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Decoy Spreads: Cypress Brakes, Standing-Water Swamp

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Butler rigs a decoy jerk cord for each arm of each blind's spread to provide movement on days when the wind is calm. (He usually attaches four decoys per line.) Also, he sets out various motorized decoys for the same purpose.

To top it off, Butler adds a few extra touches to enhance his spreads' attraction to passing waterfowl. In the small hole, an old beaver hut sits in the middle of the landing area, between the two arms of the spread. Butler has rounded the hut off and set a half-dozen standup (field) duck decoys on top of it for extra realism. "I like to study how real ducks sit on the water, and if there's a beaver hut or log or some similar object around, there are always a few ducks up there resting and preening," he says. "This is what I'm copying by putting those standup decoys up there." Butler also adds a great blue heron decoy at the edge of each hole for more realism.

Describing his spreads, he says: "In the type of spot where I hunt, you need a spread that can be seen a long way off, which you achieve with lots of big decoys. Next, the more natural-looking the spread is, the more effective it'll be. When ducks and geese get in there for a close inspection, I want my decoys to look as real as possible.

"Also, I think it's vital to leave a wide-open landing hole where a big flight of ducks can drop in. And the last thing doesn't have anything to do with decoys, but it's crucial to success. I camouflage my blinds with oak brush and vines that blend in with the natural vegetation around my holes. I really pile it on. I don't think you can have too much cover on your blind."

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