Avoiding the “Dead Spread”

A challenge for the duck hunter, hunting over water, is how to get life like motion into your spread.  Sure on those perfect days with wind and sun shine, any spread will do.  Ducks dive in because wind and glare do a lot of the deception.  But on those calm and cloudy days, what I like to refer to as “tough” days, you GOTTA have movement or you are dead!
There are a lot ways to add movement and I think I have tried most.  Water pumps, vibrating decoys, spinning wings, jerk strings, propeller decoys have all been in a spread I have hunted over. 
Nowadays, I call Oregon home.  And Oregon has some pretty good hunting. Unfortunately, it also has some pretty restrictive hunting laws.  One of these laws dictates no electronic decoys….of any kind.  No pumps, vibrating decoys, spinning wings, or propeller decoys. 
Leaves me with a jerk string. 
Until now.
Now, I have some G&H “River gator” decoys.  The River Gator is a modified keel, light weight decoy that is designed to deflect water to “push” the decoy back from side to side.  They are advertised for use in the current of streams or rivers.  However I find that with just a slight breeze they will deliver great motion in a pond or lake.  By placing four on the outer ring of my spread I maximize their exposure to wind and gain a side to side swimming motion that is deadly appearance of ducks swimming into a resting group of friends.
When the conditions turn tough, I have a couple of rules.  One is to reduce the size of my spread; less “dead” decoys.  One of the tricks with these River Gator Decoys is to tie a Drake behind a Hen.  The effect is of a Drake chasing the Hen; a common occurrence which is rarely something duplicated in a hunter’s spread.  Putting out six decoys with the center piece being the Drake chasing set-up assures maximize movement in the most natural presentation.
I have also two on a four string jerk string and get great movement, expanding the movement corridor perimeter several feet and creating a lot more motion with the same amount of effort. 
Being a guy who likes to tinker, I do make a couple of modifications to get the absolute most out of these great decoys. 
First, I flock the head and tail of the Drakes.  I only use two colors when I am flocking.  A dark green for the head and black on the tail area.  I do this with all my Drake decoys.  The black flocking just shows up better then black paint.  That is why most premium goose decoys have flocked heads nowadays.  I you ONLY flock the tail end black you will see a big difference when you get those decoys on the water. 
I also flock the heads with a dark green flocking with about 10% purple flocking added in.  This darkens them up and, in my opinion, makes them look better.  The reason I don’t flock the rest of the decoy is that I have a difficult time keeping the other colors clean.  White flocking looks great until you get a little dirt on it and then it looks dirty.  Next time you get a chance to watch some ducks up close see how many of them look dirty.  Exactly, they don’t! 
The black and the dark green are easier for me to keep clean and they really make the decoy POP.  Flocking provides a depth and contour to the decoy that makes it stand out in a way I really like.
My second tip on the River Gator Decoys is to use a split ring at the decoy to tie your decoy line to.  Use a braided line and leave it long.  By doing this you will maximize the energy going to the surface and moving the decoy.  It is the same principle as using a split ring on a crank bait bass lure.  It reduces “drag and allows the decoy to move more freely.  
One last point I will make, G&H Decoys are a quality decoy made here in the good old USA.  Now I will be honest, at this point in my life I try to buy the best gear I can.  I don’t usually consider country of origin unless all else is equal.  In this case, G&H Decoys are a high quality, durable, decoy that lasts and lasts. There are lots of decoys that are of good quality on the market. Durability is the biggest factor separating good to great decoys.  G&H Decoys are great decoys…..in addition, I like to say it is made in America!
Checkem out and if you can give them a try.
Until I see you in the field, be safe, be good, and BE LUCKY!

Dave Proffitt, Owner FOWLEDupWATERFOWLERS.com