May 10, 2021
By Jace Bauserman
He hadn’t hunted in years but was insistent on getting back in the duck game. Not sure where to start, he turned to me for help. Two hours later we were looking at decoys in a box store. His eyes got wide when he saw the intense realism and flocked nature of the fakes. He looked at me and asked, “Are these really necessary?” I smiled. Then he went on to say, “They look like they belong in a museum not floating in a river.”
We left the store with a dozen mallard floaters that had been in the bargain bin for at least three years. The paint was chipping, and the size of the mallard drakes equaled those of a green-winged teal. He didn’t decoy a duck that year. Not a single one.
There’s a reason modern-day duck fakes look the way they do as my friend had learned. It started with better carving that created intense feather-realism and body detail. Then came the game-changing head flocking. This was done to add deception and reduce bird-flaring shine. Today, fakes from top brands like Avian-X, Dakota Decoy Company, Dive Bomb Industries, Lifetime Decoys and other provide second-to-none realism waterfowlers can count on. Remember, decoys that look like the real thing earn attention from the real thing.
Besides having realistic floater and field decoys, few things will add to your success the way motion decoys can. Motion decoys serve a variety of purposes. First, and probably most important, the motion created by spinning-wing fakes or shaking-body decoys attracts ducks and geese from a long distance. The flash created by a spinning wing works like a long-range beacon. Sadly, killing more ducks isn’t as simple as just adding motion decoys to your spread. They aren’t a magic wand. Heed these tips to get the most out of your waving and wobbling tricksters.
There was a time when I left the wings moving on my MOJO Outdoors spinning-wing decoys for the entirety of the hunt. The spinning wings did their job at attracting distant ducks and didn’t seem to make too much difference during the finishing process. Then, a few years back, things started to change. I noticed I was finishing fewer ducks with the wings spinning. Not good. That’s why I went to MOJO’s Bluetooth remote control USB receiver.
With the Bluetooth-enabled wireless upgrade, I can now start and stop the spinning wings with my smartphone. When ducks are off in the distance, the wings stay on. As they close the distance, the spinners go off. Simple. With the wings off, I rely on the quality of other decoys in my spread along with a few MOJO Ripplers, paired with some decoys on a jerk cord to finish ducks.
The battery-operated Rippler vibrates the entire decoy’s body and sends small waves throughout the spread. A jerk cord allows you the ability to create when-you-want-it movement by tugging the cord with your hand. The MOJO Jerk Cord comes with 60 feet of tar-treated cord that accepts up to five decoys. With this system, you create movement when you want it. You can also control the intensity of that movement, by pulling harder or softer.
Motion Decoys in Action
Early in the season, I tend to set my spinners right in the landing hole. I adjust poles so the MOJO’s are hovering about a foot over the water and shut the wings down as ducks start working the decoys. Later in the season, don’t be afraid to get creative and set the spinners on the fringe of your spread and use them only as attractors. Don’t set too many floaters or shakers around these outlying spinners. If you’re hunting a slough or shallow pond that contains standing vegetation like cattails, you can hide the spinners in this standing foliage to further break up their outlines.
I rarely shutoff my Ripplers completely. They offer very natural movement. Some of the best advice I can give any duck hunter is to watch live ducks on water. They move around a lot. Dabblers dabble and divers dive, and, of course, they all swim. The Rippler creates this natural swimming-like movement that boots confidence and adds extreme realism. I tend to place my Ripplers around groups of static decoys throughout the spread to give the appearance of more swimming ducks.
When it comes to jerk decoys, I like to position these imposters upwind in the spread. Ducks will usually want to land into the prevailing wind, so this upwind position means they have to continue cruising over the jerk decoys as they circle, allowing me the ability to grab their attention with some small movements.
Don’t get crazy with the yanks on the jerk cord. My waterfowling tenure has taught me ducks don’t love jerky, erratic motion. Stay subtle and smooth. It doesn’t take much. I’ve hunted ducks in some great locales that offered sketchy hides. Motion-activated decoys have a secondary benefit to help take the eyes of wary ducks away from you.
Yes, spinning-wing motion decoys with remote capabilities will cost you a little extra coin, but control is everything. When a flock of ducks passes by to circle downwind, hit the spinners a few times. Ducks have incredible vision and will often catch this subtle movement, and it may be just enough to get them to swing and drop the landing gear. For this reason, I like to position at least one of my spinning MOJO outliers toward the downwind side of my spread. This location puts it closer to where the ducks will circle to land into the wind.
Again, motion decoys aren’t Harry Potter’s wand. They are a tool, and like all tools, serve a purpose. Play with your motion decoys. Learn what works in your area and what doesn’t. Learn how different species of ducks respond to them throughout the season. For example, my son and I had an awesome early season teal shoot this past September. I had three MOJO spinners running and never shut them off. The birds loved them. With that noted, I got lazy and tried the same technique on river hunt for mallards and had to start shutting the wings down. Enjoy the process and remember, there is magic in the motion.