The sight was one to make any duck hunter sad.
A motley collection of decoys was piled behind a barn where my friend stored his duck hunting paraphernalia. Grass had grown high around them. The sun had bleached their colors. They were made for water and good sport, but now they were languishing in the reject heap.
“Those are my leakers,” my buddy explained when I asked him about the decoys. “Most have shot holes in them. A few have broken seams. When a decoy starts taking on water, I pull it out of my spread and bring it home to be patched, but it seems like I just never get around to this chore. So they just pile up.”
Virtually every hunter has these “low riders” from time to time. Most duck hunters use hollow-body decoys that are injection-molded from various thermoplastic resins. These decoys offer natural detail, light weight and excellent durability. However, they are vulnerable to puncture holes from misdirected shot or to cracks in seams or decoy bodies. It doesn’t take long for a small leak to cause a decoy to morph into a submarine.
But the good news is that these puncture holes are easy to repair, and repairs done properly will hold indefinitely. Here’s how to fix leaky decoys, so they can be returned to service when the spread is deployed the following season.
First, locate the leak(s) while the decoy still has water in it. Squeeze the decoy and rotate it, looking for streams, drips or bubbles of water forced out under pressure from leak holes. Mark each hole for repair.
Next, drill out each leak hole with a 1/8-inch drill bit. Drill through the wall of the decoy precisely on top of the leak. This is done to enlarge leak holes, so silicone patching material can be squeezed inside the decoy to form stronger patches.
After all leaks are found and drilled, drill another hole in the very tip of the decoy’s tail. Then set the decoy in a rack with the tail pointed down to drain remaining water. Leave the decoy in the rack for an extended time period to remove all water and allow the decoy to dry inside.