Saturday, November 6, 2010

Review: WindWhacker waterfowl motion decoy upgrades

For the past several years, the best trick in my duck hunting decoy bag has been the WindWhacker.

Boyfriend and I had been using a WinDuk, but found it to be of little use on days with only light breezes - it takes a decent amount of wind to make its wings spin. Then in 2008, I went hunting with my friend Brent up in the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge and he pulled out the most ridiculous decoy I'd ever seen: Two metal blades painted black on one side and white on the other, suspended from two wire arms that stuck out of the top of a pole. It didn't look remotely like a duck.

But crazy thing: Its blades started spinning in the lightest of breezes, and the motion was enough to attract the attention of ducks, who are often too curious for their own good. Bonus points: It's lightweight and takes very little space in your gear bag.

I went home and ordered two sets, and I've been taking them into the field with me ever since. Read more...
Here's my ultra-amateur backyard video of how it looks (and yes, I know the lawn looks like crap - I don't water it in the summer):



This summer, WindWhacker inventor Don Rohrke found some of my posts here where I mentioned the WindWhacker, and he got in touch with me. Couple funny coincidences: He's a retired college professor (which is what I do for a living), and he's an alum of Sacramento State, where I teach now, and I'm also an alumna.

Rohrke wanted to let me know he and his son had made some improvements to the WindWhacker, and offered to send me a new set. "Hell yes!" I said, and now that I've hunted with the new set a couple times, I can tell you that the upgrades work really well.

The first is pretty simple: The old WindWhacker blades attached to the arms with a metal snap/swivel, and you could sometimes hear the clank of the metal on metal. Now WindWhacker provides a pack of silent tethers (including extras), and that noise is gone. Here's how it looks:


But the best improvement is to the top of the carbon fiber support pole. The old top was pretty simple:


Here's what I hated about that: Sharp edges made it a little unpleasant to insert the arms into the pole, and really unpleasant to push the pole into the mud with ungloved hands.

The new pole solves that problem:


Not only does the plastic top have no sharp edges, but the cap provides a much larger and smoother surface for pushing the pole into the mud. And bonus points: If a really strong wind comes up, there's no chance it's going to yank the arm and blade out of the pole and send it into the water (which has happened to me just once in the past two years).

That's it - pretty simple. I suppose if you were handy, you could rig up something like this out of spare junk in your garage. But I'm not handy, so it's worth it to me to pay for one that works well. I also really like supporting hunting entrepreneurs who see problems, solve them and try their luck on the open market. If you feel the same, you can click here to buy directly from Rohrke.

A set like the one in the video above costs $50.

If you deal with high winds a lot (like I'll probably be hunting in tomorrow), you'll find you need two poles, and you can suspend one blade horizontally between the poles. If you let it hang vertically, it will swing around way too wildly and clank against the support pole.

Rohrke also makes specialized goose blades, and while it may be too late for folks in many states, he makes a WindWhacker for dove hunting too. California's second dove season starts a week from today - woot! - so it's not too late for folks here.

© Holly A. Heyser 2010

6 comments:

Don Rohrke said...

Hi hunters
Can you imagine the frustration that comes with being hearing impaired and unable to call ducks? Well, that's me. I'm an old man, and a life time duck hunter, that can't hear and as a result can't call. It really sucks when you are surrounded by other blinds that are pulling the birds away from you. So, I made myself a mechanical spinning wing--bingo! It worked. The only problem was that it was heavy,hard to transport,required batteries, and under good hunting conditions(electricity and water don't mix), it failed. I used the
Winduck, but it would not turn in low wind and I kept losing parts in the dark. There was no product on the market that was effect, light and easy to use, transport,and assemble. These were the problems and the WINDWHACKER DECOY SYSTEM solved the problem.
As a promotion I am inviting hunters that are interested to come and hunt with me in my blind and experience the effectiveness of the WINDWHACKER in action. I charge $150 for one hunter, $275 for two hunters and $350 for three($25 off for juniors). Each hunter will receive a complimentary BASIC WING SET($30 value)as a promotional gift. If you are interested in hunting with me and the WindWhacker system contact me at: donrohrke@yahoo.com You can also check out the WINDWHACKER at www.windwhacker.com

Ryan Sabalow said...

Holly,
Hope you had a fine shoot today. Sadly, I had to work. I saw your post the other day about shooting in the wind. Over the years, I've been a downright terrible wind shooter myself.

But the other day in a howling windstorm up in Lower Klamath, I think I figured it out though it took a box of shells and some terrible trial and error missing to do so.

If the birds are flying into the wind and within range (you can see the ducks' eyeballs) increase your normal lead by six inches. I did that and quickly finished off the three birds I needed for a limit. I even knocked a pair of wigeon out of the air with a single shot.

Also, if you miss with the first shot, stop. As soon as the ducks bank after the first miss, they hit that wind and get pushed back 20 yards in a second or two. Blasting with shell 2 and 3 is just wasting shells, in my experience. Best to wait for the next flock.

Sabs

Ryan Sabalow said...

Also, you mentioned in your post that you use No. 6 shot. Though this small shot is fine for extremely close ducks over decoys on calm days, I'd highly recommend bumping up your shot size on windy days to a No. 2 shot or higher.

Also, get the fastest shot you can afford. Remington and other manufacturers are selling some 1,700 feet per second stuff these days. I've found that extra speed helps cut through the wind and will keep you from crippling -- and losing -- as many birds.

Your duck roasts might have bigger holes in them, but your game strap will be much heavier at the end of the day.

That's always a good thing, no?

NorCal Cazadora said...

Don, thanks for stopping by! You make a fine product - I don't hunt ducks without it. If anyone wants to take Don up on that offer, I believe the blind he's talking about is in the Chico area.

Ryan, I went out today but developed a ferocious migraine and head to leave early. Shotgun blast hurt my head bigtime. Even calling hurt. Wah!

But it sure feels like I'm going to get lots of opportunities to practice in this kind of weather this fall. I'll keep your advice in mind on the lead. And I took several people's advice and went out today with big honkin' shot :-)

Blessed said...

It's amazing how much difference some motion in your decoys makes, especially when you are hunting smart birds or with a lot of competition. We use motorized motion wing decoys - but this looks like an awesome - non motorized alternative.

We tried WinDucks too - and weren't impressed.

NorCal Cazadora said...

In California, motorized decoys aren't legal to December, so something like this is vital early in the season. I've been tempted by motorized decoys but haven't gone for it yet because they're so expensive, and because I always see people having problems with them.