Rules of at­trac­tion

Alan Jar­rett tells us why, some­times, all you need to trick the ducks and re­turn home with a full bag is a few small de­coys, scat­tered in art­ful dis­ar­ray

Sporting Shooter - - Wildfowling -

It was one of those days with lit­tle mov­ing as the tide flooded. The bay to my front was choked with spartina grass, and it would be less than a cou­ple of hours be­fore high wa­ter made the de­coys vis­i­ble to pass­ing ducks.

Three times, pairs of teal passed im­per­vi­ously some 150 yards away. If only the tide would hurry there might be a chance of draw­ing some birds off that flight line; it would flood all around, and this would give the op­por­tu­nity for cre­ative use of the de­coys. Eight of them were dropped into the spartina, while a pair were placed on the higher salt­marsh to my rear, and would not be fully afloat un­til al­most high wa­ter.

De­coy­ing ducks is not sim­ply a mat­ter of dump­ing a ‘flock’ in front of the hide and hop­ing for the best. The de­coys have to look nat­u­ral, and there is noth­ing more nat­u­ral-look­ing than odds and ends of teal scat­tered around. This is a ruse I have of­ten used, and it can have a deadly ef­fect. On this day, it most cer­tainly did; a trio of teal passed the main pat­tern be­fore a sin­gle cock bird broke away and dived to the cun­ningly-placed pair. A few min­utes later this was re­peated. This time a sin­gle cock bird passed the de­coys but fell for the pair on the salt­ing top.

Much later, when the tide was al­most out of the salt­ing and only a pair of de­coys re­mained vis­i­ble on the edge of the spartina, an­other sin­gle cock teal came with com­plete con­fi­dence to be­come my fi­nal bird of the day.

While much of our wild­fowl­ing is car­ried out at dawn and dusk with flighting birds, the op­por­tu­nity to add a dif­fer­ent di­men­sion to the sport, and to oc­ca­sion­ally get a de­cent bag as well, should not be missed. That means get­ting the birds in close, which in turn means know­ing your salt­marsh and the ways of the birds that are us­ing it.

De­coy­ing is by no means straight­for­ward if the best re­sults are to be achieved. There are many per­mu­ta­tions, and flex­i­bil­ity and guile are an im­por­tant part of the wild­fowler’s reper­toire. The time of the sea­son is also a fac­tor. What might work when the mi­grant birds have first ar­rived will not nec­es­sar­ily work against the wily end-of-sea­son birds that may have seen a de­coy pat­tern hun­dreds of times!

In most sit­u­a­tions, less can be more. There is a

Late-sea­son birds will be es­pe­cially cau­tious, so you will need to ad­just your pat­tern ac­cord­ingly to lure

them in.

De­coys have to look nat­u­ral and be care­fully placed

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.