Decoy spreads are important for any hunt, but especially for public land duck hunting. There’s a lot more to it than throwing out decoys and loading your gun. A well thought out spread can be the key difference between a good hunt and a bad hunt. We will go into a little bit deeper detail of our spreads from our Missouri public hunt “Stacked Against US”. This video talks about how we set up, but there is more depth to it than just, “hey let’s hunt like this today”.
Let’s jump right into day two when we make it into the area to hunt. Now, as the video shows, we drew the last number and got in, barely, but hey we’re in. This is where decoy strategies come into play right off the bat. Being dead last, of course we get the leftovers. This means we will be hunting in a crowded section of the pool. Some of the guys have seen people walk away from these spots because they don’t want to deal with all the pressure. They don’t want to be in these holes with huge numbers of parties, but to us this is no big deal. Decoy spreads can really work wonders in these scenarios.
The name of the game is simple, maybe too simple, sometimes people forget. It’s called being different! I’m sure a lot of public land hunters have your favorite areas to hunt and know generally what everyone is “kind of” doing. This is no different here. Nick and Elliot know these Missouri spots all too well. In this crowed pool everyone will run normally five dozen decoys or even less. Coming into this trip we packed for hunting areas just like this! We came prepared by packing seven to eight dozen decoys.
In the video we talk about how stale the birds were. In this pool, the birds know the game within days, but still use the heavily hunted area. The ducks pick a spot that is safe, obviously, it’s always where the hunters aren’t. Then the piling in of ducks begins. To offset this we just simulated this occurrence with the huge spread out in the open water off the beaten path of everyone else. They fly over seeing everyone else’s four to five dozen spread. Just like any other day, then they see what looks like a pile of birds. A pile of birds the day before was safe but today we were hiding in the shadows. Using simple techniques like this lead to our success on this day. Our four man limit with three bonus pintails blew the average of not only our pool we hunted in, but the whole area’s average that day which was a 2.5 birds per person. This day goes to show how simple decoy strategies can go a long way.
Do As Ducks Do
On our last day, day three, of the Missouri trip we hunted a pool all to ourselves as the video alluded to, but our spread idea goes back to the day prior. On day two, we had countless ducks land right into the flooded corn around us. Now if we weren’t filming and it was just four buddies, the hunt would have been quicker, but shooting birds off camera isn’t really how these filming hunts work. So we took this all into account for our final day. We found a spot behind some corn to hide. Deeper into the corn than probably most would go. Then proceeded to put our decoys right at the edge of the corn and in the corn, simulating what we saw yesterday. We could have thrown all the decoys we had out on this particular hunt but we decided since there was no pressure from other hunters we will lessen the numbers to look more natural. With stale birds the best move is to do as the ducks do. This setup gave us a lot more “kill hole” shots which couldn’t have worked out any better for the cameras. In the video the birds had no fear flying right up to the edge of the corn which gave us chip shots all morning with virtually no calling at all.
There’s a lot more than just going hunting and throwing out decoys based on a guess. Hunts can be effected by a lot of different elements, but don’t let one of them be something as simple as your decoys. Hunting public ground has a lot to offer you and in return you can learn from it. Going out to hunt is always fun but don’t make it routine and put yourself into a rut. Go out and learn something from every hunt. Keeping your mind open to what’s happening around you will only make you better than the guy a couple spots over. I feel like this is why I’ve seen a lot of friends get out the sport. Like the old saying, “learn something new every day”. There is a lot of waterfowlers that hunt public ground and we hope this only helps you to be more successful in this sport.