In Russia, spring hunting with a decoy duck is extremely popular and loved for its beauty, generosity for prey, and excitement. Nature wakes up after winter, birds in abundance return to their native northern lands for summer, and flood meadows and river floodplains become a paradise for drake hunters for ten days.
Hunting with a decoy duck became an independent type of hunting in the nineteenth century, when quick-witted peasants realized that during wild floods wild drakes gladly respond to the cry of domesticated mallards and become easy prey of a hidden hunter.
Peasants began to cross the most vociferous ducks, trying to get offspring even more noisy and adapted for decoy. And it more than paid off, because a good decoy guaranteed success and not only provided the hunter with fresh meat, but also helped to stock up for himself and for sale. So gradually the famous breeds of decoy ducks appeared: Voronezh, Tula, Saratov and others.
In the twentieth century, hunting with decoys from a commercial turned into amateur and sports, having won the hearts of thousands of hunters of the Soviet Union. However, in the sixties, she was banned, it lasted more than twenty years. During this time, several decoy breeds irretrievably disappeared. But today, hunting farms and hunters themselves again breed and prepare thoroughbred birds that work perfectly, steadily attracting drakes with loud voices.
The rules of spring duck hunting
Russia is such a huge country that spring comes in different regions at different times, so the opening of goose and drake hunting is scheduled for different dates. The hunt lasts ten days, and its rules are approximately the same for all areas.
You can hunt exclusively on drakes from shelters and only using decoys or stuffed animals. You can’t use electronic decoys, you can’t use boats to search for and pursue game, you can only swim behind the already drained drakes. It is forbidden to shoot at flying birds, because there is a great risk of getting into a female.
Advantages of hunting with decoy
Fascination. Hunting takes a long time before the start, poses a lot of interesting tasks for the hunter, for the solution of which you need to show a lot of skills: to be able to work with a decoy and arrange a hut, skillfully disguise yourself and patiently wait for the perfect moment for a shot, understand the behavior of birds and predict places for a successful hunt.
Efficiency. With a good job, a decoy and a well-chosen place, the probability of rich trophies is high. In addition, the drakes sit very close to the shelter, so it’s easier to get into them: you do not need expensive optical sights and long-range cartridges.
Gambling. The hunter is constantly in a pleasant tension, anticipating prey. He works in tandem with the decoy, monitors her condition, listens to the world around him.
Beauty. A hunter hiding in a hut contemplates a spring morning or evening nature, which has special strength and freshness after long winter months.
Hunting with a decoy duck is conditionally divided into three stages:
- Preparation of equipment, ducks and stuffed animals.
- Search for places to build a shelter (hut).
- The hunt itself.
The amount of packed game and the pleasure of hunting directly depends on each stage, so they deserve a more detailed description.
When preparing, you need to remember that spring is a time with unstable weather, rains, winds and temperature extremes, and when hunting you will have to sit still for a long time in a hut and go into cold water, so first of all you need to take care of warm clothes and reliable marsh boots. In addition to clothing, the hunter takes with him:
- shotgun - for hunting drakes use smooth-bore weapons, small-caliber shots (No. 3,4,5) are considered the most suitable;
- cage (box) for ducks;
- camouflage gown;
- stuffed animals;
- decoy on a duck;
- lantern - useful for searching for damaged game or decoy in twilight and darkness;
- Seat - helps to get comfortable in a hut;
- portable hut, some hunters prefer them.
The hunter must carefully choose the place where the hut for hunting with a decoy will be installed. In the spring, a variety of migratory birds like to sit down to rest and feed on flooded meadows, hummock swamps, river channels, shallow reaches and lakes with muddy shores overgrown with sedge.
It is desirable that there are no cattails, dense bushes and snags in which the decoy can get tangled in the selected reservoir, but bumps suitable for resting birds are welcome. A good flying place becomes an important condition for a successful hunt. Therefore, if a beginner does not have enough knowledge and experience, it is better to ask for help in finding a place for shelter from the huntsman or a more sophisticated colleague.
The quality of the hut determines how comfortable and successful hunting with a decoy is. Choosing a place for him is only the first step, the second is a competent device. Of course, the shelter should be roomy for equipment and convenient enough for the hunter, because he will have to spend several hours here.
But nevertheless, the rules of spring duck hunting insist that the main task of the hut is to hide a person from a wild and very careful bird. The hiding place should merge with the surrounding landscape and be opaque, because the drake perceives any unfamiliar movement as dangerous and immediately flies away. Therefore, the shelter is scrupulously masked with spruce branches, dry grass, reeds, focusing on the colors of the surrounding vegetation.
Some hunters use folding camouflage huts that are easy to carry and quick to install. You can also choose as a shelter dry depressions covered with camouflage fabric or improvised plant material. The hut is installed a few days before the hunt on the edge of the pond, but sometimes you need to take into account the rise of melt water, so that the shelter will flood during the hunt. In addition to the main loophole, in skradka you can make additional ones, they will improve visibility.
Screaming domesticated mallards are called upon to lure drakes and are the main highlight of this hunt. A well-working decoy duck, the price of which can reach several thousand rubles, can turn hunting into a holiday. Undoubtedly, a lot depends on the skill of the hunter, weather and a well-chosen place for shelter, but the role of decoy in success can hardly be overestimated.
