Add Extra Dimension To Your Decoy Spread With A Jerk Rig
May 3rd, 2016 |
How to Finish Late Season Ducks | Using a Jerk Rig
No matter how long you have chased ducks, and regardless of the geography in which you hunt them, at some point during the duck season a switch will flip in the behavior of the duck. At some point the ducks you are chasing will decide that they no longer enjoy being shot at and will become very picky and very cautious. These ducks have officially transitioned from plain ducks to “late season ducks”. These types of ducks we all know can be extremely frustrating to hunt. In order to be successful you need to add an extra dimension to your duck decoy spread. Adding a jerk rig to your set up could mean the difference when hunting late season ducks.
Late season ducks and geese act like completely different creatures then they do early on in the season. These birds are ten times more wary, ten times more sensitive to movement and ten times more sensitive to calling. These ducks are very inconsistent and harder to pattern than earlier in the season. Sometimes these birds respond better to very little calling. Other times they seem like they require more calling then you have air in your lungs to provide. No doubt late season ducks can be extremely challenging to pursue and bare very little resemblance to the ducks you chased just a few weeks before. Late season ducks require duck hunters to dig deep down into their bag of tricks to ensure success. Hands down, late season ducks will not allow a duck hunter the ability to get away with a minimal hide, unrealistic decoy placement and appearance as well as the luxury of being off the “X” and still being able to fool the birds to come give your spread a look.
If there is one aspect to pursing late season decoy shy ducks that can help a duck hunter put more birds on the game carrier this fall, it would be realism. Having a realistic duck decoys and a realistic spread, with lifelike decoys can really make the difference between going home with full limits and going home empty handed. Keep in mind that by the time the late season rolls around, the ducks have heard it all and seen it all. By the late season, these birds are often able to be able to tell the difference between a duck decoy of less quality on one that is extremely realistic.
The second feature when considering a realistic decoy spread during the late season is simply movement. Movement can make or break any decoy spread and while having movement in your decoy spread is important at any time during the duck season, it is even more critical during the late season. There is no doubt that you have experienced the following scenario, it is the day after a front has passed through and high pressure is sitting in with blue bird skies. Its late December and there is ice on with very little wind. This is a very common scenario that happens every late season, a cold and tired waterfowl hunter sitting in the boat or the blind watching their decoys sit still and watching the ducks pass them by. While this scenario illustrates the results of having zero movement in your late season decoys spread, if you add decoy movement into the equation the results can be absolutely amazing!
One of the easiest and most cost effective way to always ensure that you have plenty of motion and movement in your decoy spread is to employ the use of a jerk rig system. A jerk rig system can help you take a little of control over mother-nature and always ensure that your decoy spread looks as realistic as possible. The decoy movement provided by a jerk rig can truly make or break a duck hunt during the late season. This article will discuss the jerk rig system and will explain how to correctly implement a jerk rig, why jerk rigs are an important piece of a waterfowl hunter’s arsenal and how to construct your own jerk rig system in the field.
Why Are Jerk Rigs Important?
Jerk rigs are an often overlooked piece of duck hunting hardware that most hunters feel they can do without until they find themselves in a situation where they are facing zero decoy movement and call shy ducks. Jerk Rigs ensure that duck hunters have the ability provide the up most realism at all times regardless of the situation. While decoy appearance and realism is important, movement in the decoy spread is even more so.
If you have spent much time watching live ducks on the water, especially ducks in large numbers you have most likely noticed that the water is never still. Ripples of cloudy, muddy water persist in the area that they birds are congregating due to the constant movement of the birds swimming and feeding. A jerk rig system can provide a duck hunter the ability to simulate these same conditions, and when used in conjunction with life like decoys such as the Hard Core Elite Mallards, will have ducks committing to the spread day in and day out. Realistic movement when used in conjunction with lifelike decoys and decoys placement can set your decoy spread apart for all of the other spread in the marsh which is what you want, especially if you are hunting public land.
