Gone With The Wind

By Jace Bauserman

ducks flying in the air

The best hunters change decoying tactics throughout the season. Some shifts are due to hunting pressure, while others are needed to close the deal on a particular species. You might stick a pair of spinning wing decoys in the middle of the spread when hunting early season teal, but place those same dekes toward the back later in the season for mallards. A decoy spread might be massive and tight when hunting lesser Canada geese, but smaller and more spaced when hunting giant Canadas later in the season.

But regardless of the tactic or situation, one concept gets a workout from the start of the season until the bitter end—and with any waterfowl that flies: using wind direction. Ducks and geese use wind to their advantage and will always land into it. For this reason, wind direction should dictate how you set up.

Shooting The Breeze

Not only should you be a student of your favorite weather app, but you should also carry a bottle of wind checker with you at all times—before setting your blinds or decoys, use it to determine the exact wind direction.

Once you've determined wind direction, you can start setting your decoys and position layout blinds. In most situations, especially when hunting fields, most decoys should be set facing into the wind. Decoy direction is a tad harder when hunting lakes and ponds, and flowing water will always turn your fakes into the current. For this reason, decoy direction, when hunting water, is less critical. How you position yourself, however, matters greatly.

You can use decoys and debris like corn stubble to disguise your blind when field hunting. If you set your blind and the wind isn't hitting you straight in the back, you did something wrong. If you take extra time to get your blind set just right, approaching birds will be in your face when they drop the landing gear and commit to the decoys. If the wind is blowing at speeds greater than 10 mph, birds seem to float in one spot for a good grip of time, which boosts your odds of killing multiple birds out of a single flock.

Change Directions

Pay close attention to any changes in wind direction during the hunt. If wind direction changes even slightly, take the time to reposition your decoys and your blind. If you don't, you will still kill some birds, but you'll be shooting at awkward angles, and instead of dropping doubles and triples, you'll be killing singles. Worse yet, your odds of crippling birds go up because the birds are using the wind and getting out of range before you can take multiple shots. Yes, moving your blind and decoys once a hunt has started takes a bit of time and isn't fun, and you may flare a few groups when you're making a change. However, groups that follow will be right in your face.

hunter laying down duck decoys

I've hunted with many different people for ducks and geese all over the U.S., and those who are ultra-finicky about wind direction kill the most birds. That's a fact. Some will say that wind speeds under 10 miles per hour shouldn't be worthy of consideration. False. If the wind is anything but calm, ducks and geese will use it when working a decoy spread.