I have tried them all, but honestly, I have had great hunts when I just tossed a dozen total out...and I have had success when I have used a "pattern" of 2-4 dozen.
The interesting thing to me is that if you go to any santuary (ie: The Sac NWF auto tour) you will see hundreds of birds just sitting everywhich way...no pattern, not any one species all by itself, not just in the water (last weekend the majority of the birds were sitting on the islands - not in the water at mid day as I drove the route Sunday)...
So, you can certainly experiment with various patterns, but for me, I like to just set them out until it just feels "right" (which is usually putting mallard decoys in 2's and 4's nearer the tulles...and then widgeon and pintails out in the more open water. I mix in a few teal and gadwall and then hunt.
Good Luck...I am sure there are as many opinions on this as there are hunters......I just try not to make it "rocket science" ;-)
I'm with Duckfan,toss 'em out move 'em around a little till it feels good ,sit in the blind thinking man this is going to be a great shoot,ducks in the dekes,then the idiot next to you opens up 5 min before shooting time.Aw well so much for the good feeling.Never have seen ducks hang out in any paticular pattern.Just remember to leave some room for them to land.
lick your finger and stick it in the air to check the wind and start tossin.
Just make sure your tossin the right way.
Just got the weighted keel G&Hs this season and it's nice to stand at the blind and just start throwin.
Steve. you arnt implying that the clowns that were in blind 6 opening day a Delevan shot early are you ?
Hey they had to do it before the 25000 birds that we were watching all flew off. Those birds knew it was almost shoot time.
I spend as much time possible watching birds, geese in the fields and ducks on the water and here are a few things that I've noticed.
Snow geese no matter how many are in the field will usually bunch up in little family groups of 5-10 birds, when we hunt the fields we'll place 4 shells in century position in a circle so to speak and then place 6 or so Texas rags inside of the circle of shells.
As far as ducks, in our hunting group we have about 6-7 doz G&H super mags, Mallard, Pintails and Cans and a truckload of standards, depending on the time of year and how the birds react we make adjustments when needed. If the birds are decoy shy we sometimes move them way out of gun range to get the birds to fly between the blind and the dekes. The wind however can change everything, I don't like shooting birds with my back to the wind, I try to position the dekes so that the birds are passing over and your shots will be into the wind. I've seen so many birds get lost shooting down wind.
Next time we need to talk about flags and stomping the water to attrack birds, more to come!
Kid, you don't like the wind at your back? I'm not sure if I agree with you there. Of course, wind will always depend on where the blind position is. I'll always try to have the wind coming from behind me or at the very least a cross wind. As far as decoy placement, I definately agree wit you about SOMETIMES putting the decoys far out, especially if setting up in a cove or small pothole. It makes the birds land outside, right where you will be. I will also agree that birds will group randomly when sitting on the water. I always have a dozen teal dekes grouped in a small group off of whatever main group I have. Usually, I'll put two groups of dekes out one on each side of the blind with the teal inside one of the two groups. Wind does play a part when deciding how to setup in the morning.
The reason I don't like the wind at my back is if you cripple a bird the wind will quickly take him out of range and often results in a lost bird. I prefer to shoot them going over that way if a bird is crippled you have a better chance of finishing them off. We are talking wind right, 20 plus mph and white caps on the water is what I think of when I think of wind. Every situation is different but the object is clean kills, no cripples and 0 lost birds. A perfcet situation to me is a strong wind over big water and finding a small pocket of glass that their dying to get into. All wind is good but a light wind especially with snows can cause problems.
I understand, especially when you are hunting without a dog (like I often do) a high wind is a problem retrieving cripples. I would only want to setup with the wind in my face when it is a high velocity wind and I can get out into a hole with water surrounding me. One thing I do believe is that ducks and geese do not like to fly low over land. Each situation is different, the most important thing to look for is flying patterns of the ducks/geese in the area you hunt.