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How to Make a Cheap Spinning-Wing Duck Decoy

The black-and-white flashing vanes of a spinning-wing decoy mimic the rapid beats of a landing mallard's wings, attracting ducks that might bypass a static spread. Most battery-powered versions sell for well over $50 apiece, but for just $5 you can make one that relies on a breeze to give it motion*. Here's how. —PHILIP BOURJAILY

MAKE THE STAKE: Push or pound the dowel into one end of your conduit until it's flush. Drill a hole for the lag screw in the end of the dowel. Insert the screw into the hole and cut off its head, leaving about 1¼ inches projecting for the spindle. Paint the conduit flat black.

PREPARE THE BODY: Cut the body out of ¾-inch plywood and drill a 7/64-inch-diameter hole through the center. Drill a ¼-inch-diameter hole 1½ inches into the edge of the wood at the breast. Press your axle sleeve into the first hole and your stake sleeve into the second. Paint body and sleeves with flat enamels.

ASSEMBLE THE WINGS: With scissors, cut off the top and bottom of your 2-liter bottle, then cut the remainder lengthwise into quarters, making four identical wing halves. Arrange two halves with the long, flat sides next to each other, one curving up, the other down. Leaving a ¼-inch gap between the two, staple their ends between ½-inch-wide strips of 3/32-inch plywood. Drill a 1/8-inch hole through the edges of the plywood strips in the center of the gap. Repeat for the second wing. Paint each wing black on one side; half black, half white on the other.

FINISH THE DUCK: Run piano wire through the axle sleeve, then slide on washers, wings, and Dura-Collars, in that order. Tighten the collars to keep the wings from sliding off the axle.

HOW TO USE IT: Set the stake so that it protrudes 2–3 feet out of the water and place the decoy on the spindle. Put four of these in a pocket in your spread, right where you want ducks to land.

MATERIALS • 2-liter plastic bottle (wings) • Paintbrush • 20x11-inch sheet of ¾-inch plywood (duck body) • 2½ inches of 3/8-inch brass tube (stake sleeve) • 1¼ inches of 1/8-inch brass tube (axle sleeve) • 3-inch length of 5/8-inch dowel (stake insert) • 2½-inch-long ¼-inch-diameter lag screw (stake spindle) • Two 3/32-inch flat washers • 4-foot length of ½-inch metal electrical conduit (stake support) Available at hobby shops: 18-inch length of 1/16-inch piano wire (axle) • Two 3/32-inch Du-Bro Dura-Collars • 6x2-inch sheet of 3/32-inch plywood • Flat enamel paint (green, black, gray, brown, olive, white, orange)

*These decoys are illegal in Arkansas. Check your state and local regulations before using them anywhere.

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