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Hunting decoys are an important instrument when luring animals to a particular area.
Useful in many different circumstances, they help attract prey to specific places, making your job easier and your hunt more successful.
They are especially important when hunting in close proximity to others or on public land, and are an amazing tool that relies on patience and strategy rather than endurance or a chase.
Comparison of the Best Duck Decoys
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What is a Duck Decoy, and What is it Used For?
A duck decoy is a fake bird used to draw ducks to the area you are hunting in. Ducks typically flock to middle parts of water, so drawing them there is a smart and efficient way to come away with more.
Using these allows you to rely less on stamina or chasing, and simply allows you to set up and wait for the ducks to come to you. A good option is realistic, can be seen from the air, is durable, and most importantly, is the right species of duck.
What Makes These Decoys Stand Out
With numerous options to choose from, picking the right model can be daunting. Here are the three ways the decoys on our list come out as some of the top products on the market.
The best ones around are extremely lifelike. For some, relying on an accurate painting is enough, while others take into account things like posture, variability, and movement.
All quality options are beautifully shaped and painted and have line features to allow hunters to move the birds when necessary. Some, however, take this to the next level, by weighting them in different ways, or even adding remote control options to keep your duck decoys moving in a natural manner no matter what.
No matter how realistic, if it is poorly made, it won’t do the job. A good option is not only made from reliable materials, but should feature things like heavy-duty paint that is sure to stand the test of time, and water/weatherproof technology, especially if it is battery operated.
Ease of Use
Making sure to pick one that matches your wants and needs is very important. A good fit will mean that you and the decoy have a similar lifestyle in mind.
Some are more technology-based, and can be remote controlled or battery operated, which aids with realism, but can be challenging to use in extreme weather situations or during long trips, unless extra batteries are provided. For many, the classic wooden design is easy to use and straightforward, while others may want something a little more high-tech to get the job done.
Review of the Best Duck Decoys
With millions of options to choose from, finding the right decoy to invest in can be daunting. Here are the top options to pick from.
AvianX Top Flight Wood Duck Floaters (6 Pack)
AvianX Top Flight Wood Duck Floater Decoys are an amazing and realistic choice sure to attract ducks to your area. They are painted with incredible detail and are not only accurate, but a gorgeous representation.
These wooden carved masterpieces were engineered to capture the posture and personality of ducks resting on backwaters. Crafted with rubber molding material and non-chip paint, these are sure to last in any weather conditions and have a long lifespan.
Featuring an innovative weight-forward swim keel design, the line can be snapped through the swim clip to create natural movement in currents or in light breezes. Sure to fool even the smartest of birds, they are slightly oversized for visibility from the air and measure 12.5 inches breast to tail. They come in a pack of six to mimic a small flock with four males and two females.
These are some of the best customer-rated duck decoys, as they are durable, dependable, and realistic. Perfect for attracting birds to any waters, they are sure to increase your hunting yield for a long time as they are engineered to endure the harsh demands of exposure.
Overall, these are a great investment for anyone looking for quality wood ducks to attract a flock. They are engineered to mimic all aspects of live ducks including their markings, posture, and movement, and are created with the harshest elements in mind.
Dakota Decoy X-Treme Flocked Drake Head Mallards (12 Pack)
Dakota Decoy X-Treme Flocked Drake Head Mallards are a gorgeous hand-painted option and are the runner-up to the title of the best overall decoy. They are extremely realistic and varied, as each drake goes through a 24-step painting process and each hen goes through 16 steps.
Not only are they each individual in regards to paint, but there are six types of heads in the 12 pack that can be attached to different bodies and can be rotated up to 360 degrees. These are some of the most visually realistic ones ever created. They are composed of a 60/40 blend of high and low-density polyethylene for maximum durability. Proven to be extremely tough in this brand’s other options, it ensures the longevity of your decoys.
The ducks are also coated with paint that is proven to last, giving you years of use and consistent good looks no matter the weather or overall hunting conditions. They feature a weighted keel and have a cleat on the front of the keel to lengthen and shorten lines depending on the depth of the water. With seven drakes and five hens per package, there is significant variation that adds to the realism of the flock.
Dakota Decoy X-Treme Mallard decoys offer durable and realistic options. They are rated as runner-up to the best overall and feature a weighted keel and front cleat for ease of use for hunters. They can be semi-customized with adjustable heads of various positions, but buyer beware, they can be difficult to attach in some cases.
