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Dove Decoy Placement: Getting My Mojo Working

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September 19, 2012

Dove Decoy Placement: Getting My Mojo Working

By Phil Bourjaily

It has taken a while for Mojo decoys to spin their way into my affections. I have learned to put aside my dislike for motorized hunting gear and bring them with me, especially when the quarry is wood ducks, which rarely decoy well to conventional floating decoys, and for doves. The new Mojos by the way – the is the Voodoo Dove – have magnets to attach the wings to the bodies, a huge improvement over the old thumbscrews which were easy to drop underwater or into the weeds.

A dove spinner isn’t magic. Stick it out in a field randomly and it will pull in the occasional suicidal dove. To make a spinner work, you need to put it on the “X” where doves want to be. It helps, too, if the field isn’t full of other hunters. In that way, spinners are no different than any other decoy.

Earlier this season two of us hunted a cut cornfield full of doves. There was a strip of standing corn four rows wide running the length of the field along the crest of a hill. We watched it for a few minutes and could see doves diving into a short gap in the strip, which, we decided, was where we needed to hunt.  We hiked up the hill and set up, me looking west, Rick looking east, each of us guarding a spinner. It soon became apparent that while I had a little shooting at birds that got past Rick, he was on the X, and his shots came at doves sliding in for a landing. I stuck it out on my side of the row until I couldn’t stand it any longer, then took my decoy and seat over to his side. “You are having way too much fun over here by yourself,” I told him. “Move over.” We took turns shooting and each had our limits in about an hour. Almost every dove we shot was coming in to the decoys. At one point, three came in for a landing and we got all three, warming my waterfowler’s heart.

I did learn that doves coming straight into decoys are harder to shoot than ducks doing the same. A dove coming right at you head on doesn’t present much to look or shoot at, and if you wait for it to backpedal like a duck, it plops onto the ground before you ever pull the trigger  I think in the future when I find myself on the X I’ll put the decoy 10-15 yards to one side or the other so I can take quartering in shots.

That’s what I have learned about doves and spinners* so far. Any of you have more good advice to add?

*I have also learned sheep shy away from spinners but if you are patient, eventually curiosity gets the better of them.

 

Comments (18)

Top Rated
All Comments
from Sayfu wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

Downside is....they eventually learn to stay away, and not decoy as well, and then the hunter that has more of, or a new improved version does better at attracting birds. Where's the end of it all?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from TED FORD wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

Be careful with those action decoys,boys.The doves have a tendency to come in too low for safe shooting in a crowded dove field.They are not allowed on many social hunts for that reason.Shooting low birds here in the South will likely result in an invitation to leave the field.That means no BBQ either.Under those cicumstances one oughtn't to expect to be invited back.
No one like a face full of bird shot even with good eye protection, and your teeth will find it most objectionable.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

I haven't gone motorized and am certain I won't. Readers need to be aware that in some jurisdictions motorized decoys are illegal.

I had a similar experience a couple of years ago. All morning long I watched the flights go overhead to somewhere southwest of me. When I finally packed it in I went looking for them and found a couple hundred in a stubble field at the base of a long closed ski hill. Came back for the afternoon shift a little late. Gad, I couldn't get the decoys set up twenty yards out because the honkers were trying to land on me. Finally got a dozen up in a hurry and the dogs and I hid in a willow ditch. Every goose that flew in the sky within sight of that spot came and fell in there. No kidding. They'd be more than a mile away and all I had to do was give my call a whistle and here they came. I had three down in a few minutes. Then about fifty came over a hundred yards up and fell on my deeks like stones. I never had a chance to shoot. There they were walking around in front of the dogs and I some not twenty yards away. Poor mutts about had a stroke but they held tight. I couldn't shoot for fear of killing a half dozen when I only needed two. More piled in from the other side. Must have been a hundred in my decoys when a family group finally circled providing me with some good pass shots. I fanned all three rounds! The racket in front of me was deafening as the cloud departed. Not a bird to show for it. I chuckled. About ten minutes later a pair of very large honkers came in and I easily shot them both.

