How to make effective duck hunting decoys for under $10

Give 'em the ol' Texas trash bag treatment.

two Canadian geese by some water
Whether you're hunting duck or goose, we've got ideas for both.2 Bro’s Media/Unsplash

This story was originally featured on Outdoor Life.

These five homemade decoys are perfect for the waterfowler on a budget. The economy is bad, but the duck hunting this season should be good—real good—if you can afford to hunt it. Here are five waterfowl decoys for divers, dabblers, and geese that you can make yourself. That way you can save your hard-earned cash for all that ammo you’re going to need this season.

The lobster pot diver

a duck decoy made out of a lobster buoy
Ducks float, and so do buoys, so they're a natural candidate for a DIY decoy.Outdoor Life
  • Cost: $12 or less per decoy.
  • Materials: Lobster buoy, furring strip, basswood, epoxy, and paint.
  • How-to: Saw the buoy in half (one buoy makes two decoys). Cut a 1-inch furring strip for a keel. Carve a basswood head or find plastic replacement heads online.
  • Bonus: Commercial fishermen may give or sell you old buoys for less than you’ll pay for one online.

The recycled decoy

a recycled duck decoy
Breathe new life into old decoys with a bit of hot glue and paint.Outdoor Life
  • Cost: $7 or less per decoy.
  • Materials: That pile of shot-up plastic dekes in your shed, a glue gun, paint, and clear coat.
  • How-to: Heat up the glue gun and start plugging holes. Clean up the plugs with inexpensive crafts-store paint, and then harden them with flat matte clear coat.
  • Bonus: This is a great way to turn beat-up old mallard decoys into those harder-to-find species like shovelers and ring-necks.

The foamer

a duck decoy made out of plastic foam
You'd never know this decoy was made out of bright pink foam.Outdoor Life
  • Cost: $9 per decoy, for a dozen or more.
  • Materials: Pink insulating foam board, epoxy, burlap, mastic, basswood, and a furring strip.
  • How-to: Laminate the foam boards into a duck-sized block and start carving until it resembles the shape of a resting bird. Cut a keel from the furring strip and epoxy in place. Wrap a layer of burlap over the foam. Apply mastic and let it sit for 24 hours. Carve a duck head from the basswood or find a plastic head online. Paint to match plumage.
  • Bonus: You can find inexpensive painted replacement decoy heads quickly online. Websites such as eBay and AutumnWings are good.

The Texas trash bag

a duck decoy made out of a trash bag
About as low-budget as you can go, to be honest.Outdoor Life
  • Cost: $2 or less per decoy.
  • Materials: White kitchen trash bags, cardboard, spray paint, and stakes.
  • How-to: Cut a goose head and neck silhouette out of the cardboard and spray-paint it white (optional). Tie the bag to the stake at two points like a windsock. Attach the cardboard neck and head (not shown) to the stake. Spray black wingtips on the tail end of the bag.
  • Bonus: Use a black garbage bag and white paint for a Canada goose decoy.

The bleach bottle seaduck

a duck decoy made out of an empty bleach bottle
Just make sure the bottle is cleaned out and sealed tightly before you put it out on the water. You wouldn't want it to leak nasty chemicals or sink to the bottom.Outdoor Life
  • Cost: $2 or less per decoy.
  • Materials: Bleach bottle, flat black spray paint, and an anchor.
  • How-to: Peel the label off an old Clorox bottle, paint a black stripe around it, and tie an anchor line to the handle.
  • Bonus: Clear jugs work, too. First, put a little white paint inside, seal, and shake.