Do Ducks Decoy Better to Goose Decoys?

My preferred river setup for as long as I can remember has been to arrange as many magnum mallards as I can into an old school J-rig, with about a dozen goose decoys upwind of the ducks. Like many river hunters, my focus is on ducks, but I also hope to kill a bonus goose or two when the opportunity arises. However, according to Field Hudnall, an Avery pro staffer and the founder of Field Proven Calls, I've been going about this whole duck hunting thing all wrong.

"The majority of my spread is always Canada geese, even if I'm hunting ducks," Hudnall said. "We used to use all duck decoys, but once we started seeing more geese on our portion of the Ohio River, we increased our goose decoys. Eventually we were running a 50/50 spread of ducks and geese, and we did so well on geese we started setting up specifically for them. The weird thing was that we started killing more ducks as well."

Hudnall believes that river ducks will actually decoy better to goose decoys than duck decoys. One of the keys to hunting ducks on open water is a big, visible spread. Hudnall points to the size and contrast of goose floaters as reasons why they work so well on ducks.

"I think it's the white on black that makes them show up so well," he said. "My typical river spread, even when only ducks are in season, consists of 90 to 120 goose floaters—as many as we can conjure up—and maybe a dozen ducks arranged in little pods mixed in."

Hudnall uses Greenhead Gear Canada goose floaters, which he says are highly visible due to their size and the contrast achieved by their flocked heads.

"A lot of guys use almost all duck decoys with maybe a half dozen geese off to the side," Hudnall added. "They think they'll kill ducks and maybe have a chance at a few geese if they see any, but really they don't have much of a chance at geese. Ducks like geese, but geese hate ducks, so a big mallard spread offers geese no incentive to come. I'm no biologist, so I don't know why that is, but it's an observation we've made, and a goose spread works."

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