Having motion in your decoy spread is very important part of late season success, and while the motion itself is a very important part of the jerk rig system there is one other aspect to jerk rig system that is often overlooked and underrated but is no less important to the success of the system and that is sound. In the waterfowl world, sound can truly be your friend when employed properly. As mentioned earlier, if you have ever observed large groups of ducks on the water no doubt you have heard the absolute ruckus that come with a large group of feeding ducks. Amongst all of the feed chuckling and hail calling that comes with the sound of feeding ducks on the water there is also a constant sound of water splashing, turning and churning. If you have every wondered why duck hunters in flooded timber kick the water, it is more of the sound that is created when the water is kicked than the motion on the water. The sound mimics the sound of a large number of birds on the water, thereby providing an elevated sense of realism to the spread. When you marry these two aspects of realism together you have yourself a very valuable piece of duck hunting hardware.
How to Employ a Jerk Rig System
While it may seem fairly self-explanatory, there is certainly a little bit of strategy that goes with effectively employing a jerk rig system in your decoy spread. The placement of the jerk rig system is a critical step in the process. Ducks tend to key in on the movement and will typically try to land within close proximity to the jerk rig. With this in mind, it is typically most effective to have the jerk rig set up either in or within close range of the kill hole. This will have move of the birds working in front of the spread and not over the back or side of the blind. If you are a duck hunter that typically uses a spinning wing decoy, then it can be very effective to use the spinning wing decoys on the outside edges of the spread, with the jerk rig in the center. The spinning wing decoys will act as a means to flag or attract wayward ducks and draw them close and the jerk rig system can help finish the job.
While jerk rigs certainly help put more ducks on the game carrier this fall, there are a couple of things to keep in mind when employing a jerk rig. The first is the hide. While the jerk rig is incredibly effective at drawing ducks in close, it is important to keep in mind that ducks attention will typically be trained right on the decoy spread and area just out from the kill hole. It will be very important to ensure you are well hidden. While most of the time, if a duck was to spot you and flare by the time they do they are well within range, however, it is always better to error on the side of caution. Similarly, using a jerk rig requires movement to operate. It is important to carefully pick your opportunities to use the jerk rig. Obviously the more cover you have, the more movement you can get away with. It will be important to keep these two factors in mind when using your jerk rig this fall.
Jerk Rig Construction
There are many different brands of jerk rigs available to the duck hunter today. Many offer a wide range of feature from the number of decoys you can place on the line to type if anchor mechanism you can use. At the grass roots, a jerk rig is very simple. It is simply a number of duck decoys (from 2-6) attached to a main line via swivel with an anchor or stake securing one end and the tag end ran to the blind.
Jerk Rig on the Fly
As you can see, constructing your own jerk rig can be very easy and very cost effective. However, what you do when you find yourself in the marsh without a jerk rig but in desperate need of some movement in your decoys? The answer is simple; you use what you have to create your own jerk rig like a duck hunting MacGyver. All you need is a spinning wing decoy pole, a rubber end from a decoy L weight and some decoy line. While it may seem like a hodgepodge scraps, it can really help you add a little movement into your decoy spread when you find yourself in a desperate situation. The decoy pole will act as the anchor point for the jerk rig. If you are hunting a flooded corn field or shrub/scrub type habitats you can easily get by with using a decoy stake, if you are hunting open water you might want to make a little extra effort to conceal the pole. Attach the rubber strap to the pole, using a few overhand knots. This rubber will help bring some elasticity to the jerk rig and enable the duck hunter to provide a little more realism in the spread. Lastly, attach your duck decoys to the line after attaching it to the rubber strap. You will want add and knot in the main line on either side of each decoy. This will ensure that you do not have decoys slamming together and will help keep a realistic appearance. Once completed, you are in business and ready to add a little bit more realism in your decoy spread.
Jerk rigs can truly make or break a duck hunt, especially during the late season. They provide the hunter the ability to put their decoy spread over the top by providing an unmatched sense of realism to the spread. Jerk rigs are relatively inexpensive and can be easily packed and stowed for transport in a boat or decoy bag, however, building your own jerk rigs either during the off season or while in the field can done easily with little trouble and yet can provide big results. If you have the chance, take advantage of a jerk rig the next time you find yourself up against late season ducks, and bring home a limit this fall!