By Ted Marks
So, how many decoys are enough? According to veteran hunter Crispin Powley of Paris, Tennessee, more is always better. Powley and his partners share a large blind in a flooded field near a national wildlife refuge, and they put out an enormous permanent decoy spread. In fact, their spread is far beyond the realm of practicality for most hunters. However, Powley, a pro staff member with Avery Outdoors, says when it comes to decoy spreads, numbers matter.
"In my experience, the more decoys you put out, the more ducks you're going to pull in. I'm firmly convinced of this, and this past year was a wonderful experiment that came out exactly as I had hoped it would. The more decoys I utilized, the more response I got from ducks that I may not have gotten in the past."
This past season, Powley's spread peaked at 1200 duck decoys, 250 Canada goose floaters and another 200 field Canada decoys on dry ground behind his blind.
He continues, "I know most hunters can't put out such a large spread. There's a lot of expense and effort involved. I realize that, and I'm very fortunate I have with my affiliation with Avery to be able to set and test a spread of this size. All I'm saying is that a large spread definitely will pay for itself in terms of increasing the number of ducks you pull in."
Powley says the farthest decoy in the front of his spread was 30 yards from his blind, but he had decoys packed in front and around the sides and back of the blind. He also worked on his spread each day, untangling lines and moving decoys to open up holes to match prevailing winds. "You have to continuously work a spread this size, or it'll get away from you," he notes.
Powley continues, "I'm also meticulous about putting out family groups and where I set various species, pintails for instance. I always set them on the outside of my spread, next to my goose floaters. I think their white color is very noticeable and helps pull ducks from longer distances. They're a good contrast to the dark signature of the goose floaters."
When a freeze hits Powley runs three anti-ice electronic devices to keep ice from forming in his spread. "When you're hunting in a shallow area where most everything is frozen, and you have a big hole of open water with several dozen decoys moving around in the current, it's like a magnet. Ducks have a hard time resisting it."
He adds, "It takes a lot of work to set and maintain a spread and keep it open like we try to do. But when you have one of those days when everything that flies by drops in, it's worth all the effort - every bit of it!"