All’s fair in love and hunt. That might not be the exact saying, but it’s a very fitting one nonetheless. People came up with dozens of means to increase their chances of returning home with prey, and hunting decoys are one of such tricks. They are not an obligatory attribute of every hunt, and yet, these shameless deceivers might be of great help to everyone who wants to play safely.
There are decoys for every type of prey: deer decoys, turkey decoys, ones for waterfowl and upland hunting, basically, everything a person can hunt. The question of decoys being equally helpful against different animals is debatable, but those who enjoy waterfowl hunting tend to use decoys more often. One possible reason is that birds are smaller than, say, bucks and does, and carrying bird decoys is more convenient than bringing the whole or even partial decoy of an adult deer. All animals perceive decoys of their own species as a signal of safety: if someone of their kin is there and is not running away, there is no danger coming from this place, and one can approach. Birds are more prone to this visual trick and thus land near decoys more often, which is a poor decision for them but a great opportunity for us.
Among decoys for waterfowl hunting, there are several types more popular than the rest. Those are, first and foremost, various duck decoys (mallard decoys included) and coot decoys. Many of them come in bundles of a dozen or so because higher numbers are more convincing. There could be one carefree duck who is not to be trusted, but twenty of them are a sure sign of security. That’s what waterfowls think, and we exploit.
Another popular bird of our prey is the turkey. Turkey hunting decoys are bigger and are usually sold one at a time. Some are more inventive than the rest, like injured gobbler decoys. They exploit gobblers' intention to establish dominance over each other, and seeing injured kin is the best chance to do so. Quite sneaky of them, so don’t feel too guilty for playing dirty.