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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Big Decoy Rigs

Tips from waterfowlers who hunt over some of the biggest decoy rigs.
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Story at a Glance
Big rigs in this article include:
  • Playing the Field
  • A Good Layout
  • In Black and White
  • Going for Number
  • Other Big Rigs

by Matt Young

As any waterfowler who has ever hunted near a refuge knows, ducks and geese associate safety with numbers, and they usually flock to the largest concentrations of their own kind. Given the gregarious nature of the birds, many waterfowlers work to acquire as many decoys as possible in hopes of building a large enough spread to overcome, by sheer numbers, the innate wariness of their quarry.

A few waterfowlers, however, have taken this concept to the extreme. These individuals, largely outfitters and other extremist waterfowling devotees, have amassed spreads of hundreds, and, in some cases, thousands of decoys. The following are tips and advice from waterfowlers who regularly hunt over some of the biggest decoy rigs in the nation.

Big Rigs: Playing the Field

Every autumn, spectacular numbers of waterfowl gather on the vast prairies of southern Saskatchewan, where numerous pothole marshes and lakes surrounded by endless acres of harvested grainfields provide ideal staging habitat for migrating ducks and geese.

The incomparable waterfowling opportunities available in Saskatchewan are well known to Stan Anderson of Tennessee, who makes an annual hunting trip there in fall with several of his hunting partners. Anderson's group specializes in hunting light geese (Ross' geese and lesser snows)-by far the most numerous birds in the region-on harvested grainfields. However, they also bag Canada and white-fronted geese and ducks, primarily mallards and pintails.

"During our afternoon scouting trips, we look for really big concentrations of snows," Anderson explains, "but there are often large numbers of dark geese and ducks using the same fields. This gives us the opportunity to take several different species during the same hunt."

Like most snow goose hunters, Anderson believes in putting out a huge spread of white windsock decoys that resembles a large flock of feeding birds. "We like to shoot decoying birds, so you have to use big numbers of decoys to have any hope of getting them in close. Our success rates went up dramatically a few years ago when we increased the size of our spread from 400 to 1,000 decoys."

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Related:  decoy tips

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