There's usually no need for a huge spread of decoys during the early teal season. While Haydel has hunted over as few as three decoys and as many as 10 dozen, he says a dozen is generally about right.
"You can certainly get by with standard mallard decoys, but I prefer teal decoys," he says. "We're hunting bluewings in the early season, but I don't think it matters what type of teal decoy you put out. The key is being sure you have the decoys in a spot where the birds want to be."
Tim Daughrity of Murray, Kentucky, has been hunting Lakes Barkley and Kentucky for years. He uses a half-dozen hen mallard decoys. "It's been my experience that hen mallard decoys work just as well as species-correct teal decoys," he says. "The birds are still in eclipse plumage in September, so the drakes more closely resemble a hen mallard decoy than they do breeding-plumage teal decoys. Plus, we pay a premium for magnum and super-magnum decoys for late season. Why wouldn't you want the same effect in the early season?"
Daughrity likes to add a spinning-wing decoy to his spread as well. "Teal respond well to motion decoys," he says. "You don't need an elaborate spread to have them kamikaze at your feet."
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