Avery Greenhead offers the best pro-grade duck decoys that won’t break the bank. These ducks are some of the best-rated by customers, as they are strong and long-lasting without being overly expensive.
They offer no compromises other than price. They are crafted with an incredibly realistic painted exterior and carving to imitate the real nature of ducks both visibly and tangibly. From any distance, these are sure to fool the eyes of friends and waterfowl. Made with high durability, pro-grade materials, these ducks are sure to last a long time in various conditions including weather, water, and general exposure.
No matter how tough the hunting is, these are tougher. They will provide reliable and consistent performance for many years, and allow you to focus on more important things than the condition of them.
They also feature thumb loops for easy pickup and storage and are user-friendly. Perfect for new hunters or anyone looking for a simple design. They are easily moved and stored, plus there is no need to worry about unwrapping or wrapping decoy lines. These are easy to use, exquisitely painted, and durable, all without the price tag you might expect.
Avery Greenhead Gear Pro-Grade Duck Decoys are the perfect choice for anyone new to hunting waterfowl, or new to using them in general. They provide amazingly lifelike and durable duck replicas without breaking the bank. Durable and easy to use and store, these are an amazing choice that only compromises on price.
For those looking for a more dynamic option, Lucky Duck provides a remote control decoy that is sure to fool waterfowl from any distance. They feature a totally waterproof shell to protect its powerful lithium-ion battery. With a remote control, it can be moved from far enough away to not cause any suspicion.
The package includes a carrying bag for simple and effective transportation as well as a seven-inch stake. This kit takes realism to the next level, as it is not only beautifully textured and painted but is structured for maximum accuracy regarding the posture and flight pattern of the duck it intends to imitate.
It features external charging options, as well as an external switch to turn it on and off, and is the first fully waterproof model on the market, ensuring the longevity of its internal technology. The Waterproof HDi is buoyant due to the foam filling and has durable injection-molded magnetic wings. This model offers maximum realism in every aspect as well as astounding technology that helps it take the title of best remote control option.
Lucky Duck provides an amazing remote control model that is sure to attract ducks to your area. It is realistic on many levels including visually, texturally, and via posture and movement. This model is totally waterproof and features a long-lasting battery, allowing you to create the most realistic and alluring experience for waterfowl.
This model uses groundbreaking technology to give you maximum control without compromising things like durability or realism. This unit is sure to last a long time in any weather conditions without harming the internal battery, and is a great option for anyone looking to complicate the old school models for something a little more unique.
The MOJO Outdoors Green Wing Teal Motion Duck Decoy offers a stellar green wing drake to lure waterfowl. With wings that function at twice the speed of typical spinning decoys on the market, this allows for quick operation that exceeds all other movements.
Fitted with a three-piece support pole, it is sturdy in all weather conditions. It features the famous mojo direct drive system that can run for up to 16 hours on four AA batteries, making it perfect for long term use or hunting trips. It is exquisitely rated via customers, surely due to its realistic paint and texture, and protection of its inner technology.
It is durable and highly lifelike, sure to attract ducks to your area with its realistic posture and high-speed movement. It is not remote compatible, but will do all the work, leaving you to wait for the birds to flock to you!
It can function both on constant spin, or delay mode, allowing one more variable and making this unit even more realistic. The magnetic wings are attached firmly, ensuring they stay on while in the field, no matter how fast their speed or weather conditions, but have been reported tricky to remove for storage.
This option is an amazing model for anyone looking for a battery operated and extremely real duck decoy. It has extremely fast wing speeds and is durable and realistic. It features a long battery lifespan and can be used continuously for 16 hours. It is perfect for traveling or use over trips, and is sure to attract ducks to any waters.
Best Red Head Duck Decoy:
Higdon Outdoors Standard Duck Decoy
What Recent Buyers Report
People who have recently bought and used this product are highly satisfied with its performance. They say that the texture and the design of the ducks look very realistic and that when put in water, they maintain their balance and float easily without turning on their side, which is an issue some ducks have.
Why it Stands Out to Us
It stands out to us because of Higdon’s innovative keel and keel-clip design. The keel is forward-weighing and self-righting. So, when shot at, the duck will be able to come back to its original position and keep floating in any depth of water, rather than making you leave your spot to reset its position. Also, the keel-clip allows for simple and short stringing in shallow waters, which is pretty cool.
It's a great product for hunters all around. You can use it on your own or pack it and take it to your favorite spot. It is great for increasing your collection, adding variety to it, or to your line-up. Do check it out if you are interested.
