I’d hunted over other massive decoy spreads before, and I know that in certain situations, a huge spread will outdraw a smaller spread because of its greater visibility and attraction. Both ducks and geese are often drawn to big numbers.
The place to consider a massive decoy spread is beneath a flyway where passing birds have a clear view of the spread. For instance, our spot is in a field bordering the Mississippi River in western Kentucky. Most waterfowl we shoot are trading along the river instead of coming to our field. But when they see the huge decoy spread, many lock up and hook around to check it out.
For several years, I hunted from an open-water blind on Lake Barkley in Kentucky, and my partners and I surrounded our blind with about 500 decoys. I’ve also hunted from blinds at Reelfoot Lake in northwest Tennessee that had 600 decoys around them. And one Reelfoot blind I passed daily had some 2,000 decoys bobbing around it. This massive spread measured approximately 100 yards in diameter.
Obviously, such gigantic spreads are set out for the duration of the season. Heavy decoy weights and tough lines are required. Strong winds and high waves can play havoc with decoys that aren’t firmly anchored.
With a massive spread, any decoys will work just fine. They don’t have to be new with bright paint jobs. In fact, on Lake Barkley a third of our decoys were gallon milk jugs coated in black roofing tar. We mixed these randomly among our duck decoys, and the birds never showed any hesitation to work to them. In fact, I think these all-black “decoys” helped draw birds by increasing our spread’s visibility. (Check local regulations before using plastic jugs as decoys. They are prohibited in some areas.)