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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Building a Decoy Spread

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Story at a Glance
Elements to consider in building a spread:
  • Decoy Species
  • Decoy Size
  • Decoy Materials
  • Solid Keel or Water Keel
  • How Many Decoys?
  • Specialty Decoys
  • What Type of Spread?
  • Rigging Options
  • Thoughts on Movement

Decoy Size

Decoys come in standard, magnum, and super magnum sizes. What size should a hunter choose or his spread?

Decoy size relates to visibility. Bigger decoys are more noticeable, especially at long distances. However, bigger decoys are also bulkier and heavier to transport. A hunter must weigh these factors in deciding which size is best for his place and purpose.

For instance, a freelancer backpacking decoys into a beaver pond should stick with standards, which are easier to carry. Ducks will likely be working close in such an environment, and oversized decoys won't be necessary. On the other hand, a freelancer hunting from a boat on a large river or lake should go with super magnums because of their bigger profile. From a distance, 18 super magnums will show up better than three dozen standard-size decoys.

The same logic applies to a large permanent spread. In a cypress brake, slough, pothole, or flooded timber – where ducks will be close before they see the spread, standard decoys are sufficient. On a big lake, flooded field, or dry field where waterfowl may pass at long range, bigger decoys are better, though a mass of decoys (for example, 200 to 400) will have plenty visibility regardless of which size decoy is used.

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