If you ever have problems with lead weights chipping paint or leaving color stains on your decoys during transport and storage, try covering them with rubberized plastic coating. You can find this liquid at most hardware or home stores. Simply dip your weights in the liquid and set them out to dry. One can will cover several dozen weights. I also use this material to coat my goose decoy stakes so they won't rust and corrode.
—Pete R. Gutbrod, Sheridan, Oregon
While pursuing crippled diving ducks, row upwind of the spot where the duck dove last. This will give you the advantage of having the wind at your back when the duck resurfaces. Also, try to keep the boat in a position so the duck will surface to the left if the shooter is right-handed and to the right if the shooter is left-handed.
—Patrick Horvath, Greenfield, Wisconsin
Before the season opens, I place an old piece of cane pole 30 yards in front of my blind. I measure the distance using a length of string. Once the season opens, the first thing I do in the morning is find my marker and place my favorite oversized bluebill decoy beside it. Then, I place my spread between this decoy and the blind. This is a simple way to ensure that any decoying ducks will be within proper killing range. This has helped us keep crippling losses near zero for a number of seasons.
-Patrick Horvath, Greenfield, Wisconsin
I've found a trick that saves both money and space for those who hunt both Canada and snow geese with shell decoys. By purchasing extra snow goose heads and placing them on Canada decoys, a hunter can multiply his or her snow goose decoy spread at a much reduced cost. From near or far, the white-headed decoys appear to be mature blue geese that are intermingled with lesser snow goose flocks.
—James F. Schatz, Bruceton, Tennessee
For many years, I hunted ducks from a small, two-person plastic boat with a trolling motor powered by a battery. For a headlight, we used a fisherman's floating crappie light-essentially a car headlight mounted in a styrofoam case. This inexpensive lamp provides plenty of light on small waters and will float if dropped overboard.
—Mark Miller, Bettendorf, Iowa
Looking for a readily available material for camouflaging your duck blind? Try using pampas or ornamental grass that is widely used for landscaping. A good time to find it is in the winter, after it has died, when many landscapers are glad to get rid of it. Try inquiring at golf courses, which often use a lot of this vegetation. Use gloves when working with the grass, because some varieties will have sharp edges. This durable, natural material blends well with most autumn marsh vegetation and can be easily affixed to boats or blinds.
—F. Schlenk, via e-mail