Is it possible to decoy a flock of wood ducks?

Is it possible to decoy a flock of wood ducks?

Is it possible to decoy a flock of wood ducks?

I grew up like many of my peers, jumping into streams and sloughs after school and first thing in the morning on weekends to hunt for wood ducks and other small game animals. Many times it was impossible to fire a shot because of the bush; other times the ducks flew out of range so quickly that I couldn’t hold the pistol. 



The sense of accomplishment that followed when everything came together was particularly poignant after a magnificent drake was in the possession of the hunter’s hands.




As Lowell comforted me, “I’m telling ya, these youngsters are frequently attracting wood ducks to the decoys.” Richard, the then-21-year-old, called me a few days later and urged me to join him on a wood duck hunt, which I accepted. After almost a year of waiting, the opportunity to go on a December hunt finally presented itself.




When Richard said, “It’s time to shoot,” everyone applauded. There will be a flurry of activity in this area.”

The wood ducks were on the lake before I even realized there was a flock of them descending on the decoys, and my pudelpointer, Echo, was on the hunt for them before I could blink. When the explosion occurred, the surrounding region was completely engulfed. 




According to Richard’s prophecy, there was a flurry of wood ducks in the air, and more proceeded to come in from the orchards where they’d been feasting. Additionally, they began descending straight back into the decoys, exactly as he had predicted.




The three-man limit was within striking distance in less than 20 minutes. We had finished the quest in ten minutes, having carefully selected drakes. On her first wood duck hunt, my pudelpointer had a ball retrieving in the water. She was in paradise! I couldn’t speak because there were twenty-one wood ducks at our feet.

Is it possible to decoy a flock of wood ducks?

Situations that are appropriate

I’ve decoyed wood ducks with the Kropf brothers several times since that first encounter three seasons ago. 


Having grown up believing that it was impossible to attract wood ducks to decoys, I was skeptical. I’d tried and failed a number of times before this point. 



After hearing my tales of success, many of the old timers with actual understanding of decoying birds said the same thing: “Wood ducks will not decoy, period.” This was true even after hearing my stories of success.






He grinned and said, “I hear that all the time.” A guy of few words, Richard is an enigma. As I’ve gotten to know him more, he’s emerged as one of the most enthusiastic, modest, and knowledgable waterfowlers I’ve ever had the pleasure of hunting with. When it comes to getting wood ducks to decoy, a lot of people don’t seem to realize that the atmosphere needs to be almost right.




 ” It will not work if the wind is incorrect, the water level is too high or too low, or the birds are descending into a location that is too far away from an opening in which to place your decoys. 



As timid and secretive birds, they will not descend into decoys if they are confronted with an object they do not like or if the circumstances is not just perfect.




Richard mentioned a number of scenarios that were more understandable to me the more time I spent hunting with him. 



Getting wood ducks to land someplace other than where they want them to is the most difficult part of decoying them. They favor dense habitat along tiny streams and sloughs, which is where they love to dive-bomb.

Is it possible to decoy a flock of wood ducks

On every hunt with the Kropf brothers, we’ve set up where a stream narrows significantly, in an area that’s more open than where the ducks generally settle and spend the day roosting, preening, frolicking, and fawning in thick habitat.

 It is these holes that hunters are looking for in order to begin their wood duck decoying quest.



For the first few years of my life (when I was around 15 years old), we mostly jump shot woodies. After that, I became interested in decoying them. “I didn’t want the experience to be ended after a few of short shots; I wanted it to continue.”



Is it possible to decoy wood ducks on a consistent basis? Without a doubt, this is not the case. While decoying any duck is similar, reconnaissance is essential if you want to have a successful decoy operation.





Wood Ducks are being sought after.

Watch for wood ducks entering a narrow stream or brush-lined slough on a river; they will approach at breakneck speed and land almost without hesitation.

 Because they’re moving so quickly through such dense cover, getting a shot off may be almost impossible. The wood ducks are confident in the safety provided by such settings, which they have most likely been utilizing for many weeks.




Richard contacted me in early November of the previous season. “I believe we’ve found a good hunting site. I’m simply going to sit here and watch the wood ducks for a few more days since there are around 75 of them in a corner of a stream. It is very possible that you may wish to spend some time with me one afternoon.” I didn’t think twice about it.



The next day, Richard and I were out in the creek corner, counting wood ducks and keeping an eye on their movements with binoculars and a spotting scope. Then we got closer and closer together. 


We arrived at the location where Richard was planning to put up the blind to hunt from an hour later, despite the fact that our approach was obscured by dense bush.



For the next two hours, we sat and watched wood ducks swim up and down the stream, several of them within 10 feet of us on each side. The season was still open, and we could have gone out and shot some birds, but in the late afternoon, you’d be fortunate to get three shots off in the dense cover before the game was finished for the day. 



According to Richard, “If we went out and shot these birds right now, we may get a couple, but the rest would most likely not return for many days or weeks, if not the remainder of the season.”




In the words of Richard, “Once we have a few more birds coming in here at daylight, we’ll get serious about hunting it.” When you see wood ducks in the afternoon, they are not always in or near the same location where they fly into in the morning. 



Prior to committing to a hunt, you’ll want to make certain that there are a large number of birds landing near where you intend to hunt in the morning.” The opportunity to hunt this creek presented itself two weeks later, and it proved to be a resounding success.




With the hopes of decoying wood ducks, Richard kept an eye on three additional locations last season–two creeks and one slough along the banks of an oxbow lake with fast-flowing muddy water. 


