By Lynn Burkhead
Most years, success on January ducks can be quite challenging here in North Texas.
Especially if hunters toss the same old tired spread at late season quackers — the same size, the same species and the same toy soldier like body posture and head positions.
Do so and the local wise guy ducks probably will be able to tell you the brand of decoy you’re using and how much they cost per dozen.
In other words, by the middle of January, you’ve got to do more than simply toss a few dozen mallard blocks out onto the water.
One thing you can do is to add in a few different species to the spread.
My late season rigs will always contain a few high visibility pintail drakes and some colorful green-winged teal decoys. Or maybe even a few wigeon or gadwall blocks. And perhaps even a couple of Canada goose or snow goose decoys set on the edge of the spread.
Late season also demands motion, something I think can be realistically achieved by using full body duck decoys on motion stakes.
My late friend J.J. Kent often used up to two or three dozen full body duck decoys along with his standard floating rig and the results could be spectacular.
On dead calm blue-bird days, getting ripples on the water is vitally important.
To do so, you can use a low-cost decoy jerk rig; a couple of Quiver Magnets that float and wobble in the decoy spread; or something even more high-tech like Eddie McDonough Sr.’s The Real Decoy natural swimmer model.
What about spinning wing decoys like those made by Mojo?
Over the years, I’ve seen first hand how deadly these decoys can be. Most serious duck hunters I know hunt with at least one or more of these spinning wing gadgets.
But as use of such decoys has increased over much of the country, I think ducks are becoming wiser to the decoys that have wings always spinning about.
A better option — in my opinion, at least — is Mojo’s Gadwall Motion Decoy, one that can be operated with a 1 1/2 second on/off timer.
This is more realistic in my opinion and provides the stop-and-go wing motion of a duck settling down onto the water or stretching its wings out just a bit.
A final trick to luring a flock of January redlegs into your spread is to avoid “lining” the ducks when they fly over a decoy spread. Because when they do, they’ll often see any dark decoy lines below, all as they climb for the stratosphere.
How can you avoid that? By using clear 400-lb. test mono-filament anchoring rigs (dubbed Texas-rigs), either the home-made kind or those offered by companies like Mojo or Cabela’s.
Put a little extra thought into your decoy rig over the next couple of weeks and the reward could be a late season limit of redlegs hanging from the duck strap.