Best Wood Duck Decoy:
Higdon Outdoor Wood Duck Decoy
What Recent Buyers Report
They are highly satisfied with the decoys' performance, especially the fact that they are great at balancing in water and do not tip over or fall on their sides. Also, they are happy with the hyper-realistic texture and design of the ducks with brightly colored feathers that make them stand out.
Why it Stands Out to Us
Higdon is known for mastering the bulletproof duck decoy, and this one is no different. It is made of plastic as a base material, but the inside is filled fully with foam, making the decoy bulletproof as it has so much padding. This is useful in the long run, as it makes the decoy durable and long-lasting.
Overall, it is perfect for using it on its own, and for setting up in your favorite timber hole, adding to your already existing collection, or adding some variety to your spread. Durable, affordable, and suitable to use anywhere you want, this is one decoy that will get you quacking about how good it is.
Best Mojo Duck Decoy:
MOJO Outdoors Rippler Duck Decoy
What Recent Buyers Report
Customers say that it adds variety to a spread and is fun to use as it adds motion to the entire set-up. The ripples and waves are loved by hunters all around, especially those who are keen on having a spread with realistic motion. Its appearance is also highly praised, making the realistic design of a mallard duck really worth it.
Why it Stands Out to Us
This decoy is not only good for use on its own. It makes realistic ripples and is good enough to add motion to an entire spread of decoys. Therefore, it ensures a great overall hunting experience, especially for someone who is very keen on motion during decoy shooting.
Overall, it is great to add an overall realistic effect to your entire spread and is great for use on its own as well. This little decoy is realistic in appearance and motion, which will make for a good hunting trip to the lake of your choice.
Best Floating Duck Decoy:
Dakota Decoys X-Treme Pintail Floaters
What Recent Buyers Report
People say that they hold up in case of durability, with them having used them even in icy weather. They add a good custom look to a spread and have a realism to them that is unmatched on the market. Customers highly recommend others to use them to find out for themselves that they are not bluffing.
Why it Stands Out to Us
The innovative pintails make them stand out. They are hyper-realistic and something that has never been seen on the market. They have been carved just like how the rest of the body has been carved and then are painted on to the highest of standards. This makes them a great decoy for pintail ducks and makes sure that they fool even the most careful of them.
To sum up, this is a great decoy that tricks even the weariest of ducks into coming closer. It is highly realistic and durable because of its construction with a detailed pintail design that makes them innovative in the decoy market.
Duck Hunting Decoy Tips, Tricks, and Hacks For Success
Below we have some tips, tricks, and hacks that will come in handy for seasoned and beginner-level duck hunters.
Most Expensive is Not Always The Best
People really still believe that everything of good quality comes at a high price, but that is not true. Often, the most expensive thing is all about the hype, not the quality. You may need to search a little for a reasonably priced yet good quality decoy, but it will be worth it.
It should not matter if you buy an expensive or a lower range priced decoy, the important thing is if it will be able to last you for a long time.
Durability is key for duck decoy hunting, as you want to get something that will last you for years and will be able to hold its own in all kinds of weather conditions, especially chilly ones. No one wants to buy a product that will go bad after just a few uses and will need to be replaced. Do your research before buying anything.
Realistic Design and Balance
The decoy should be as realistic as possible because we want other ducks to be fooled by it and come close enough to check it out. Also, the decoy should maintain its balance and float when placed in the water, and not tip over or fall to the side, meaning it should have a good keel to balance itself.
There are many options on the market, including more basic and reliable technology as well as battery operated or remote controlled ducks. Realism via painting is unparalleled in this market, and some even are weighted or positioned to mimic the movements of ducks in the water. There is a good choice for every hunter, depending on the perspective use regarding weather, water, and trip length.
People Also Ask
When using these, people often still have questions. Here are a few of the most commonly asked.
Are Duck Decoys Valuable?
It depends really on the type of decoy, its age, material, the rarity of the breed it is modeled after, etc. A lot of factors come into play. The market consists of all kinds of decoys, ranging from a few dollars to thousands of dollars. Some old and rare ones have been priced up to a quarter of a million dollars in auctions.
How Are Duck Decoys Made?
Duck decoys can be made of a range of materials, including wood, plastic, foam, etc. Wooden duck decoys are carved out of a long piece of wood, which is then painted upon. Those made out of plastic can be filled with foam to make them durable, and then the outside is painted upon to give the look of a real duck.
How Much Are Duck Decoys?
