Choosing The Best Duck Decoys For Hunting

With so many different types of duck decoys on the market today, choosing one might seem like a difficult task, especially if you're a newcomer to the sport of duck hunting. About a century ago, people made decoys as simple as possible, oftentimes being constructed using just cattails and other types of grasses woven together into the shape of a duck. Today, though, decoys are made out of a variety of materials and range from the very basic standing decoys to life-like, motorized decoys.

Choosing Duck Decoy

Why Choosing The Right Decoys Is Important

Choosing the right duck decoys will be a crucial factor in the success of your hunt. If your decoy spread doesn't look natural to the ducks flying in your area, they will fly by without hesitation. On the other hand, if your decoy spread looks appealing, they will fly directly towards it. So, how do you know which decoys will work the best? Unfortunately, there's no easy way to tell without going out and seeing for yourself, but knowing what's available and understanding how they work will help you make a better decision when it comes to choosing your decoys.

Decoys That Match The Ducks

When hunting for ducks, you'll want to use decoys that match the species of ducks you're hunting. If you don't know what species are in the area, go scout the area with some binoculars beforehand and take note of both the types of ducks flying in the area and the size of the flocks. If you see mallard ducks flying in the area, you'll want to use a spread that consists mostly of mallard duck decoys. If you see redhead ducks, use a spread with mostly redhead duck decoys.

Other than the duck decoys, other swan or crane decoys can also be placed to create a more complex and realistic looking environment. Also known as "confidence decoys", these are decoys of docile birds that are easily scared and hence do not settle at any place unless it is safe. These birds also fly at the slightest doubt of safety. Placing confidence decoys in your setup will bring a sense of reliability to the hunting area.

Different Materials Duck Decoys are Made ofCattails Bullrushes

In the early days, people constructed duck decoys out of what ever was available to them in their environment. Native Americans used cattails to make very basic decoys that still proved to be effective. Today, decoys are manufactured using a range of materials. Knowing what your decoy is made out of is important because the material will oftentimes affect performance of the decoy. Below is a list of some of the most commonly used materials in the manufacturing of duck decoys.

Duck Decoy Materials

  • Wooden duck decoys have been used for hundreds of years and are proven to be quite effective overall. They don't weigh much, hold paint well, and can be carved with great detail to look realistic.
  • Duck decoys constructed from cork have also proven to be effective. One of the benefits to using this kind of decoy is their extremely light weight, making them easy to carry to and from your hunting area. Since cork tends to damage easily, cork decoys may not last as long as other types.
  • Plastic duck decoys are durable, inexpensive, easily made, and generally work well on the water. While they may not have as great of detail as carved wooden decoys, decoys made from plastic are still one of the best choices around.
  • Some people make their own decoys made of foam. It's super cheap and lightweight, but damages easily.

Duck Decoy Sizes

Most duck decoys come in just one or two sizes, standard and magnum. Standard decoys are the size of an average duck, while magnum decoys are a bit larger. The benefit of using magnum sized decoys is that they are easier for ducks to spot, making them ideal for larger bodies of water.

Motorized GearMotorized Duck Decoys

Long gone are the days of having to use boring lifeless decoys. Since it's common knowledge that the more realistic your duck decoys look, the greater the chance that ducks will approach, companies have began producing decoys that simulate their natural movements in the water through a motorized function by bobbing their heads in and out of the water, flapping their wings, or just swimming around in a circle.

Based on my personal experience, using decoy spreads with movement will perform better than those without. This isn't to say that you can just go throw some motorized decoys into the water and wait for the magic to happen. You still need to follow the same basic principles of making your spread look as natural as possible. Here's a tip, though, you don't have to use a spread that's made entirely of motorized decoys. Instead, use a mix of still and motion decoys.

One of the most popular types of motorized decoys on the market today are the spinning wing mojo duck decoys. These decoys duplicate the natural movement a duck makes as they land in the water by splashing their wings.

Pros of Using Motorized Duck Decoys

  • Since motorized decoys imitate the ducks natural movements in the water, your spread will look more natural.
  • The painting on motorized decoys typically holds well and will withstand many seasons of duck hunting.
  • Motorized decoys often come with remote controls that will allow you to control the speed of movement from your hunting blind.

Cons of Using Motorized Duck Decoys

  • Most motorized duck decoys are heavier and bulkier than standard decoys, making them more difficult to haul around.
  • With the price tag of some motorized decoys exceeding $100, buying a dozen of them be a bit too expensive.
  • The majority of motorized decoys will need batteries to run.

Motorized Duck Decoys - Laws and Regulations

It's important to note that note that a few states here in the U.S. have regulations set forth by the Game and Fish office that may prohibit or limit the use of motorized decoys when hunting. If you're wanting to use a decoy spread that consists of motorized ducks, check with your local game and fish office to make sure you aren't breaking the law.


Domestic Ducks