BOOK OF DUCK DECOYS;
CONSTRUCTION, MANAGEMENT AND HISTORY.
|THE History of Duck Decoys is surrounded by difficulties of no ordinary kind, for the art of constructing and working them was carefully concealed in former times, so as to prevent as much as possible any addition to the number already existing, which otherwise would necessitate a division of the spoil, that spoil being the myriads of wildfowl which formerly haunted the fenlands of England. The Decoymen kept their secrets well, and were indeed forced to do so in their own interests, for it stood to reason they knew that the greater the number of Decoys in use the less would be each owner; proportionate share of birds.|
A Decoy was private property, was well protected by a wide ditch or high fence, and was as a rule in a retired and even remote situation. It was usually worked by one man, or perhaps by a father and son, and the owner purposely shrouded its management with mystery, and spread absurdly inaccurate reports as to his manner of Decoying and of the accessories of the Decoy. He was always on the watch for intruders and would on no account give them the slightest reliable information.
He kept his successes as secret as he could in a day when it was a matter of a livelihood to him to conceal them; for was he not fearful of an increased rent, or of some covetous neighbour setting up a Decoy for himself hard by, and so robbing him perchance of half his profits?
A Decoyman lived a lonely, quiet life, seldom attending fairs or markets; he conversed in a low tone, and his appearance and manner was inoffensive and reserved: always as though going stealthily for fear of alarming the ducks.