Duck decoy prices can range from a few dollars to a few thousand dollars easily. Depending on the type of material, species, condition, rarity, etc., it can even be highly valuable. The price can range from $1.35 to $856,000, which is the price of the most expensive duck decoy to date sold at a joint auction by Guyette & Deeter and Christie's in 2007.
Why Are Duck Decoys so Expensive?
Not all of them are expensive. It just depends on a few factors, including things like manufacturer, region, species, condition, rarity, size, material, etc. that make a duck decoy valuable or expensive. Based on these factors, there is a whole range of decoys out there from cheapest to most expensive.
How Many Duck Decoys Should I Use?
It all depends on the conditions you are hunting in. In smaller, shallower, or confined waters, a spread of 6 to 36 decoys is recommended. In larger or harsher waters and dry fields, it is recommended to put out as many decoys as possible. Using too many has never scared off any ducks before, so the more, the merrier.
How Do You Rig Duck Decoys?
A hunter must consider different factors before rigging their decoys. These include the type of line, style and weight of anchors, depth of water, content at the bottom, wind exposure, conditions, and if the decoys will be picked up after each hunt or if they will be left out indefinitely.
In case of nylon lines and lead weights, some experts recommend wrapping the line across the decoy's back, then under the tail, and around the neck in a crisscross pattern, and then wrapping the strap weight around the decoy's neck. This is the old-school method.
A more modern approach involves an L-shaped lead weight and PVC line with a length of rubber tubing. Wrap the line around the decoy's keel, which stretches the rubber section until the L-shaped weight can be hooked around the keel.
Does a Duck Decoy's Size Matter?
Duck decoys are available in three main size categories, standard, Magnus, and super Magnus. It is obvious that a bigger decoy will be easier to spot, but it will also be heavier and harder to carry around.
Ducks are fine and do not need a decoy that is twice their size to know that it is there. It should not be super small either, but a size close to or slightly bigger than the actual duck is recommended. Also, the sizes differ depending on the species.
How Long Should Duck Decoy Lines Be?
It depends on the different kinds of decoys you may use. For example, line length for puddle-duck decoys should be four to six feet, while for diver-decoys, it should be eight to twenty feet. It also depends on the type of waters or conditions you are using them in.
Can You Mix Mallard and Wood Duck Decoys?
Yes, you can mix mallard and wood duck decoys. A spread can consist of different types of ducks, but it should not be ragtag. Some species can be put together while doing it with some will literally lead to a battle. So do your research about the ones that will work great together and look the most natural. After all, with a spread, you are trying to mimic nature.
How Heavy Should Decoy Weights Be?
Different weights are preferred for different conditions. For example, a four-ounce weight is perfect for hunting in conditions that offer a cover, such as timber or rice fields. But in open water, heavier weights of six or eight ounces are preferable as that is a larger area, and the conditions could be harsher.
How Do You Restore Duck Decoys?
Experts usually drill holes in the decoy area that contains water and hang them upside down to dry, after which they seal the holes with some sort of strong glue like an epoxy sealant.
If the decoys are in need of cleaning, it is recommended that you wash them only with water, not soap, as it has chemicals that make their color fade and look unnatural. However, you can use products such as Armor All for colorful areas such as a mallard’s head.
For touch-ups, there are paint kits available with the right colors and instructions.
How Do You Tie Weights to Duck Decoys?
People usually tie weights using different rigging lines of varying lengths, depending on the type of waters they may be hunting in. The most common ones are nylon or PVC lines and lead weights, which are tied to the decoy using slipknots. For added strength, a simple overhand knot is added on both ends of the line before tying the slipknots.
How Long Do Decoys Last?
The answer to this question depends on the use and care of them. When cared for properly, a quality decoy can last many years, although wear and tear are inevitable in the field. Regular cleaning, proper storage, and of course battery alternation in the more mechanical models will help your decoys last. Also, choosing one made with the most durable materials for your circumstance will aid in its longevity.
Why Does Keel Matter?
A keel helps them to ride smoothly and realistically in waters. Some are weighted for use in more rough waters, and others take into account where the weight sits for the most accurate movement of the bird. This is generally also where the line is attached if your model is more old school.
What Are Other Uses For Decoys?
Other than attracting ducks to your waters, a duck decoy has many other uses. The classic models can be a type of decor or collector's item when not in traditional use. Different types of bird decoys can be used to either attract or repel types of fowl depending on their natural relationships. They can also function as a type of scarecrow for the water on your property, causing their typical prey to scatter.
