Field & Stream Online Editors
Field & Stream Online Editors

Since their introduction, a good deal of controversy has surrounded electric spinning-wing duck decoys, in which a battery-powered motor propels a set of twirling wings. Of course, the movement is meant to make your spread appear more lifelike and therefore to lure more ducks into gun range. Proponents say they work very well; detractors say they work too well.

So last week, I thought I’d see what all the fuss is about and bought one of the things. When I told a friend, he said, “Isn’t that a little like using chlorine to catch trout?”

“That’s what I plan to find out,” I told him. “If it works so well that I feel like I’m cheating, I’ll take it out of my spread, and when I get home, I’ll pack it up and send it back.”

Well, I hunted over the decoy twice, and despite the claims of the advertising copy, it did not seem to “drive real ducks crazy” nor to “pull them in from miles around.” And I know I didn’t set the thing up incorrectly because apparently “there’s no wrong way to use these decoys.”

What I did was set it up among my usual spread. And if it made a difference, I couldn’t tell. The high-flying mallards that perennially pass my spread without a second look passed as always. And the ducks that did decoy into gun range didn’t seem to come any more readily or in greater numbers. Sure, a few came into my setup as if on a string, but that’s true on most hunts, with or without the spinning wings.

I’ll leave open the possibility that some of those birds did come closer because of the electric decoy, but I couldn’t say for sure because it was far from obvious. In the end, at least in terms of effectiveness, it didn’t seem like cheating, and it didn’t begin to compare to catching trout with chlorine.

Of course, I only used the thing twice. There’s a good likelihood that it would work much better under different circumstances. With only two field trials, I’m not prepared to defend or denounce these electric wing-spinners–but I am interested in what you think.

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Does the use of electric spinning-wing decoys fall within the parameters of fair chase? If not, why?

I’d like to hear from you. E-mail me at, and I’ll post excerpts from your responses in an upcoming column.