By Gary Koehler

Calm, bluebird days can be troublesome for the duck hunter. Decoys sit at attention, with no signs of life. This is hardly the picture a waterfowler wants to portray, as ducks are seldom motionless in the wild.

Since live decoys were outlawed in 1935, duck and goose hunters have devised numerous ways of creating lifelike movement in their spreads. Some, like the jerk cord, have worked wonders. Others have not. But modern technology has raised the bar considerably in terms of decoy motion. Here's a roundup of products now available for those who want to cause a commotion in their decoys.

Higdon Splashing/Flasher

Higdon Decoys has introduced a number of new products this year, not the least of which is the Splashing/Flasher. This decoy, which sits on a foam-filled base, sprays water to create ripples and also simulates a mallard drake stretching its wings. The splashing element, created by a hidden bilge pump, is adjustable via control flaps. Power is provided by a rechargeable battery with a run time of up to 12 hours. A timing system is used to sequence the stretching wing motion of a duck at rest. Higdon also produces a feeder decoy called the Pulsator, and mallard drake and hen swimming decoys.

Mallard View Outdoors Ice Eater

Not all duck hunters have to deal with ice. But the Mallard View Outdoors Ice Eater by Power House Inc. does more than keep the water in your honey hole from freezing. By pulling up to 1,400 gallons a minute from the bottom, the Ice Eater creates a continuous wake and plenty of movement in your decoys. The Ice Eater can run off an AC power source or a mobile inverter-style generator. Several models are available, along with a number of accessories. Ice is optional.

Wake Maker Duck System

Looking for a way to animate your duck decoys? The Wake Maker Duck System can do just that. Decoys hooked up to the Wake Maker swim in a set pattern between poles supporting a pulley system. Power is provided by a 12-volt automotive battery. The Wake Maker is equipped with speed control and run time/distance adjustments. This package, which operates in water up to 30 inches deep, includes mounting poles, a motor assembly, a towline, a controller, and an idler pulley assembly.

Quiver Magnet H2O

The Quiver Magnet H2O has been around for a while, but remains an effective means of putting motion in your spread. The Quiver Magnet, which looks somewhat like a hockey puck, runs off two AA batteries and rocks back and forth to create ripples. You can toss the disc into your spread and let it float freely or anchor it in place with a line and anchor. This company also offers Quiver duck butts and standard-size Quiver mallard motion decoys.

Rig'Em Right Jerk Rig

There's nothing at all wrong with using a homemade jerk string. Various designs have been around for years. But the folks at Rig'Em Right decided to make it easier for duck hunters. This company provides the entire package with an updated twist. The jerk rig is compact, lightweight, and easy to set up. Up to four decoys can be used in this decoy-motion system. And when you are done for the day, simply roll it up and put it away.

Duck Thang Moves Decoys Here, There, Everywhere

Imagine a spread in which all the decoys are moving, all the time. That's what the Duck Thang promises to produce-the ultimate decoy-motion simulator. This device, which works off a pulley system, is rigged to move two dozen decoys-more if you so choose. Field tested the past three seasons, the Duck Thang is powered by a 12-volt battery and is best suited for water from knee to chest deep. This package includes an industrial-grade drive-motor assembly, seven idler-pulley assemblies, a 200-foot-long elastic drive belt, power cord, decoy tethers, and storage boxes. There is a three-year warranty on the motor.

MOJO Mallard Machine

Put some hustle in your spread with MOJO Outdoors' Mallard Machine. This system is controlled remotely from a blind or boat. Typically, three decoys are used to create a bobbing/thrashing motion that produces movement in the decoy spread. Power is provided by a 12-volt battery. The Mallard Machine's remote control has on/off and cycle features. Accessories, including a rechargeable battery, are also available. MOJO Outdoors also offers a Flyway Feeder duck butt motion decoy and the Jerk-A-Spreader motion system.

Mallard Master Feedn' Frenzy

Mallard Master's Feedn' Frenzy is an oversize feeder decoy that swims, kicks, and splashes, creating plenty of water movement in the process. This decoy, available in black duck and both drake and hen mallard models, is powered by three AA batteries and can be anchored in your spread. The company also offers the Mallard Master Pro, a standard duck decoy with spinning wings that splash water.

Real Decoys

With 26 years in the business, the people at A&M Waterfowl Inc. have plenty of experience with motion decoys. Swimmer, feeder, flutter, and spinner models are now available. Each runs off a set of AA batteries. The motor and battery holder are encased in sound-deadening material. These decoys are typically anchored just like normal decoys, with the exception of the swimmer, which requires a snap swivel to prevent line twist. Mallards are standard, but pintails, black ducks, and scaup are available by special order.

Ultimate Hunter Decoys

There is a new twist to the Ultimate Hunter's remote-controlled decoys. Now, instead of operating a single decoy at a time, waterfowlers have the option of adding multiple decoys to this system. This revamped device allows the operator to "swim" up to four decoys at one time with a single remote-control unit. Battery powered, these decoys simulate live-duck movement and have an operating range of up to 30 yards. Mallard, wood duck, pintail, and wigeon decoys are now available.

Decoy Boss System

Controlling several motorized decoys at the same time has never been an easy task. At least not until the Decoy Boss came to market. Four models are available, all operating off a single power source. Each unit is rigged to control the speed, motion time, and on and off functions of several motorized decoys simultaneously. The largest unit is a six-channel panel capable of controlling up to 24 devices. This system is best for permanent blind setups.

Super Wonderduck Tornado

The Super Wonderduck Tornado was designed to create a variety of movement to pull ducks from great distances. This decoy's body moves erratically and rotates completely around every couple seconds, the rate of spin depending on the operator's adjustments. Feet thrash the water to put even more waves in your spread. The Super Wonderduck Tornado, which runs up to 25 hours on two D-cell batteries, is available in mallard drake, mallard hen, and pintail drake models. A weedless attachment can be ordered separately.

Make Your Own Jerk Cord

Talk to a dozen waterfowl hunters and you might get a dozen different variations on how to make a jerk cord. Designs range from ultra-simple to somewhat complex. One hunter's jerk cord may be rigged to a single decoy. Another's may be designed to move a dozen decoys or more.

But anyone can make one of these contraptions. There are, after all, relatively few components. The basics include a long length of line (this can be rope or other material); a shorter piece of bungee cord or surgical tubing or a spring from a screen door; a cinder block, anchor, or post sunk in the water; and one or more decoys. That's it. If you choose to employ an anchor, those used for a small boat are fine; some hunters make their own anchor by filling a large can or bucket with cement and embedding an eye bolt in the top. One end of the bungee cord, surgical tubing, or spring is secured to the eye bolt, anchor, or post with a hook, knot, or snap swivel. The other is secured to the main line and run back to the blind (30-35 yards is plenty).

Decoys, which shouldn't be attached too close to the flexible end, are tied off about three feet apart on short lengths of cord along the main line. When ducks are spotted, simply yank the rope back and forth. This causes the flexible end to snap back and forth, moving the decoys and the water around them.