By Richard Hines
The first decoys I started with were three wooden decoys I picked up along Pond Creek bottoms in Western Kentucky. It was close to my home and a favorite location for some of us younger boys to go duck hunting.
The three decoys were tied together and had obviously washed in from someone’s duck blind upstream during a flood. We knocked the mud off as best as we could and set them around in the shallow water. That evening I took the old decoys home, cleaned them, and re-painted the heads with some left-over green model car paint. When I look back, those decoys were probably a ringneck pattern, not quite a match for the green head.
Over the rest of that season we shot a few ducks and as we might have guessed, we saw lots of ducks flying over. No doubt flaring from the paint job and those bright green heads. Somewhere during my high school years, those old decoys disappeared or were forgotten as new and better decoys came on the market. What we were using back in the 1970s in no way compares to what is available today. Although, I wish I still had those three old wood decoys to sit on the shelf!
Over the years I have hunted over decoys manufactured from paper mâché, Styrofoam and a wide range of plastics, but each year, decoys tend to get a little better. Many of my older decoys have found a permanent home in the corner of our barn and after using the Gunning Series, many more decoys will be left in the barn.
When comparing the Gunning Series Decoys to what we have on hand, it appears Flambeau Outdoors has hit a homerun with these new decoys.
So, what is the difference with these? After all, a decoy is a decoy, well think again. Think about what ducks see. Birds obtain more information through their eyes than any other organ and when comparing the ratio of the size of a duck’s head to the amount of area the eyes take up, it is several times higher than the ratio of humans. Waterfowl are transferring a tremendous amount of information to their brain via their eyesight. Now, you can see why it is not always easy to hide from the prying eye of a duck, much less hundreds of eyes in a flock of ducks!
Waterfowl can detect color, depth of field, brightness, and more importantly waterfowl are able to see much further into the ultraviolet range than humans. That is why the color signature within the ultraviolet range of decoys is more important than we ever imagined. I now know why ducks were flaring from those first decoys I had when I was a kid!
I talked to Flambeau Outdoors’ Marketing Specialist Dante Gramuglia, who described how they have solved this problem with the Gunning Series. Gramuglia said, “Flambeau’s Gunning Series uses UVision™ paint technology.” Add in some minute details by world championship decoy carver Tom Christie and you have the perfect decoy.
In addition to the paint, the Gunning Series has a new rounded bottom profile and along with a smaller size keel that allows decoys to move much easier with the wind. You will have much more lifelike movement in the decoy spread with this designed keel.
Since I waterfowl hunt in a wide range of habitat, I asked Gramuglia about shallow versus deep water. He said, “you can clip a Texas rig right onto the keel and it works in both deep and shallow water and because of the smaller keel profile, you can set this decoy in a few inches of water and still get good movement out of it, even on low wind days.” Gramuglia added, “They also work well long lining deeper water.”
Many decoys will tend to dive into waves, and they hit the decoy, not really “lifelike.” I have seen decoys spinning on wind or going over waves backwards, obviously not a natural response from ducks as they will ride the wave up and down and stay on course through rough water. This is another plus for this decoy.
If you hunt rivers or creeks, you know that the current tends to make decoys dive into the water which is not natural but the newly designed keel allows the decoy to ride on top, looking more natural.
When Flambeau Outdoors came out with the “Gunning Series,” they started with mallard decoys and have since come out with Canvasback and Bluebill decoys patterned in both hen and drake models mimicking several natural postures including preening, feeding, relaxed, and surface feeding.
Gramuglia said, “The plan is to keep expanding the series to include other species.” This is great news especially for waterfowl hunters who specialize in hunting selected species of waterfowl.
It looks like Flambeau has finally solved some problems by building a better decoy and it’s one worth checking out for the upcoming season!