By Wade Bourne
These lifelike decoys are highly effective in a variety of hunting environments
Using full-body field decoys is a great way to make your duck spread more attractive to mallards and other dabblers. These oversize decoys come in several poses (including feeding, resting, and sleeping postures) and are amazingly realistic in both detail and color. Following are five ways I use full-body duck decoys to make my spread look more natural and appealing to passing birds.
1. Ducks on a Log
In flooded timber and swamps, ducks routinely climb onto logs and muskrat mounds to rest and preen. You can replicate this scenario with full-body decoys to suggest serenity and security to working birds. First, drag a log to the perimeter of your spread and anchor it in place. Next, place several full-body decoys in a line along the log. I use Greenhead Gear decoys with RealMotion bases. In a permanent spread, simply nail these wire bases to the log with fencing staples. For temporary setups, use a cordless drill and a long bit to drill 2-inch holes into the log. Then insert RealMotion field stakes into the holes and set the decoys atop the stakes. In this setting, I like to use mostly resters and sleepers with a couple of active and feeder decoys mixed in.
2. Raising the Stakes
In shallow water, using several full-body duck decoys along with standard floaters will increase your spread's visibility and motion. Cut lengths of rigid 1/2-inch PVC pipe about 15 inches longer than the depth of the water. Cut both ends of the pipe at a 45-degree angle to create a V-shaped notch. Push one end about 12 inches into the mud, leaving three inches of pipe above the water's surface. Twist the pipe so the lower side of the notch is facing downwind. Next, drop a RealMotion field stake into the pipe. A horizontal "motion stop" extending from the rod will keep it from falling completely into the pipe. This motion stop will settle into the notch on the end of the pipe. Then set the full-body decoy atop the motion stake so the decoy is pointed upwind and can turn back and forth in the breeze. When adjusted properly, the bottom of the decoy will rest above the water by less than an inch. This gives the decoy freedom to move.
3. Playing the Field
Full-body decoys were originally designed for hunting in dry fields where ducks and geese often feed together. Several full-body duck decoys on motion stakes mixed with goose decoys or concentrated along the downwind edge of a goose rig will help draw ducks as well as geese. Full-body duck decoys can also be used by themselves in dry fields when ducks are the primary quarry.
4. Decoys on Ice
During a hard freeze, ducks routinely crowd into small patches of open water, while other ducks line the edge of the hole on the surrounding ice. Hunters should break open a hole approximately 5-10 yards in diameter and then push broken sheets of ice under the edges of the hole. Pack standard duck floaters together in the open water and arrange full-body decoys on the ice around the edges. Use RealMotion bases so the full-body decoys will move in the wind.
The secret to bagging more ducks is setting decoys where the birds want to be. But beyond that, hunters should use the most innovative and realistic decoy spreads possible. Using full-body decoys in the situations described above will help give your rig the added realism necessary to convince otherwise skittish birds to come join the party.