Placement of Duck Decoys

Placement of duck decoys is an often overlooked details of duck hunters. With most duck hunters looking forward to increasing the realism and productivity of their spread, proper placement of duck decoys is a very effective tool in getting more ducks to decoy. In this paper, we will discuss placement of duck decoys, its benefits and how you can optimize your decoy spread for increased results.

What is Proper Placement of Duck Decoys?

Proper placement of duck decoys is not as simple as just tossing out decoys within shotgun range. The species of ducks you are targeting, and their natural decoying tendencies play a large role on how you set your spread. Puddle ducks prefer to land in calm water on the outside edge of your decoy spread. Diver ducks will typically fly over distant individual decoys and land toward the front of your spread. So, by proper placement of duck decoys, we mean your spread should be set out properly for the type of bird you are targeting. Place both your diver and puddle duck spread within shotgun range, and string out some diver duck decoys up to 100 yards for increased visibility.

What are the Prime Benefits of Proper Placement of Duck Decoys?

A realistic and well placed decoy spread results in more ducks taking a closer look at your decoy spread, and therefore will convert to increased harvest for your hunting party. A properly placed decoy spread requires less decoys to attract ducks than an improperly placed decoy spread. If you can attract ducks over fewer decoys, you can be a more mobile hunter because you have less decoys to put out and take down every time a change in hunting location is made. Increased mobility equals more ducks. A properly placed decoy spread can separate you from your hunting competition. Ducks will no longer take a look at your spread and decoy into another, they will look at your spread and decoy. This results in increased duck kills.

What are the Key Factors in Proper Placement of Duck Decoys?

Ducks change their decoying habits and decoy spread preferences frequently throughout the season, thereby forcing duck hunters to re-strategize their placement of duck decoys. However, the following attributes are basic and play a major role in consistently decoying ducks.

  • Location – Location plays the most vital role in your duck decoy placement. Hunting in a spot where ducks do not want to be will result in poor success. Scouting is how you perfect the art of location. The number of ducks you kill each year is proportional to how much you scout. If you hunt in a duck club, and have limited choice in your location, you still have a choice. It might only be between blind one and blind two, but you still have a choice. Choose wisely by scouting before the hunt.
  • Landing Zone – leaving a landing zone in your decoy spread will help you control where decoying ducks will be focusing their attention. A landing zone consists of a 10 yard open ended circle where the open end is on the side where decoying ducks make their final approach. Since ducks decoy into the wind, the down wind edge is always open. As the season progresses and the flocks of ducks you are seeing are larger, expanding the size of your landing zone increase success.
  • Numbers of Decoys – The number of decoys in your spread will very by with the type of duck you are hunting, the time of year you are hunting, and the competition present in your hunting area. The more decoys you put out, the more you have to pick up and the less mobile you are. Less mobility equals less kills. Use as few decoys as necessary. Diver ducks fly in larger groups than puddle ducks and require more decoys to get their attention.The later in the duck season you are hunting, the larger the flocks of ducks you will see. This means you will have to increase the number of decoys in your spread to appear natural. As the decoy numbers increase, proper placement of duck decoys becomes critical. Place them out of shotgun range and the mallards will be landing outside your spread.The more competition in your hunting area, the more or less decoys you will need. You want your spread to be different. Given a choice late in the year I would rather have a larger spread than the guy hunting next to me. But, if hunting pressure is very high, a small spread could be the key to success. Try things out but always be different. If you your spread is like everyone else, you will have similar results.
  • Configuration of Decoys Set – Configuring your decoys is critical when running a large decoy spread for migrating late season ducks. Early in the year duck decoy spreads are small and placing them out of range is not an issue. Increase the decoy numbers to two hundred plus decoys and keeping them in shotgun range becomes difficult. Run them very tight and very close to the blind, and do not forget the landing zone.


With duck hunting competition increasing and the uncertainty of duck populations form year to year, proper placement of duck decoys is becoming more critical every year. However, the various techniques outlined in this paper are basic and by following them you will be able to decoy birds every year.

For more goose and duck hunting tips please read other articles located at duck and goose hunting tips.

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