Would you like to have more ducks to land in your decoys? Getting ducks to land exactly where you want them to can be challenging but these 10 tips can help you improve your chances of bringing in ducks for some “in your face” shooting opportunities.
HOW TO GET DUCKS TO LAND IN YOUR DECOYS
1) PUT A SPIN ON IT
A great way to get ducks to land in your decoys is incorporating some spinning wing decoys. A popular brand is “MOJO” decoys but there are plenty of options to chose from based on features you want. In short, these “spinning wing” decoys recreate the look of ducks that are landing because their wings spin in circles by battery operation.
Try placing the spinning wing decoys at the front edge of your decoy spread with the head pointing into the wind and towards the rest of your decoy spread. This will make it look like a duck is just preparing to land which can add some comfort to the incoming ducks. Start off with 1 or 2 spinning wing decoys to see how they work for you and your area. You should not want to over do with spinning wing decoys as using too many of them might backfire and flare ducks off but a few should do the trick.
One thing to note is that you will want to check the regulations in your area to see if motorized spinning wing decoys are allowed. The regulations vary by area but sometimes they are not allowed on public land or they are only allowed during certain times of the season. Again, they can be very effective in pulling in ducks but just be sure to check your regulations before using them.
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2) PROPER DECOY SPACING
Another thing to look at when working to get ducks to land in your decoys is ensuring you are using proper decoy spacing. Quite often duck hunters simply throw their decoys out without much thought on the positioning of the decoys, particularly in regards to spacing.
Sure there are plenty of hunters who have success with a “throw and go” method but if you are noticing that ducks do not want to land in your decoys then it is possible that you have your decoys too close together.
You see if your decoys are all bunched up it does not leave much room for the ducks to land so they can become uncomfortable and simply fly away. If you notice this happening, then you should try and spread your decoys further apart to ensure there is plenty of room in between the decoys for the ducks to land.
In general, a good spacing is somewhere between 4-6 feet apart if you see that the ducks are not landing.
3) TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE WIND
The wind can be a duck hunters best friend because you can use it to predict the way that ducks will approach your decoys. This is because ducks land into the wind by using the natural lift of the wind to help them make their landing.
Think of it like flying a kite, when flying a kite the kite is able to float naturally as it goes into the wind. However, if the kite ever gets turned around then it will quickly crash to the ground.
This is the same concept with ducks as they simply use the lift of the air to help them land gently. When you get to your hunting spot pay attention to what way the wind is blowing and then you can expect that ducks will approach your decoys as they head unto the wind.
Once you identify the wind direction you can plan an opening in your decoys at the downwind side of the decoys so the ducks have a place to land comfortably.
4) THE COVER UP
One of the biggest reasons that ducks do not finish in the decoys is when the hunters are not concealed well enough to blend in with the surroundings. It is amazing how the littlest things can appear out of the ordinary for ducks and if ducks notice them they will flare off leaving you frustrated and empty handed. It can be time consuming to get your hunting spot covered up well but the rewards will be well worth the time.
For example, when you are hunting with a boat blind along the shore it is important to get your boat pulled well within the weeds. Then you can take some of the surrounding weeds and drape them over your boat. Make sure that every inch of your boat is covered so regardless of the direction the ducks approach from the ducks will be less likely to see you.
One more thing to mention regarding cover is your gear and yourself. Ensure that all of your hunting gear is put away and out of sight from ducks. Consider face paint to reduce chances of ducks spotting you. Sometimes hunters may want to wear sunglasses or need to wear regular glasses for vision. Just be aware that there could be a reflection that may be seen by ducks and if possible find non glare options or put on contactst if possible.
5) CALL IT OFF
Have you even been hunting public land and heard nearby hunters wailing on their duck calls for hours on end? My guess is if you have done any public land hunting you have run into this situation at least once. Sure, calling for ducks can be an effective way to pull ducks into your decoy spread. However, there are times where it can be overdone.
For example, if you are a new hunter and are still working on your calling skills you may do more harm than good if you continually call and you do not have the tones right. In particular, if you see that ducks are already committed to landing in your decoys because they have their wings cupped and are clearly heading in then it may be best to just let them come rather than continuing to call.
In addition, if you are hunting in an area where other hunters have been blaring on their call all day it can be an effective strategy to do the opposite and do little calling or none at all. Ducks on the water are not always making loud calls so just remember that it is not always necessary for you to continually call for ducks.
6) THE OPTIONS GAME
Providing ducks plenty of landing opportunities can be an effective way to increase the number of ducks that want to land in your decoys.
Some duck decoy spreads have one large “landing zone” that you are trying to direct the ducks into. However, if you notice that ducks are not committing to that one specific landing zone than try adjusting your decoys to create several openings that ducks could land in.
For example, the main landing zone might be 20 yards across and it certainly can be effective especially when a large flock is coming in. But in addition to this large zone make a few other openings that are 5 – 10 yards across further upwind into the decoy spread where ducks have plenty of space to land.
You may notice that solo ducks or small flocks may prefer these alternative landing zones.
7) MAKE THEM CONFIDENT
Simply adding a handful of goose decoys or other species of waterfowl can bring your decoy spread to life which in turn can make ducks feel more comfortable landing in your decoys. Decoys of other species are referred to as “confidence decoys” because they add a level of confidence to the approaching ducks.
This is because ducks often congregate with other waterfowl such as Canada geese, snow geese, sandhill cranes, coots and variety of other birds. When you add a handful of these decoys into the spread it sends a signal to the ducks that not only is it safe enough for ducks to land but it is also safe enough for other birds to land as well.
8) SHORE IT UP
For those times that you are hunting a shoreline you can try adding some full body or shell decoys decoys on land in addition to the decoys that you have in the water. Of course this will only work when the shoreline is clear and not full of weeds or other vegetation.
If you notice duck behavior in nature you can often see that there will be ducks feeding and resting on the shore while other ducks are swimming in the water. Try mixing in some decoys on the shore that are in the feeding position and even some sleeping decoys as well. This can really help your decoy spread stand out and will hopefully get more ducks to land in your decoys.
9) DO THE OPPOSITE
In general, it can work well to increase the size of your decoy spread as the season progresses. This is because in the early season you are hunting the local ducks and often times these local ducks are going to be in smaller flocks.
In order to make a natural look you can try and match the size of the flocks you are seeing with the size of your decoy spread. Similarly, as the year progresses so do the size of the flocks because now the migrating ducks have arrived.
These migrating flocks are often larger so putting out larger decoy spreads during the late season can work well to make those big flocks feel comfortable. However, if you are struggling to get ducks to land in your decoys there are times that doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing can be a good strategy.
For example, if you are hunting in the late season and all of the other hunters in your area are using huge decoy spreads you may find that just putting out a handful of decoys can work. With a small spread in the late season you are giving the ducks a different look than every other spread out there which might be enough to get them to land in your decoys.
10) WALK IT OFF
Before you get finalize your decoys at the start of the day it is a good idea to get out of your blind and walk 40 yards to the downwind side of your decoy spread where the ducks would be approaching from. Closely analyze how your decoys look and see if any of the decoys look unnatural.
Perhaps you have a group of decoys that are all facing the same direction but this is happening in only one spot of your spread. Or maybe a few of the decoys have tipped over or got bunched up from the wind while you finished setting up your spread.
Regardless of what it is that is making your spread look unnatural now it is time to make those adjustments. Many times you are setting up your decoys in the dark which can leave some opportunity to unintentionally place your decoys in an unnatural manner.
After it is light outside you will be in a much better position to see anything that needs to be adjusted to fix a mistake you might have made in the dark.