Now, I don't use fancy full-body flocked deeks or motion flags or half a dozen different expensive calls (mojo deeks are the kiss of death for goose hunting - don't work at all!). I have twelve G&H shells bought in 1974 and four other collectables I bought for my dad in 1969. And I call with an Olt goose flute that is probably as old as I am (picked it up used from son of a deceased old-time goose hunter). I think the point here is (drum roll please ... finally!) if you're where the birds want to be it really doesn't make a lot of difference what the decoy placement looks like. I've had thirty honkers land right in my deeks even though half of them were blown over upside down (and those old decoys have a bright white underside!). Fortunately for those guys, I was already filled out.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report
from RES1956 wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

I disagree with Sayfu about doves wising up to spinners. Given the very short life expectancy of a dove (80% live less than a year whether they are hunted or not) there will always be enough suckers to make it interesting. I never cease to be amazed how effective a single decoy lobbed over a powerline is.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

I can buy that. Maybe in a very high hunting dove area. I've only seen several other dove hunters besides myself where I hunt doves, and I have had a great season. But I was thinking more about ducks than doves. But length of life has little to do with it on ducks. Heavily hunted, and late in the season having a number of other hunters using the Robos, and they learn to avoid them. Then the new Robos come more improved, and not just wings moving.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wicked4x4 wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

they seem to work well (on dove) from what i've seen. i wasn't planning to buy one, but my dad and i saw how well it was working for our friend, so he bought one for each of us.
we got our limits without the mojos, but we saw the birds changing course and dive-bombing the mojos. many came in and landed around and on them before the hunters could shoot the birds. needed to send the dogs out in the field to scare the birds up high enough to shoot.
*i've not seen one eurasian dove change course for one of these though, or any other decoy for that matter.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

I've never seen a Eurasian dove outside a city limit! They know where the imaginary line is. I did get one, and not much outside the city limits. A much bigger breast when I cleaned it, and ID'd with the collar.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckstopper wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

I agree with Ted, you better watch out for low birds when in a crowded field. Set your spinner where you can hit the incoming birds before they come into land. I wear eye protection but I've taken some hits in the chest from some yahoos shooting low birds.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from SD Bob wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

Before reading Ted's comments, I never thought about the low birds coming into my mojo being a safety issue because I almost always hunt alone but I can surely see that it could get dangerous in a hurry!

Mojo placement for me means placing it so I have a right to left shot at a quickly decelerating bird. When it works, it means one shell per dove.

Phil, you don't live far from excellent prairie grouse hunting, do you ever chase shartails and chickens?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from philbourjaily wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

Bob --
I did a horseback sharptail and chicken hunt about ten years ago near Pierre. I'd like to get back and try it again sometime. I have shot a few random sharptails on Canadian duck hunts, too.

Likewise I have almost always been alone when I have used a mojo, or the other hunters have all been on the same side of the field for safety.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Andy Gibbs wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

I have no issues with spinning wing dove decoys. They are hard enough to hit as it is not to mention most of the time when we hunt them, we are in danger of heatstroke.

Ah wood ducks.......many will not shoot them until 10:00 am or so fearing to do so will prevent mallards from coming in. Wood ducks will decoy if they feel safe. I have had them literally land on top of me hunting in the Trinity River Bottoms of North Texas or in the flooded timber of Bayou Meto. They are curious to a fault. Many who hunt Wood Ducks specifically only carry Wood Duck Decoys with them----bad choice. Like I said, they're curious.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dale freeman wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

You fellers must be burning the midnight earl.
A new post allmost everyday.
I enjoy your post and thanks for the dedicated work

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dale freeman wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

You fellers must be burning the midnight earl.
A new post allmost everyday.
I enjoy your post and thanks for the dedicated work

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wingshooter54 wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

I learned the Mojo's are pretty resistant to no. 8 shot and the wings still turn with pellet holes in them. This should give you some idea of how close they will pull doves in. They are absolutely deadly on waterholes; the shooting somewhat like teal swarming into decoys. Seriously, add a few decoys on the ground and it helps the mojo's considerably.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from deadeyedick wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

I think height of your spinners also important in your set up. we place some about 4 feet, 8 feet, 10 feet. we also found that bamboo poles are a good way to to adjust the height. They are light and are very sharp on the end to make them easy to erect. We place clip on decoys in all the dead snags where doves like to rest. the big drawback to using decoys is that they draw all the slob SOBS when these yahoos hear all the shooting they come like flies to a fresh pile of s___. They set up to close to us and a shouting match ensues. since I do not own the land I have no athority to make them leave. ruins the day for everyone.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

deadeye...And that is the recommendation I've seen for dove Robos...get them up high.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from duckdog07 wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

