The question is in the title isn’t it? What do we use pigeon decoys for?
Well the simple answer is to fool pigeons into thinking that there are already pigeons safely on the ground feeding and that it is alright for them to come down and join the throng.
Even if pigeon aren’t fooled enough to get them to land they can often be simply drawn off their course across a field enough to bring them within range of our guns.
So our decoys have to do something to get the pigeons attantion, to catch their eye, and then to hold their attention long enough to get them with in range before they discover the “decoy” is no real pigeon.
To do both these things decoys have added features to firstly, catch the attention and then to, keep up the deceipt. We add movement and bright colouration to decoys to achieve the attention grabbing bit. Wobbly spring sticks, motorised cradles, flappers, rotary whirly-gigs and even rotary wings all help along with long bendy “floaters” and even poles to loft our decoys into the trees. The various devices also try to make these attention grabbing movements vaguely realistic to so the pigeon thinks it has caught sight of a feeding group down on the ground and is missing out on a meal.
If the colour, movement and pattern of these decoys keeps up the illusion of safety completelely our pigeon will actually come in to land amongst the decoys. Most of the time he will probably realise something is wrong but not until it is too late and we get in a shot at close range. The best form of decoy is, of course, the real thing. Adding dead birds to our existing pattern of decoys can only increase the effectiveness of our set up provided they are posed reasonably naturally. Dead birds laying with their feet in the air in the middle of our pattern won’t help.
So in summary our decoys must get a pigeons attention and hold it as long as possible. We must maximise it’s attrations and minimise it’s alarm signals.
These are just the basics. We must also put our decoys in the right place, at the right time, in the right pattern and in the right numbers to suit the conditions we are in.