by Naomi K. Shapiro
There are some simple, yet very effective, ways to carry all of those duck decoys you'll need when hunting. Where you are hunting and type and size of your decoys will help determine the best method to use to transport them.
What most duck hunters do is use some type of "case" which is carried. By "case," we're not talking about some heavy duty piece of luggage. On the market are many different types of mesh carrying bags -- different styles -- different sizes -- different manufacturers. These mesh bags have elastic tie-down straps which can be tightened to the right torque for carrying, depending on how many decoys you've got. Most of these mesh bags have two backpack type straps which means a hunter can put them on his/her back, and keep hands free for carrying other equipment, like a shotgun. And, depending on the size of the decoys and the bag, you can fit anywhere from six to maybe 20 decoys in a bag.
The nice thing about decoy bags is that you can separate specific decoys for specific species -- mallards, wood ducks, bluebills -- whatever. So it's easy to organize things. You can also determine which bag will hold solid decoys, roll ups, magnums, or regular size. And, don't kid yourself -- all of this "organization" makes things a lot easier --before and after the hunt. Beforehand, you're anxious, you're in a hurry to get set up and hunt -- you don't want to play around. Having specific decoys and/or sizes in distinct and separated bags will help you get the decoys set up far more quickly and easily. No searching. No muttering to yourself, and no glares from others in your party. And then when you're done hunting, you're tired, you're cold, you're hungry -- and you want to get out of there as soon as possible. So you pick up your decoys and again organize them so you're all set for the next hunt, without a lot of sorting and all of that wasted-time-and-effort stuff. The mesh bags allow the water to drain; and just make sure, when you retrieve your decoys, that you at least clean off of any sludge or algae and other plant residue before putting them in the bag.
The decoy mesh bags are not real expensive -- indeed, there are manufacturers and retailers who will often provide a "free" mesh bag when you purchase a decoy -- but they may not be exactly what you need. Just remember: "Free is good," but you'll still want to have enough bags to insure that you're well organized and that the decoys will "fit" properly.
Now here's a real good money saving tip from guide Phil Schweik, for those of us who prefer to save EVERY dime we can! Phil's super-talented wife, Rhonda (one of the greatest hunters and anglers we've ever known) simply takes a burlap bag, affixes some straps, and sews it to proper dimensions and accessibility. Phil says they work beautifully, and are both strong and light. Cost? A trip to a local grocer or farmers market for some FREE potato burlap bags, and a few shekels for strapping materials. Happy hunting and decoy "schlepping."