I need someone to invent the dove wagon/cart to carry all my dove hunting gear.In my teens my dove gear consisted of a shotgun and some shells maybe a 5 gallon bucket,now I have a couple of cases of shells, two shotguns, cooler,lunch and snacks, dove chair, range bag with chokes and a small cleaning kit,camo rain jacket sunglasses, half dozen dove decoys,one (pending purchase) moto dove decoy.the list is endless OK folks theres your million dollar idea get to it!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from springerman3 wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

duckdog07: I have a gun cart that a company called Rugged Gear makes. It is a few years old and would haul most of what you list, the newer ones are larger and might fit that bill. It carries alot of stuff for me at the sporting clays courses I shoot on, probably the best Christmas present my wife and kids ever gave me.
Only my 2nd year shooting at doves here in Iowa, it has been a hoot !!

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from TED FORD wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

Be careful with those action decoys,boys.The doves have a tendency to come in too low for safe shooting in a crowded dove field.They are not allowed on many social hunts for that reason.Shooting low birds here in the South will likely result in an invitation to leave the field.That means no BBQ either.Under those cicumstances one oughtn't to expect to be invited back.
No one like a face full of bird shot even with good eye protection, and your teeth will find it most objectionable.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

Downside is....they eventually learn to stay away, and not decoy as well, and then the hunter that has more of, or a new improved version does better at attracting birds. Where's the end of it all?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RES1956 wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

I disagree with Sayfu about doves wising up to spinners. Given the very short life expectancy of a dove (80% live less than a year whether they are hunted or not) there will always be enough suckers to make it interesting. I never cease to be amazed how effective a single decoy lobbed over a powerline is.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

I can buy that. Maybe in a very high hunting dove area. I've only seen several other dove hunters besides myself where I hunt doves, and I have had a great season. But I was thinking more about ducks than doves. But length of life has little to do with it on ducks. Heavily hunted, and late in the season having a number of other hunters using the Robos, and they learn to avoid them. Then the new Robos come more improved, and not just wings moving.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wicked4x4 wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

they seem to work well (on dove) from what i've seen. i wasn't planning to buy one, but my dad and i saw how well it was working for our friend, so he bought one for each of us.
we got our limits without the mojos, but we saw the birds changing course and dive-bombing the mojos. many came in and landed around and on them before the hunters could shoot the birds. needed to send the dogs out in the field to scare the birds up high enough to shoot.
*i've not seen one eurasian dove change course for one of these though, or any other decoy for that matter.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

I've never seen a Eurasian dove outside a city limit! They know where the imaginary line is. I did get one, and not much outside the city limits. A much bigger breast when I cleaned it, and ID'd with the collar.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckstopper wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

I agree with Ted, you better watch out for low birds when in a crowded field. Set your spinner where you can hit the incoming birds before they come into land. I wear eye protection but I've taken some hits in the chest from some yahoos shooting low birds.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from SD Bob wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

Before reading Ted's comments, I never thought about the low birds coming into my mojo being a safety issue because I almost always hunt alone but I can surely see that it could get dangerous in a hurry!

Mojo placement for me means placing it so I have a right to left shot at a quickly decelerating bird. When it works, it means one shell per dove.

Phil, you don't live far from excellent prairie grouse hunting, do you ever chase shartails and chickens?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from philbourjaily wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

Bob --
I did a horseback sharptail and chicken hunt about ten years ago near Pierre. I'd like to get back and try it again sometime. I have shot a few random sharptails on Canadian duck hunts, too.

Likewise I have almost always been alone when I have used a mojo, or the other hunters have all been on the same side of the field for safety.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Andy Gibbs wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

I have no issues with spinning wing dove decoys. They are hard enough to hit as it is not to mention most of the time when we hunt them, we are in danger of heatstroke.

