Years ago, when I first heard about using confidence decoys to help attract ducks and geese, the idea seemed to make a lot of sense. I mean, why wouldn't it be advantageous for a waterfowler to enhance traditional spreads of duck blocks, goose silhouettes and the like with a smattering of something less "ducky" and "goosey?" Anything, I thought, to provide more natural deception, would legally tip the hunting scales more in my favor.
So I did it. I got some confidence dekes. I bought a big old fake blue heron, a dozen plastic coots, three composite cormorants and a few real-looking crows. I passed on a swan decoy. I've never seen a tundra swan in Southwest Georgia. However, I have seen a number of Southwest Georgia hunters who would dearly love to bag a giant white "goose" floating on a backwater slough. The possible consequences, for both decoy and me, weren't exactly to my liking.
I employed my confidence decoys for one season before giving them up. That isn't to say, mind you, that they didn't work. On the contrary: They performed magnificently.
Each variety reliably attracted the species it was designed to imitate. As a result, the waterfowl that showed up to check out my mallard, ringneck and canvasback blocks were put more at ease, willingly and uh, "confidently" pitching in with no thought of my intrusive presence.
Alas, though, there were negatives.
My blue heron, for instance, was set upon by a real great blue that resented the faux bird's intrusion into its fishing and frogging hole. The ensuing ruckus drew a bevy of other animated herons, resulting in a veritable shorebird melee. Never one to resist witnessing a gang fight, I paid no attention to incoming ducks while my expensive decoy was rent into a million unsalvageable pieces.
The coot dekes caused no uproar. Coots are peaceful little critters. Trouble is, they are peaceful little critters that look a lot like stumps in the morning fog. Or, should I say stumps look a lot like floating coots? Whichever, the resemblance never occurred to me until I motored through my coot set in the wee hours and hit one. (A stump. Not a coot.)
The subsequent law-of-inertia demonstration would have made Isaac Newton proud.
My cormorants, including a really cool one with motorized wings, brought in more cormorants. They, in turn, consumed every bluegill and bullhead in the pond, which earned me a vociferous cussing from an irate landowner and the loss of my hunting privileges.
And the crows? Ah, the crows! They showed up in droves. Remember those Southwest Georgia hunters I mentioned? They like nothing better than a good crow shoot.
Ouch! Shoulda just bought the swan.
There's a bright side, though. Despite the preceding less-than-pleasant experiences, seems I was fortunate enough to quit while ahead. I was surfing the Internet recently and came across the confidence decoy to end all confidence decoys. For $79.95, I could have had a life-size fake cow! Perfect confidence deke for a goose field, they say. Thanks be to an ever-kind providence for my missing that one.
Can you say "bull," boys and girls?