Make Your Own Decoys
Homemade Silhouette Decoys
Adding more decoys to your spread can be a daunting task, but doing so doesn't always have to mean less money in your wallet! For instance, a dozen silhouette decoys cost an average of $150.00, but if you follow these easy steps to make your own, you could save $100.00 and have triple the number of decoys for your spread.
The steps and pictures for how to build your own silhouette decoys come from Rob Bradley, a faithful Lone Duck Community member, and seasoned waterfowl hunter. Here's how to get started:
Step 1: Find used real estate signs and start collecting them. Once you have built a decent collection, it's time to make your template decoys. Rob used a silo sock decoy to create his first template. If you don't have a silo sock decoy, you could enlarge a picture of a goose or try drawing it freehand. Rob suggested making several body style templates: a feeder, a sentry, and an active style. Rob used a jigsaw and standard blade for cutting out the decoys.
Step 2: Use flat or mat colors to paint the decoys. You don't want them to shine in the morning sun, which could flare incoming birds. Select a picture of the species you're going to imitate and start painting. You don't need to be Michael Angelo for this; slap some paint on, match up the important markings, and do your best!
Step 3: Rob uses a 2.4mm welding rod for the decoy stakes, but if you're able to salvage the metal stakes from the original real estate signs, you could use those. Attach the rods to either the belly of the decoy or to the head. These decoys should move with the wind, adding realism to your spread.
Step 4: Step back and marvel at what you've just created at such a low cost!
Silhouette decoys add numbers to your spread, but their placement within the spread must be strategic. Charlie Haviland of Backwater Guide Service and Ozark Custom Calls, helps explain how to use them properly so you can lock more birds up and get more retrieves for your gun dog.
Charlie's advice varies from early season to late season, as the birds see more spreads and progress through their migration. In New York's early season, he uses 12-18 full body decoys, which simulates the smaller groups moving from food plot to water and back. Mid-season he suggests increasing the set up by adding the silhouettes to the outer edges and on the downwind side. If you can, place these on higher ground to increase their visibility. By placing these less realistic decoys on the downwind, outer edge, you will have less of a chance of flaring the approaching birds. Charlie prefers his late-season spreads to be around 200-250 decoys, made up of 2-3 dozen full bodies surrounding the blinds, 125-150 shells and 30-50 silhouettes.
Now that your decoy spread is complete, get out and shoot some clay birds! You're going to have a lot more birds drop into your spread, so get all the practice you can!
If you have any questions on silhouette decoys spreads please contact:
Rob Bradley: @CumbriaRhino on Twitter, or
Charlie Haviland: @backwaterguide on Twitter or www.thebackwaterguideservice.webs.com