Those locations, however, were never in a good hunting scenario for us, owing in large part to the torrential rains we had, which dispersed the wood ducks. As a result, we never went hunting at any of those locations.



When we go duck hunting, the wood ducks come in to roost in the morning after feasting all night in filbert orchards, which some people refer to as hazelnut orchards. If you call them hazelnuts in the neighborhood, you’ll receive a strange look that will make you feel very uncomfortable. 



Growing up in Oregon’s Willamette and McKenzie river basins, I was exposed to some of the world’s most productive soils for this crop, which included filbert nation. Interestingly enough, my grandparents and several of their neighbors had a filbert orchard, and I remember going on some great wood duck hunts in them as a child.



In today’s world, the filbert business in the Pacific Northwest is thriving, thanks to an increase in worldwide demand for these delicious nuts. Wood duck populations are increasing as a result of increased food availability in our area. 



This is just one example of how identifying a high-protein food source that wood ducks eat and a body of water where they roost may result in decoying behavior that is nothing short of fantastic. For example, I’ve had successful wood duck hunts near plantations of Russian olives in the past.




In order to find them, Richard checks a nearby location early in the morning for a few days in a row before heading out to look for them. “I’ve been hunting these areas since I was a youngster, so I’m familiar with where the wood ducks tend to hang out. The moment to become serious about hunting them comes when the bird population reaches 75 or 100 birds. 


But before determining where to hunt, I want to make sure the birds are in an area where I can hunt.” Many of the locations where wood ducks arrive in the morning are unfavorable for decoying, thus those are the locations where jump-shotting is most effective.



Duck Decoys Made of Wood

The decoys are the most straightforward component of the decoying process for wood ducks. When it comes to wood ducks, in this day and age of large puddle duck and goose decoy spreads, the idea is to keep things as simple as possible.




In Richard’s words, “I just put out a half-dozen or so wood duck decoys, perhaps a dozen at the most.” “I’m doing this because I want to imitate the first few birds in the morning landing in a position where they wouldn’t typically land, and I want to make sure there’s plenty of landing space for fast-approaching ducks.”


 Decoying wood ducks takes place in confined spaces, and if there are too many decoys in the water, the holes get clogged, reducing the number of landing locations.




Every time I’ve decoyed wood ducks in streams with Richard, we’ve set up in little openings where wood ducks wouldn’t ordinarily settle, and we’ve had great success.



 In these open areas, the decoy spread can always be seen by approaching birds since it is always within 50 yards of where the birds often set up shop. As Richard points out, “if you can’t reach within 40 or 50 yards of where the ducks generally settle in the morning, it’s nearly difficult to draw them in.”




Unlike certain puddle ducks, wood ducks will not hesitate to land in running water, which is not often the case with other species of ducks. When it comes to enticing hesitant woodies, “if I can throw a couple decoys in a stream where the water keeps them moving, that’s ideal,” Richard says with a grin. “If there isn’t any flowing water, I’ll place a pair of mallards on a jerk rope in the open and maybe another pair of mallards next to them. 



This is due to the fact that mallards–despite the fact that they are not as numerous in little streams as wood ducks–will come in and that they are the ones that will often linger and dabble in the open. 



As soon as wood ducks touch down, they begin swimming tightly to the beach, where they feel secure and protected. In the event that wood ducks see mallards moving about, they will believe the area is secure, and putting wood duck decoys between the moving mallards and a brushy coastline might be the solution.”




According to Richard, if the decoys are not landing in the hole he has made, he would occasionally fill up the hole, causing the decoys to land closer to the brush line and outside of the decoys. Under any case, these ducks prefer to land in dense cover, so we’re contradicting nature by urging them to land in the open, despite the fact that the body of water is tiny.




Wood Ducks are being called in.

When it comes to calling, Richard is a strong believer that wood duck whistles are an effective method. “I prefer to have a whistle going the whole time, and if we have mallard decoys in the spread, it’s beneficial to have a mallard call as well. ” The mallard call does not have to be used often, but it does assist attract the attention of woodies who like to drop right into the tight spaces where you don’t want them to go.”




Wood ducks are very loud and gregarious creatures, even while they are resting during the day. Over the years, I’ve sat for hours at a time, watching them play, bathe, and swim up and down streams all day, and it never gets old. A large number of these birds have been called in by Richard in the afternoon, when they have responded to his whistles without the use of decoys.




The flight of a wood duck in the morning is short. If something isn’t functioning, make a modification as soon as possible. If you spend too much time second-guessing yourself, you’ll miss out on valuable hunting time. For example, if a small flock of birds lands in an area you don’t want them to, the hunt will become a dry-run since that’s where the remainder of the arriving birds will land as well.




The more people I’ve told about my newfound enthusiasm for decoying wood ducks, and the more individuals who have confirmed that it works, the more shocks I’ve had. To be sure, there are those doubters who still believe that wood ducks can never be decoyed, and that is great; to each his or her own. 



However, the ones that greet you with a grin and share their tales of accomplishment have taken me by surprise, since there are much more of them than I had anticipated. These are the hunters who put in the effort to achieve success and who are well-versed in their field.




Decoying wood ducks around the nation seems to be a favorite pastime of a little fraternity, and it is really achievable in a variety of situations. As with any duck hunting excursion, the key to success is to put in an honest effort, which takes time, effort, and the ability to hunt strategically. 



As your confidence grows, so will the amount of wood duck interactions you will have to look forward to in the coming months. It won’t be long until you’re hooked to the difficulties and good times you’ll have while decoying one of the most visually appealing and delicious ducks the world of waterfowl hunting has to offer.