A:
Question: 
Hey guys I got a couple question for you. I am new to running a mother line for divers. I am wanting to know,(1) how far apart you set decoys on the line, (2) the depths on the lake I hunt run from 10ft to 100ft what would be the simplest way to anchor them down with the different depths. (3) what pattern should I use straight line, J hook or tight together and how long should the mother line be. Thanks for all the information you have to offer.

Not answered yet.

A:
Question: 
do you find that a jerk string makes your decoy spread more real and do you use it often

Duck Thangs and Wonder Ducks make it happen!

Buckshot,

Without a doubt jerk strings work, but there is a better way.

I am a firm believer that motion and ripples on the water in a decoy spread trump ultra realistic decous and huge spreads every time. Therefore, I NEVER go into the field without some way to put a ripple on the water on a calm day. For years I wore my arm out every day pulling on a jerk cord with up to a dozen blocks tied to it. More recently I have abandoned my jerk string in favor of the Duck Thang and a few Wonder Ducks.

Today we use a Duck Thang threaded throughout the hole with a couple dozen decoys to give the appearence of ducks swimming, and then we further enhance the spread with a combination of up to half a dozen Wonder Duck Cyclones and Tornados. By doing this we get tremendous movement, we get by with a much smaller spread, and my arm does not fell like it is about to fall off at the end of the day!

Thanks,

J. Paul

Q: Spread
A:
Question: 
Ive been hunting ducks for about 10 years and have hunted everything from rivers to small and large lakes and ponds. Primarily we hunt a small lakes and use 4-5 dozen decoys with 6-12 canadas as well. Primarily we hunt mallards. What is your expert suggestion on decoy placements... J, large groups, podding, etc??? We are average to above average callers and have very nice equipment...just want to make sure we are setting decoys to the best of our abilities. Thanks!!

I really like the "J" hook and the split set. It sounds like you have used the J before, and are familiar with it. I always set this up with my "hook" on the upwind side of the blind. I also like the split set where we will place a small number of dekes on the downwind side of the hole in tight to the cover, and a larger, looser spread on the upwind side.

Finally, I like to bunch my decoys based on where we are at in the season. In the early season we will often group our decoys by sex, with more drakes in the spread than hens to imitate the "bachelor" groups frequently seen in the early season. Late in the season we tend to pair drakes and hens together more.

Thanks for the question and good luck,
J. Paul Jackson
Host, Drake's Migration Nation

A:
Question: 
Hey so I'm 15 1/2. We own a 80 acre pond type area. I mainly hunt with my dad where we put 5 dozen mallards and about a dozen sprig and teal. And usually put 8-10 speck or snow floaters. What should I do if I want to kill more specks and snows. By the way I'm trying o find some goose and duck calls, and decoys. Any recommendations?

Big Goose45,

Thanks for the question. Let's start first by talking about decoys and Specks and Snows. I am believer in a combination of realism and movement. For both ducks and Specks the size of the spread is usually not as important as how visible it is and how much movement you have in the blocks. On a number of occasions we have successfully fooled Specks with a half dozen dekes and good calling. Snow geese, on the other hand are another matter altogether. To be successful with Snows the larger the spread, the better. If you are setting out a rig each day to take a combination of species, you are probably already doing all that you can for Snows.

About calls. Quality calling is very important when it comes to decoying Specklebellies. Haydel game calls makes some of the best Speck calls out there, and their Specklybelly Compensator is an excellent call for a beginner. As for duck calls, I blow a Calef Double Curl most of the time, however there are a number of excellent duck call makers. As a general rule, a double reed is easier for the novice caller to blow, so I would suggest that you start with an affordable double reed and move on to a more versatile single reed acrylic as your skill improves.

Hope this helps!
J. Paul

A:
Question: 
I was wondering what your guys' opinion would be as far as species serperation in your decoy spreads. Usually where we hunt here in wisconsin we will run about 5 dozen mallards, a dozen pintail, and a dozen gadwall and wigeon in our spread and usually we will put the pintail in clear sight for a confidence decoy, but then with our mallards i was wondering if you would recommend mixing some gadwall and wigeon in with them? Same goes with teal.

James,

I think that it is great that you are mixing species to add realism to your decoys, and I definitely think that having variety in your spread makes close working birds more confident. Gadwall and Widgeon mix with Mallards all the time, so mixing them in with your spread can only help if you hunt in an area that has all three species. The key is to keep it real. For instance, you will notice that "big ducks" like Mallards and Pintails often fly together, whereas "little ducks", like Teal and Blackjacks usually fly with their own kind. Therefore, when I am setting up a spread with a mix off species I try to segregate the little ducks by kind instead of just throwing them haphazardly in the "big duck" part of the spread.

With that said, I believe that there is no substitute for movement in the decoys. On a calm day I would rather have a dozen beat up decoys on a jerk string than 5 dozen brand new dekes gleaming in the sun! Mixing species in your decoys will certainly help to fool wary ducks, but remember that you also need movement in the decoys, too.

Respectfully,
J. Paul

Most guys put too much thought into other species. Think about this, the mallard is the most common and vocal species of duck and other ducks readily decoy to them. I've experimented with putting a few sprig off to the side and can't definitively say it has made a difference.

What I will recommend though is to add some honker decoys to your spread. Place them right where you want the ducks to finish and see if that doesn't increase your success!
Barnie Calef

A:
Question: 
I’ve read all the basic information about different decoy spreads and ways to arrange them in your hole. What are some other suggestions for making my decoy spread look realistic? Todd S. – Alabama

Ducks muddy the water where they feed. If you're riding to your blind in your boat, ride through your decoys to muddy the water. Too, when you're putting decoys out, stir-up the bottom. If you're hunting with three or four other hunters, all of you need to walk around the decoys to muddy the water before getting into the blind. Muddy water acts like a magnet to pull ducks out of the sky. If ducks spot muddy water from high in the sky and see the decoys sitting on that off-colored water, the birds have no reason not to believe that what they're seeing is a group of actively-feeding ducks. The more realistic you make the decoys appear, the more likely that you'll draw in high-flying ducks.   Generally clustering decoys in small groups tends to bring in ducks better than other systems. Many waterfowlers like to have some big groups of decoys and some small groups of two to eight decoys sitting away from the main body of decoys. Leave a flight path for the ducks to come in to as well as open water right over the blind in which the ducks can light. Ducks usually fly and feed in small groups. Sometimes several small groups may feed together to form a large group. But even in a big flock of ducks, you'll see small groups of ducks feeding away from the main body. In the big group of decoys, place one decoy or a pair of decoys for the focus duck that will, in some way, look different from the rest of the decoys in the main group. You may use two pintail decoys in a group of mallard decoys or two black duck decoys in a group of mallard decoys as focus ducks. Put your focus decoys on the downwind side of your main group of decoys in the exact spot where you want the ducks to land. Rod Haydel – Haydel’s Game Calls