Photograph by Jarren Vink

Duck decoys weren’t staying put last season? Goose silhouettes not as attractive as they once were? Anchor cords tangled or fraying? And is that a spark plug at the end of that drake mallard? A couple of hours of prep work prior to opening day will ensure everything in your spread will be in working order.

1. Inspect each decoy and set aside any that are cracked, chipped, or otherwise in poor repair for patching and mending later. Look carefully at stress points such as keel attachments, anchor-line points, necks, feet, and bases.

2. Check all anchor cords for fraying, paying special attention to any connections, i.e., knots, swivels, and clips. Replace any that show signs of wear with new line or hardware. Lead weights can crack and break from repeated bending; replace worn ones.

3. Wash each decoy with cold water only and a stiff-bristle brush. Don’t use soap or detergent because some products may enhance the UV characteristics of the plastics, which you can’t see but ducks supposedly can.

4. Don’t buy bargain-basement paints if you decide to repaint decoys; you’ll find yourself doing touch-ups midseason. Flambeau’s UVision decoy paint kits make the process easy.

5. Wire rings or straight stakes can be carefully straightened and repainted. Plastic or wooden stakes, if damaged beyond repair, should be replaced. Check each base connection with the appropriate decoy to confirm proper assembly.

One more tip: Doing all this work before putting your decoys away is worth the effort. Mud left behind can damage some finishes, and damp hardware may corrode. Get it done and you won’t have any worries come the opener.