Ah wood ducks.......many will not shoot them until 10:00 am or so fearing to do so will prevent mallards from coming in. Wood ducks will decoy if they feel safe. I have had them literally land on top of me hunting in the Trinity River Bottoms of North Texas or in the flooded timber of Bayou Meto. They are curious to a fault. Many who hunt Wood Ducks specifically only carry Wood Duck Decoys with them----bad choice. Like I said, they're curious.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dale freeman wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

You fellers must be burning the midnight earl.
A new post allmost everyday.
I enjoy your post and thanks for the dedicated work

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dale freeman wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

You fellers must be burning the midnight earl.
A new post allmost everyday.
I enjoy your post and thanks for the dedicated work

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wingshooter54 wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

I learned the Mojo's are pretty resistant to no. 8 shot and the wings still turn with pellet holes in them. This should give you some idea of how close they will pull doves in. They are absolutely deadly on waterholes; the shooting somewhat like teal swarming into decoys. Seriously, add a few decoys on the ground and it helps the mojo's considerably.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from deadeyedick wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

I think height of your spinners also important in your set up. we place some about 4 feet, 8 feet, 10 feet. we also found that bamboo poles are a good way to to adjust the height. They are light and are very sharp on the end to make them easy to erect. We place clip on decoys in all the dead snags where doves like to rest. the big drawback to using decoys is that they draw all the slob SOBS when these yahoos hear all the shooting they come like flies to a fresh pile of s___. They set up to close to us and a shouting match ensues. since I do not own the land I have no athority to make them leave. ruins the day for everyone.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

deadeye...And that is the recommendation I've seen for dove Robos...get them up high.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from duckdog07 wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

I need someone to invent the dove wagon/cart to carry all my dove hunting gear.In my teens my dove gear consisted of a shotgun and some shells maybe a 5 gallon bucket,now I have a couple of cases of shells, two shotguns, cooler,lunch and snacks, dove chair, range bag with chokes and a small cleaning kit,camo rain jacket sunglasses, half dozen dove decoys,one (pending purchase) moto dove decoy.the list is endless OK folks theres your million dollar idea get to it!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from springerman3 wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

duckdog07: I have a gun cart that a company called Rugged Gear makes. It is a few years old and would haul most of what you list, the newer ones are larger and might fit that bill. It carries alot of stuff for me at the sporting clays courses I shoot on, probably the best Christmas present my wife and kids ever gave me.
Only my 2nd year shooting at doves here in Iowa, it has been a hoot !!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

I haven't gone motorized and am certain I won't. Readers need to be aware that in some jurisdictions motorized decoys are illegal.

I had a similar experience a couple of years ago. All morning long I watched the flights go overhead to somewhere southwest of me. When I finally packed it in I went looking for them and found a couple hundred in a stubble field at the base of a long closed ski hill. Came back for the afternoon shift a little late. Gad, I couldn't get the decoys set up twenty yards out because the honkers were trying to land on me. Finally got a dozen up in a hurry and the dogs and I hid in a willow ditch. Every goose that flew in the sky within sight of that spot came and fell in there. No kidding. They'd be more than a mile away and all I had to do was give my call a whistle and here they came. I had three down in a few minutes. Then about fifty came over a hundred yards up and fell on my deeks like stones. I never had a chance to shoot. There they were walking around in front of the dogs and I some not twenty yards away. Poor mutts about had a stroke but they held tight. I couldn't shoot for fear of killing a half dozen when I only needed two. More piled in from the other side. Must have been a hundred in my decoys when a family group finally circled providing me with some good pass shots. I fanned all three rounds! The racket in front of me was deafening as the cloud departed. Not a bird to show for it. I chuckled. About ten minutes later a pair of very large honkers came in and I easily shot them both.

Now, I don't use fancy full-body flocked deeks or motion flags or half a dozen different expensive calls (mojo deeks are the kiss of death for goose hunting - don't work at all!). I have twelve G&H shells bought in 1974 and four other collectables I bought for my dad in 1969. And I call with an Olt goose flute that is probably as old as I am (picked it up used from son of a deceased old-time goose hunter). I think the point here is (drum roll please ... finally!) if you're where the birds want to be it really doesn't make a lot of difference what the decoy placement looks like. I've had thirty honkers land right in my deeks even though half of them were blown over upside down (and those old decoys have a bright white underside!). Fortunately for those guys, I was already filled out.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report

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