Ducks are carried in wicker cages or crates with mandatory breathing holes. Birds should be prepared for the hunt: do not be afraid of a new reservoir, be manual, do not be afraid of the sound of a shot, and most importantly - skillfully call a drake, because all hunting with a decoy duck depends on it.
Although the voice is passed down to the duck by inheritance, it still needs to be prepared for the hunt. First, the bird is accustomed to the nails - leather rings on its paws, for which it is tied so that it does not float away from the hut. Before spring, the duck is transported to water bodies so that it can quickly adapt to the new terrain and immediately begin to work on hunting. A couple of days before the hunt, it is better to isolate the decoy from the drake, its instincts will sharpen, and it will be better to call wild migratory birds.
A duck is planted in a pond that has been watched for hunting about twenty meters from the shelter. The bird is tied to a peg stuck in the bottom. So that the decoy can calmly swim around and not get confused, use a spinning swivel. If there are no bumps nearby, then the peg is complemented by a wooden board on which the duck is climbed for relaxation. A good and more productive hunt with two decoys. They talk to each other with pleasure, and if one gets tired and falls silent, the other, as a rule, continues to call on game.
Many hunters do not have the opportunity or do not want to spend time on the maintenance and preparation of decoys, planting birds on water and taking care of them, so spring duck hunting with stuffed animals is better for them. Fortunately, today the selection of all kinds of stuffed animals and decoys is very large, and their prices range from several hundred rubles apiece to several thousand for a whole flock and depend on the manufacturer and material.
Rubber stuffed ducks for hunting are the most popular. They crumple easily and take up little space during transportation, but it is important to pay attention to their color so that it does not shine in the sun, scaring away birds. Plastic stuffed animals perfectly imitate all sorts of duck breeds, but are bulky, in addition too sensitive to wind and waves, so hunters are forced to additionally weight them. The least popular is duck hunting with decoying scarecrows made of wood or polyurethane foam.
When hunting with scarecrows, the hunter lures the game himself, using decoys on the duck. Decoys are divided into two groups: wind (mechanical) decoys and electronic. The cost and characteristics of wind decoys depend on the manufacturer and the material from which they are made. The most expensive ones are acrylic, further down the price gradation are: wooden, steel, polycarbonate.
The high cost of acrylic decoys is justified. Firstly, they have excellent sound, which like game. Secondly, due to the properties of the material, such decoys are practically invulnerable to moisture and temperature extremes, therefore they last a long time, and their sound is not distorted. This is not the case with steel and wood decoys, which require more thorough care. Polycarbonate is the most economical and short-lived option. The decoys are stored in special cases / boxes that protect them from moisture, clogging and shock.
In order to plausibly portray the duck's invocation, it requires hearing, dexterity and knowledge of the voices of birds. With due zeal and practice, a hunter is able to call a drake no worse than a decoy, but the result of hunting in this case will not depend on the mood of the bird or the weather.
An alternative to mechanical decoys is their electronic counterparts, who are ready to lure game loudly and tirelessly, but among hunters their use is considered a bad manners, in addition, electronic devices differ in fair value. When buying decoys, you need to carefully monitor that they mimic the birds that live in the area, the call of overseas relatives leaves the Russian drakes indifferent.
Scarecrows are planted by species: diving (blacks, gogol, diving) away from the hut in deeper places, and pintails, sheaves, mallards closer. Not very tight, at a distance of about a meter and a half from each other, so that they would not cause fear in flying game. Scarecrows should look like a flock calmly feeding and not worried.
The more artificial birds are planted, the higher the likelihood of game bait. Moreover, stuffed animals can lure a variety of waterfowl. The optimal number of lures has not been determined, some hunters believe that ten to fifteen stuffed animals are enough, others call the number twenty and more. For better stability, the stuffed animals are connected to each other by a reliable wire with a load. It is advisable to arrange the flocks so that they do not fall on the line of fire and are not damaged by a shot.
The best time for hunting is evening and especially morning dawns, when the bird is most active. Therefore, decoys are planted well in advance, so that with the onset of dawn, it will already work. At night and at sunrise the flight of drakes comes to naught
The activity of migratory game is affected by the weather. It is best to hunt on clear days without wind. In cloudy, windy and rainy weather, drakes are less active, and decoys attract them very sluggishly.
Spring duck hunting with stuffed animals goes well with the use of decoy ducks. The effect is amplified: decoys attract game with "precipitation" - shouts, and flocks of stuffed animals convince wild birds that the pond is safe and rich in food.
You can use the mallard decoy so that the decoy can begin to call the game faster.
The decoy duck is a key participant in the hunt, so you cannot shoot game if it is next to the decoy. It is better to miss one drake than to lose a solid duck, which can attract many wild birds.
During the hunt, it is not necessary to leave the shelter for trophies, they can be collected afterwards, and for now left in the water, dead birds do not cause fear in the drake.
In darkness or twilight it is difficult to distinguish between a male and a female, so if in doubt, it is better to refrain from firing, no matter how strong the excitement.