right of the decoys.  This means that the ducks should approach the spread from right to left and head for the area labeled “Landing Zone”.

 

The great thing about this “U” is that it helps to create a funneling effect with the ducks.  What I mean is that as the ducks fly upriver they will see that there are ducks on both sides of the river and in front of them with a large open area for landing.  The hope with this spread is that the ducks see the open landing area and head in. Even if the ducks elect to not land into this river duck spread there is a good chance that you can still get pass shooting at the ducks as they fly up river.

 

In addition, by using this decoy spread for ducks in early season on smaller rivers and bodies of water you can ensure that ducks are within shotgun range.  For example, most shotguns have an effective killing range of about 40 yards or so for ducks.  This means that if the decoys on the other side of the river from the hunters are about 40 yards away any ducks that come within the spread should be in shotgun range.

 

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