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Banding Together for Waterfowl

The Facts About Confidence Decoys

Message to Ducks: "It's safe here. Come on down!"
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Story at a Glance

Confidence Decoys We'll Cover:

  • Geese
  • Coots
  • Herons, Egrets & Cranes
  • Sea Gulls
  • Swans
  • Crows
  • Cormorants
  • Specialty Duck Decoys

Also: Confidence Decoy Manufacturers



It's difficult to trace the evolution of the crow decoy as a confidence decoy for ducks. But at some point in time, an enterprising waterfowler noticed crows feeding near his duck decoys and decided to add a few crow decoys to the mix. They worked and word spread that having a few wary-crow imitations in the bushes and along the shore could help make a set-up appear more safe and realistic. I've met several hunters who swear by their effectiveness. And because crow decoys are relatively inexpensive, they're often the confidence decoy of choice for frugal hunters.


As far as I can tell, only one U.S. company, Knutson's Decoys (800-248-9318, www.knutsondecoys.com) offers a cormorant decoy. But considering the proliferation of cormorants on waters throughout the country, it seems like a good idea.

If you have a lot of these very prolific birds in your duck hunting area, one or two of these decoys placed in key spots might be worth trying. At the very least, their large size (32" beak to tail) will add visibility to your spread. And if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ever de-lists this problem bird and allows hunting, you'll have a head start on your cormorant hunting buddies.

Specialty Duck Decoys

Specialty duck decoys unquestionably add to the enticing effect of your set, giving the whole an air of ease and security that is striking. These are usually of two types: sleepers and tip-ups.

Sleepers are decoy birds with their heads turned, as though snuggling into the feathers of the back. I have many times watched rafts of ducks in which nearly every bird was apparently fast asleep, all being in the position described. And flying ducks didn't hesitate to drop in amongst their snoozing comrades. A few sleepers mixed with your other dekes would thus have great utility in attracting birds.

Where mallards, black ducks, pintails and other dabblers are being hunted in shallow water, it is equally advisable to include several tip-up decoys, otherwise known as feeders or duck butts. Watch a flock of dabblers in a flooded field sometime. Often more than half of them are "standing on their heads." Note, too, how readily and directly passing waterfowl decoy to these feeding birds. There is no hesitation, no circling. They come in like chickens to a farmer's call.

Adding sleepers and tip-ups to your spread is just one more way to transmit an "all's clear, food's here" signal to flying ducks.

In summary, I have to tell you I have no direct evidence to prove that confidence decoys will increase the number of ducks that drop into your decoy spread. There are no scientific studies to prove or disprove their effectiveness.

Confidence decoys have been used for more than a century, however, a fact that convinces me of their positive attributes, and several times I've experienced better hunting with confidence decoys in the spread than without. At the very least, they give me more confidence in my ability to create a decoy spread that looks totally real to ducks. And that's reason enough for me to keep using them. Try them and decide for yourself. I think you'll be glad you did.

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Related:  decoy tips

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