If the stake holes in your plastic shell decoys have worn and are too loose to properly hold stakes in place, try this easy repair job. Go to the hardware store and buy a quality two-part epoxy and a box of metal washers that will fit over the ends of your decoy stakes. Rough up the inside surfaces of the decoy around the holes with coarse sandpaper, and apply epoxy to the area. Set washers in place, and let dry. Now you'll have a much tighter fit for your decoy stakes, which will help hold them in place.
-Cyndie and Steve Downie
Try this for rigging a decoy with a single line to quickly adjust to 4- and 10-foot water levels. Take a 12-foot length of decoy line and run it through the anchor ring. Fasten a pinch clip at each end of the line. For shallow water, attach both clips to either end of the decoy's keel and drop the anchor to the bottom of the loop. For deeper situations, simply release one clip and secure it to the anchor.
Fredericton, New Brunswick
If you hunt near the state line, plan your trips to coincide with the opening of waterfowl seasons in neighboring states. Ducks and geese will often fly long distances in response to hunting pressure. On my marsh, we typically get a new influx of birds that arrive overnight following the opening of hunting seasons across the state line. The following morning, the shooting is often as productive as during our own season opener.
-Anthony Marich, Jr.
Most DU members would agree that to preserve waterfowl habitats we need to involve the younger generation. To help my son and his peers gain an appreciation for waterfowling, our local Cub Scout troop has planned a fall waterfowl hunt. The youngsters will have the opportunity to earn merit badges by knowing gun safety rules, identifying waterfowl, building blinds, and constructing wood duck boxes. While the scouts are too young to hunt themselves, it is never too early to introduce them to the sport that we hold dear.
Harbor Springs, Michigan
Here's a quick and easy way to gut waterfowl and also save your fingers. After plucking a duck or goose, simply turn the bird breast down and cut along the backbone from the tail to the neck with a sharp knife or scissors. This way, you can pull all of the insides out from the back without having to reach inside the body cavity, where sharp bones can cut your fingers.
It pays to know how to identify wetland plants that grow in the areas where you hunt. Certain plants are preferred by some species of waterfowl for food and cover. While scouting, I note particularly abundant plants and make decisions on where to hunt accordingly. For example, arrow arum growing in buttonbush thickets always produces good wood duck hunting. Green-winged teal are drawn to shallow, duckweed-covered ponds. And gadwalls and redheads like certain pondweeds.
-Anthony Marich, Jr.
If your decoys have begun to look dirty, and you feel like dunking them to brighten their original colors, try cleaning them before your next outing with tire cleaner foam. I simply hang my old decoys along my backyard fence, spray them thoroughly with tire cleaning solution, and let them dry overnight. The next morning, they look as good as new.
-Cody J. White
I modified an old golf-ball retriever to help me pick up decoys and retrieve birds in thick brush. I simply removed the ball-retrieving end and replaced it with a hook. The retriever is telescopic, making it compact and easy to carry in a decoy bag. It has enabled me to spare my dog from retrieving birds in really nasty cover and has helped me keep my hands dry on cold mornings.
Some of the most productive waterfowl hunting along river systems is found in secluded backwater areas. Look for backwaters lying between protected roosting areas, including national wildlife refuges and private hunting clubs, and feeding areas such as flooded agricultural fields. These backwater haunts will often attract ducks and geese trading back and forth between feeding and resting areas. Navigation and topographical maps can be used to locate these hotspots prior to the hunting season.
-Michael A. Hrynciw, III