I was thinking about why I care so much about how my decoys look as I was touching them up today. It's an early September ritual for me. If I had to float ratty looking decoys on the opener I wouldn't go.
This reminded me of an early lesson in appearance I got many years ago. Fresh out of the Air Force and dressed for my first day in the real world of work in a brand new, albeit discount store, suit. One of the senior guys at LOOK magazine (if you can remember LOOK magazine, congratulations on your longevity) pulled me aside and asked where I bought the suit. I said J.C. Penney. He grimaced and told me to get to the best men's clothing store in town and buy three or four of their top-line suits. He said if I couldn't afford to do that, I should borrow the money.
I remember being more than a little chagrined. So I said to the executive, "I think this suit looks pretty good. Who will know the difference between this suit and an expensive one?" He said simply, "You will." and walked away.
So how important is it to the ducks if my decoys have a fresh coat of paint? Would they flair from a beat up spread? I know hunters who just paint all their decoys dull brown. All over. Claim they work just as well. They could be right but I'll never know.
I'll mix up a soup of saw dust and waterproof Elmer's glue and fill in the muskrat gnaws; sand down the flaking paint; prime the bare spots; and finish with the best decoy paint I can find. And since my Herter's stash of decoy paints has finally all dried up, I had to go looking this summer. I recommend paint from Decoy Rigs in Whiting, Indiana. They don't have a website! so you can call them on your dime at 219 659-8371 or buy their paints through Knutson's website www.knutsondecoys.com
Will the ducks know I went to all this work? Probably not. But I will.