Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Fall Decoy Tune Up

This is the time to get your decoys spruced up if you haven't done so yet. Even though I have been out in the field with bow in hand chasing elk recently, I have been reminded that waterfowl season is less than a month away. Already I have heard and seen the first flights of White Fronted and Canada Geese heading for milder climates to the south. Sometimes I think I grabbed the wrong weapon before heading out the door. None the less I am giving the elk and myself a rest for a few days.

While I try not to go crazy worrying about missing a day of elk season I will look over all my decoys to check lines, weights and if they need a splash of paint. There are several retailers from which you can buy decoy paints and even kits per waterfowl species. Years ago I made a dozen wooden Canvasback decoys. I ordered glass eyes and paint from Cabela's and have really enjoyed being able to hunt over them. I use weighted keels secured to the bottom of the decoy to get them to float properly and not list to one side or the other. This was primarily due to the fact that they were hollow bodies. So if there wasn't the same amount of wood on either side than they had a tendency to lean to the heavier side. The lead keels solved this problem. The keels go way back to the days when all their were were wooden decoys. It was also important for the decoy to have the correct waterline, so to speak. Generally diving ducks sit lower in the water as compared to their dabbler relatives. Plastics had not been developed yet. If anyone is interested in making your own, send me an email and I'll be happy to get you started. There are few things in the waterfowl world as satisfying as watching your own handmade decoys bobbing in the waves, drawing in late season Divers. What a thrill!

Back to the tune up now. I set out all the decoys either on the lawn or in my living room depending on weather and how long I am going to spend doing this. If you haven't washed them off from last season then now is the time, best set'em outside for this. I use a soft plastic bristled brush to help remove marsh mud and muck without harming the paint. Then I let them dry and separate them into 3 groups:

1. A.O.K.
2. Light tough up
3. Major touch up

Also check the decoy lines for any fraying, poor knots, to many knots or lack of anchors. This is also the time to make changes to the lenght of lines and the weights. If hunting large open bodies of water longer lines and heavier weights are needed. Where as just the opposite is true for shallow marshes and flooded fields. I have been using large snap swivels on my decoy lines so I can make this switch depending on where the ducks are. I also have dedicated decoys for hunting the Klamath River as those are predominately diving ducks. Requiring long lines 15 to 20 feet and heavy weights. When hunting the flooded fields I have puddle duck decoys with short lines about 3 to 4 foot long and light weights.

All the above is also true for goose decoys. If you use shells it's important not to stack to many together and also to make sure they are sitting either upright or on their backs. This way the plastic will not become ill shaped from being stored improperly. I have seen it more than once and it's an expensive lesson to learn. With the goose decoys there are lots of new options to choose from. Such as to flock or not to flock? I have used both and as much as I like the realistic head flocking it is not easy to maintain. It does get bumped and brushed off eventually. I start with them flocked and realize that by the end of the season they will need some touching up. No big deal and it's just part of my fall prep anymore. Again you can get head flocking materials from Cabela's and most major waterfowl catalog companies.

When you finish getting your decoys all dialed in then it's time to go through your gear bag and make sure your waders don't leak and sew up any holes in your hunting vest. Buy new reeds for your calls if needed or maybe splurge and get that call that you've been dreaming of since last season. Just give all your gear a good once over. I bet you'll be checking the calendar again for how long til the opener and reminiscing about past hunts. Enjoy the entire experience. After all hunting season is short.

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt


Live to Hunt.... said...

Terry, this post has me in a panic! I am SO far behind this year - I haven't touched my decoys. I am working this weekend at our company convention and we are off to Canada next Saturday. Yikes! I need to get busy.

Blessed said...

this process is so familiar!

We store our goose decoys in the attic - all of our full bodies, fully assembled and standing around, our shells carefully stacked, our floating decoys out of the bags and lined up side-by-side... just to keep from having any funny shaped decoys from the plastic warping in the hot up there during the summer! We have quite a few decoys so it takes awhile to get them all up there right, but it sure is worth the effort! Oh, and next time I'm in the attic I'll have to take a picture :)

Terry Scoville said...

Hey LTH, didn't mean to give you a start! I am sure you'll burn the midnight oil checking over your decoys and sprucing them up. Looks like a good year for the Klamath Basin.

Blessed, sounds like the voice of experience. You're definitely ahead of the curve storing them like you do. I would love to see a photo of them all lined up, spectacular!

gary said...

I'll tell you Terry, some of this blog is foriegn language to some of us non-water fowlers. I've shot my share of ducks but never over deeks. Many years ago dad had some old wooden malard decoys and I can't tell you how many times I wished I had one. Not for hunting over, but I think they make a great piece of decor at the office or at home. That probably doesn't make a lot of sense to someone who loves the practicality of them, but they just have an aura thats kind of riviting.

Don't forget to go elk hunting tomorrow!


Terry Scoville said...

Gary, those old wooded deeks are fetching quite a pretty penny these days. Check them out on Ebay sometime. They can sell up into the 6 figures. Talk about a nice investment. I have a modest collection of old decoys that were my dad's and I enjoy their presence immensely. Wish I could afford to own more of them.
Yes, this evening will find me out in the Elk.

The Downeast Duck Hunter said...

Just got going on the eider decoys today, I use some Amazing Goop marine sealant to patch up the holes in the Carry-Lites and splash on some white & black to make them dazzle. However, I'm convinced I could get an eider to decoy with 2 liter Coke bottles painted black and me wearing a blaze orange vest.

My father did carve a set of twenty surf scoters last winter. I suppose I should take some pictures and put them on the blog.

It's hard to believe that opening day is right around the corner. Looks like the Rabid Outdoorsman and I will be hitting the famous Merrymeeting Bay for the 2nd and 3rd day of duck hunting season in Maine. Hope all is well.


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