Don’t Forget the Silhouettes!

Bob SandersI like to get away from the crowds. In my opinion there is nothing more frustrating than working a group of birds, getting them to the point of committing to your spread and then having another hunter touch off a shot and “your” birds flare and take off. We’ve all been there!

For me, the answer is to put on an extra mile of walking or floating and leave the crowds behind. In order to do this and still have a decent-sized decoy spread I need to travel light. Nothing fits the bill better for this than silhouette decoys. Silhouettes are highly realistic, come in multiple body positions and, best of all, they are lightweight and you can pack quite a few into remote areas. There are lots of good commercial varieties out there that will do the trick, but they also can be a little tough on the wallet. I like to make my own gear, so silhouettes are a great way to test my (very limited) artistic skills while getting that same special satisfaction you feel when you reload your own shells, fletch your own arrows and build your own blinds. On top of all that, they are inexpensive to make.

BSsilhouetteI make my “flatties” out of corrugated plastic board – the kind that sign makers use. I can get a 4×8-foot sheet for about $14, which typically makes about two dozen decoys. I take several profile photos of ducks in different body positions (standing, feeding, loafing) enlarge them with a photocopier to make a life-size template, lay the template out on the board then cut out the silhouettes with a sharp knife. I use basic flat spray paint colors available at most hardware stores and pretty simple color schemes to paint the birds. For stakes, I use uncoated welding rods, also lightweight and durable. I place the rod in the chuck of an electric drill and “drill” it right through the plastic from top to bottom, 90 degrees to the corrugation. A completed decoy costs me about $1, so you really can build a decent spread on a tight budget.

Best of all, I can pack about four dozen decoys with plenty of room left in my pack for shells, lunch, extra clothes and a limit of birds. Try that with four dozen floaters! Give silhouette decoys a try this fall.

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