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10 Strategies For Decoy-Shy Ducks

Adapting to changes in duck behavior is a key success
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10. Billy Gianquinto, Santa Rosa, Calif.

Gianquinto is a retired schoolteacher, coach and TV-show host who now travels the West Coast running duck-calling seminars. He hunts mainly along the California coast north of San Francisco and also in the Central Valley. He says the birds in these areas become "notoriously decoy-shy" from heavy hunting pressure. "I've learned how to hunt these birds out of necessity," he says. "You either adapt or you go home empty-handed."

"First, I scale down my spread," he explains. "By the last few weeks of the duck season, I may be setting out only 12 to 18 decoys. I also put out all drakes because the colors show up better. And I don't set any decoys farther than 25 yards from my blind. Decoy-shy ducks tend to swing the outer edges of the spread. If the spread is in close, you might still get a good passing shot. I place my decoys three to four feet apart. I like a relaxed look. And I start hunting from a coffin boat to eliminate above-ground blinds that can spook pressured ducks. My coffin boat shows only eight inches of freeboard. By camouflaging the opening and lying back in the boat, I have no profile. The ducks never know I'm there, and they come in without fear."

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