Watching a flock of Canada geese maple-leaf down into a massive spread of decoys while a dozen gunners wait for the “Take ’em!” call is something every waterfowler should experience. But a lot of us don’t have the space or budget for a huge spread of full-bodies. And, it can be tough organizing the platoon of hunters required to set such a spread. Thanks to new decoy designs, a solo goose hunter now has a real opportunity to set a realistic goose spread of four or five dozen lightweight decoys that fits into the bed of a single pickup truck. Following are four types that will get the job done. Mix and match them to fit your needs, and leave the trailer at home.
1. White Rock Collapsible Full Bodies
White Rock full-body decoys at work in a Wisconsin pasture. Alex Robinson
This new decoy combines the lightweight, packable benefits of a windsock with the 3D realism of a full-body. The dekes are made of a rubberized foam, and they collapse and crunch down when it’s time to pack them up. To set them in the field, you simply pop the decoy back into form with your hands or blow air into it with the back vent to work out any creases. A dozen of these decoys, plus stakes, weighs less than 5 pounds.
Another high point of these dekes is that they move nicely in a light wind, adding realistic movement to your spread. In heavy winds, you can push a little rubber washer (one comes on each stake) into the decoy to keep it from spinning around like a top. In a pinch, you can even use these decoys in a shallow-water spread by staking them so the body sits just above the surface. White Rock sells longer stakes, or you can just use garden stakes and cut them to your desired length. On the downside, these decoys don’t pop back into form very easily in temps below 20 degrees, and they’re pricey. But you won’t find a better way to add numbers to your setup without adding much weight. ($140/6; whiterockdecoys.com)
2. Final Approach Shell Honkers
Final Approach Shell Honkers Final Approach
Shell decoys have come a long way in the last few years, and FA’s are as realistic as they get. These are hefty dekes. Each shell is 2 feet long, and the 12-pack (plus heads) weighs almost 30 pounds. The decoys have a nice high profile and will be very visible to geese. You can stack all 12 shells on top of each other, which makes them extremely packable. The tradeoff for that is you have to screw on the heads every time you set your spread, which can get pretty tedious on a cold, dark morning. But so goes the life of a goose hunter.
All the decoys have flocked heads and detailed paint jobs. ($312/12; fabrand.com)
3. GHG Pro-Grade 3D Silhouettes
GHG Pro-Grade 3D Silhouettes GHG
If you’ve dismissed silhouette decoys as cheap and unrealistic, you’ll want to give this new design by Greenhead Gear a look. These decoys are 3D—sort of. GHG basically took a standard, plastic-body decoy and squashed it flatter. So, you end up with a decoy that has a great side profile, a somewhat realistic look from directly above, and an extra-packable and portable design. Besides that, the dekes have nicely flocked heads and paint jobs that don’t produce sun glare—one of the classic downfalls of other silhouette-style decoys. A dozen or two dozen of these dekes are the perfect addition to a spread of shells, because they can be staked high to catch the attention of faraway flocks.
Typically, goose silhouettes run on the cheap side and don’t survive much wear and tear. That’s not the case with GHG’s new product. These are tough, sturdy decoys that will hang in there for seasons of hard use. ($250/12; greenheadgear.com)
4. Avian-X Honker Shell Sleepers
Avian-X Honker Shell Sleepers Avian-X
Sleeper shells are key to most good goose setups—especially when you’re hunting loafing areas like river sandbars or cattle pastures with ponds—because they indicate that the landing zone is safe and comfortable. Avian-X’s new flocked sleeper shells do a great job of rolling out the welcome mat.
These shells are in keeping with the company’s reputation for turning out ultra-realistic decoys. They sport an incredibly detailed paint job and, best of all, they stack easily, so they take up minimal space. ($160/6; avian-x.com)