A pile of dad's old decoys still sit in the corner of my den. Among them are some classic all-cork Herter's mallards and a few Carry-Lite black ducks. Their role is primarily decorative, but once a season I dig them out, rig them with Tanglefree line (admittedly an odd pairing with vintage decoys), and shoot ducks over dad's blocks. It's great fun, but it's also a reminder of how far production waterfowl decoys have come.
When the old man bought his first decoys, they were essentially the best a working man could afford. And yet, compared to the decoys of today, they appear rather cartoonish. These days there's no excuse for hunting over unrealistic decoys. The trends are two-fold: Flocked and extremely detailed at the upper price points, and smaller, affordable blocks that achieve a great deal of realism in their own right. I can't help but wonder what my father would've thought if he encountered any of the fine fakes featured here.
Avian-X Topflight Black Duck
If you've spent any length of time in the Atlantic Flyway, you've no doubt developed a soft spot for the iconic black duck. Now your chances of scoring one are better than ever with the introduction of Fred Zink's black duck decoys
. These slightly oversized (14.5 inches nose to tail), fully-flocked dekes are among the best production blocks we've seen for this species.
Banded Floating Green-wing Teal
Some decoys look like floating footballs, but Banded's Green-wings
rest like ducks thanks to a forward-weighted keel. Pay special attention to the intricate feather and paint schemes, as well as the life-like 12½x 5½ dimensions. Sold in six-packs (alert drake, feeding drake, resting drake, resting hen, and two swimming hens).
Big Foot B2 Floating Mallards
It seems most dekes are either durable or realistic — with little room in between. Big Foot
defies this convention, and its new B2 Mallards are a great example. They're realistic down to the last fake feather, and really hold their paint. Each six-pack (four drakes, two hens) comes with six different body postures. Expect durability.
Dakota Decoy X-Treme Mallards
flagship greenheads, the X-Treme Mallards, are available painted or fully-flocked. The outstanding hand-painted color scheme is achieved through a lengthy process (24 steps for the drake, and 16 for the hen). Decoys are constructed of durable polyethylene, and available by the dozen in an array of movable head positions.
Deadly Decoys Mallard Flyer
Windsock decoys are a great way to assemble a large, cost-effective, motion-heavy spread — but boy do they look bad if there's no wind. Not so with Deadly Decoys
Flyer. They feature a patented 'backbone support system, ' keeping the socks inflated even on still days. Available in 12-packs, you can fit several dozen inside one carry bag.
Drake Waterfowl Breeze-Ryder
These keel-free Drake Waterfowl
decoys are built for motion even in light winds, and special cleats on the bottom allow for wrapping decoy line. The cleats are also equipped with depth adjusters, so you can unravel the right amount of line. Special anchor points allow you to rig the decoy from front or back. Available in mallards, blacks, pintails, and teal.
FA Gunners HD Field Mallards
A new motion system incorporated into FA's
redesigned HD Field Mallards gives a more natural look to the spread. The decoys' paint scheme offers premium visibility, and their texture and feather detail are impressive.
Flambeau Storm Front Full-Body Mallard
There aren't too many field decoys that afford this level of control. Flambeau's
Full-Bodies rest atop lockable bases — unlock for wind-powered motion, or lock to remove it. The mallards were carved by world champ Tom Christie, and feature Flambeau's innovative UVision paint to match the light reflectance of real feathers.
GHG Pro-Grade Pintails
The guys at Greenhead Gear
say they've never had more requests than those that poured in for the Pro-Grade Pintail. Carver Larry Fell produced remarkable detail, and the postures of the surface feeders are particularly life-like. Available in six-packs: two relaxed drakes, one high-head drake, one surface-feeder drake, one content hen and one surface-feeder hen.
Hard Core Mag Mallards
Two world champion carvers and a world champion taxidermist partnered on this Hard Core Mallards
project, creating a highly realistic, textured decoy. The decoys are available in a convenient Texas rig (36-inch string, 4-ounce dropper) or standard six-packs and covered in 'Armor Coated Paint, ' guaranteed to last three seasons.
Price: $75 (pre-rigged)
Lucky Duck Lucky Junior
Greenheads can't resist the action the Lucky Duck Lucky Junior
motion decoy provides. Just place the wing assembly onto the base and a magnetic switch automatically starts the high rpm motor. Available in mallard (hen/drake), bluebill (hen/drake) and pintail (drake), the mechanics are waterproof. A wing assembly kit for a Canada goose is also available.
$115 | www.realduck.comA a full-size, lightweight, motorized spinning-wing mallard, the Lucky Junior's wings attach magnetically for an ultra-fast setup. The 42-inch adjustable stake is included, and the decoy is remote-ready (sold separately). Four AA batteries keep the aerodynamic wings spinning for more than 14 hours.
MOJO Screamin' Woody
It's our experience motion decoys are particularly effective in the early season, which may be why MOJO
has seen such demand for a wood duck. Its new Screamin' Woody looks great and runs up to 16 hours on four AA batteries. Just looking at it makes us long for October.
Quack Rubber Forever Wood Duck
'don't break, ' given their all-rubber construction. These blocks feature: 360-degree movable heads, self-righting, brass weighted, Line-Lock quick-adjust keels and durable paint and rubber construction. Sold individually.
Real Duck Action Decoys
Greenheads can't resist the action this Real Duck
action decoy provides. Just place the wing assembly onto the base and a magnetic switch automatically starts the high rpm motor. Available in mallard (hen/drake), bluebill (hen/drake) and pintail (drake), the mechanics are waterproof. A wing assembly kit for a Canada goose is also available.
Real-Geese Pro Series II Mallards
Silhouettes are light, packable, and they work. Real-Geese
makes some of the best, featuring non-reflective surfaces and original artwork. The Pro Series II line is 20 percent larger than Real-Geese's original mallards for added visibility. A dozen weigh only six pounds.
Waterfowl Junkie Spinner Stand
Regardless of how badly you want to set up a spinning-wing decoy, sometimes staking it into the frozen ground just isn't an option. Instead of forgoing a key piece of the spread, this Waterfowl Junkie
stake-less Spinner Stand stays upright in 40 mph winds and includes a 54-inch telescopic post that fits most spinners.