Most cripples are the result of shots taken out of range. And most long-range shots are the result of an improperly placed spread. Too many hunters scatter decoys in front of their blinds without taking into account two important variables: the direction of the wind and how the type of ducks they’re hunting approach decoys. Here’s how to set up for close shots at puddlers and divers.

[1] Puddle ducks’ feet are located toward the middle of their bodies, giving them the ability to jump straight off the water when they flush. To avoid collisions, incoming ducks land at the outside edge of a group of swimming puddlers. If you’re hunting over puddle-duck decoys, create a pocket on the outside edge of your spread and locate your blind 30 yards downwind.

[2] Diving ducks have feet nearer to the tail, so they must run across the water and take off at a low flight angle, posing no threat of collision to incomers. When you’re setting up a spread for divers, just arrange your dekes in a line leading into the wind. Locate your blind 30 yards off that line, just downwind of the head of your spread.