What are confidence decoys for duck hunting
Confidence decoys for duck hunting are decoys that imitate other waterfowl species who visit the same areas and habitats ducks do. They’re used by hunters to increase the realism of their decoy spread and entice ducks to land closer to their hunting blind.
Types of confidence decoys include:
Coots are smaller and darker in color than most ducks, and spend much of their time in the water as opposed to in the air. They can be found in duck hunting areas with short to medium size vegetation sticking above the water’s surface. They’re usually hanging out in and around the edges of vegetation where they eat leaves, seeds, and aquatic invertebrates.
Starting at minute 1:39 in the video above, take notice of how well the coot’s black silhouette stands out against the water in low light conditions.
Why coot decoys work:
While coots are not the weariest waterfowl species, they do offer the advantage of being black in color, which is easily seen by ducks flying overhead. Coot decoys are a great addition to your spread when hunting early mornings and late afternoons because they’re more easily seen by ducks than lighter colored decoys are. They’re also smaller and lighter weight than duck decoys, allowing hunters to carry several into the field.
Coot decoys should be placed along the edges of short to medium size aquatic vegetation where they would be located in their natural environment. It’s best not to place them directly in the vegetation as it may hinder their ability to be spotted by ducks flying overhead. While adding 1 or 2 coot decoys to a spread won’t hurt, including 6-12 will provide a much better chance of being noticed by ducks.
Check out these coot decoys from Bass Pro by clicking on the image below:
Herons are much larger than ducks. They stand tall above the water while searching for food.
In the video above, notice how high above the water the Heron is. This is a huge advantage because it can be seen by ducks from long distances away.
Why Heron decoys work:
Using Herons in a decoy spread is a sure way to inspire confidence in ducks. Herons are some of the “spookiest” waterfowl around, and ducks know if Herons are present, the area has been looked over closely for predators laying in wait for their next meal.
Herons usually hunt for food alone, walking very slowly along the water’s edge often not moving a muscle for extended periods of time. Packing Heron decoys into a hunting area can be awkward and take up a lot of room, there’s little to any benefit in having more than one included in your spread.
Heron decoys should be placed along the edge of the water, 50 to 75 yards away from the duck decoys. They should be set in shallow water so they have maximum height for optimal visibility.
Why motion decoys work:
Realism of a duck decoy spread can be increased by imitating movement and gestures that ducks exhibit in their natural state. Ducks never seem to truly be “at rest”. They’re always swimming around looking for danger, bobbing for food, or stretching out their wings.
One mistake I see made with motion decoys, is using the models that create unrealistic stop and start movements, or that create unnatural slashes in the water. These types of decoys can actually do more to flare ducks than actually attract them.
The video below is not great quality, but it shows a great example of how ducks are constantly in motion.
You may notice there’re several different types of “movement” within the group. This is a testament to how important it is to have various types of motion decoys within your spread instead just one style. Click here to learn more about spinning wing decoys.
Many waterfowl hunters think of goose decoys as something to be used only when goose hunting, but they also make great additions to a duck spread.
Why goose decoys work:
There are two primary benefits to adding goose floaters in with duck decoys. The first, is that their large dark bodies add visibility for ducks at long distances which increases the chance they’ll spot your spread. The second, ducks in the wild are used to seeing a variety of species on the water. Goose decoys increase this variety in both color and shape.
To use goose floaters as confidence decoys, they should grouped together separately from the duck spread and placed on the outer edges. To take full advantage of the increased visibility they add, they should be placed in open water where they’re not blocked from the duck’s line of vision. 6-12 goose floaters is plenty to get the desired effect.
Check out goose decoys from Bass Pro by clicking the image below:
Why use confidence decoys
Confidence decoys are used in duck hunting because they increase the realism of the scene a hunter is trying to create. Other species frequent the same types of habitat ducks do, so including confidence decoys in a spread signals to ducks they have found a safe place to land.
The lack of confidence decoys may cause a decoy spread to appear as though the ducks haven’t been there for long, thus indicating they haven’t become comfortable in the area yet.
When to use confidence decoys
Confidence decoys add the most value when hunting pressured ducks that’ve been in the same area for an extended period of time. They allow your spread to appear natural, and differentiate yourself from other hunters. While they can be used in any situation, they’re especially valuable when hunting on public land.
Confidence Decoys to Avoid
Swans decoys and motion decoys that display unnatural movements and gestures should be avoided as confidence decoys.
While Swan decoys may add an element of realism to a spread, they can also signal to ducks that there are better places to land. This is because Swans can be very territorial and chase away ducks they feel are invading their space. Swan decoys should also be avoided because they’re very large and bulky which makes them hard to haul in and out of a hunting area.
Motion decoys to avoid:
As mentioned previously, motion decoys can add movement to a spread of duck decoys which can be very beneficial. On the other hand, there are several motion decoys on the market that create the appearance of too much and or unnatural movements and water disturbances. A few examples of motion decoys I’ve found to do more harm than good for duck hunting are: Flag decoys and decoys that spray too much water in the air.
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