There are some simple, yet very effective, ways to carry all of those duck decoys you'll need when hunting. Where you are hunting and type and size of your decoys will help determine the best method to use to transport them.
What most duck hunters do is use some type of "case" which is carried. By "case," we're not talking about some heavy duty piece of luggage. On the market are many different types of mesh carrying bags -- different styles -- different sizes -- different manufacturers. These mesh bags have elastic tie-down straps which can be tightened to the right torque for carrying, depending on how many decoys you've got. Most of these mesh bags have two backpack type straps which means a hunter can put them on his/her back, and keep hands free for carrying other equipment, like a shotgun. And, depending on the size of the decoys and the bag, you can fit anywhere from six to maybe 20 decoys in a bag.
The nice thing about decoy bags is that you can separate specific decoys for specific species -- mallards, wood ducks, bluebills -- whatever. So it's easy to organize things. You can also determine which bag will hold solid decoys, roll ups, magnums, or regular size. And, don't kid yourself -- all of this "organization" makes things a lot easier --before and after the hunt. Beforehand, you're anxious, you're in a hurry to get set up and hunt -- you don't want to play around. Having specific decoys and/or sizes in distinct and separated bags will help you get the decoys set up far more quickly and easily.
No searching. No muttering to yourself, and no glares from others in your party. And then when you're done hunting, you're tired, you're cold, you're hungry -- and you want to get out of there as soon as possible. So you pick up your decoys and again organize them so you're all set for the next hunt, without a lot of sorting and all of that wasted-time-and-effort stuff. The mesh bags allow the water to drain; and just make sure, when you retrieve your decoys, that you at least clean off of any sludge or algae and other plant residue before putting them in the bag.
The decoy mesh bags are not real expensive -- indeed, there are manufacturers and retailers who will often provide a "free" mesh bag when you purchase a decoy -- but they may not be exactly what you need. Just remember: "Free is good," but you'll still want to have enough bags to insure that you're well organized and that the decoys will "fit" properly.
Now here's a real good money saving tip from guide Phil Schweik, for those of us who prefer to save EVERY dime we can! Phil's super-talented wife, Rhonda (one of the greatest hunters and anglers we've ever known) simply takes a burlap bag, affixes some straps, and sews it to proper dimensions and accessibility. Phil says they work beautifully, and are both strong and light. Cost? A trip to a local grocer or farmers market for some FREE potato burlap bags, and a few shekels for strapping materials. Happy hunting and decoy "schlepping."
Proper Duck Decoy Placement
One of the key tools for hunting ducks is proper decoy placement. Proper blind placement is necessary. Proper DECOY placement is imperative!
The very first thing that an experienced duck hunter considers is wind direction. Like an airplane, ducks land or take off into the wind. You will want to set up your decoys in a pattern that is conducive to forcing the ducks to land into the wind towards where you are in your blind; and that it is set up so that they're coming directly towards you into shooting range. This type of set-up, when executed properly, will provide the very best shot possibility you can have.
There are several different tried and tested "patterns" that duck hunters use when setting out decoys. There's a J-Hook pattern, a V pattern, several different types of flock patterns, and a pocket pattern. The hoped-for result when using any decoy pattern is to insure that the ducks, when landing, will do so in the open pockets or slots between your decoys. And, typically, the ducks are gong to land like on a runway on an airfield. You want to set up the decoys far enough away so that ducks come over them and land in the slots between them. That also means you want to make sure that when the ducks are landing they're within optimum shooting range from your blind. All decoys are set up to insure that the ducks will land where you want them to -- near enough to your blind for a perfect shot, if possible.
One of guide Phil Schweik's favorite decoys (he says it works unfailingly) is called a Mojo Duck (no one is specifically endorsing any brand here -- there are a number of similar decoys to the Mojo Duck and it is cited as just one example, as it is well known). Unlike decoys that float in the water, the Mojo Duck is elevated on a stake, and is battery operated. It's wings spin around and around, and look like a duck landing, or like a duck fluttering its wings as they often do on the surface of water.
wElevated decoys like the Mojo Duck are very lifelike and really do increase the percentage of a successful hunt. They are very visually attractive to ducks. And while floating decoys may blend in to the water because of lighting conditions, Mojo Duck type decoys stand out, because there's movement, and this is also good because it takes the ducks' focus off of your blind and you, and directs it to the decoy. And yes, Mojo Duck decoys can be somewhat expensive. What some hunting buddies or clubs do is pool resources and "group buy." That's good for everyone and no one is hurt by a big expense.
Now, if this all sounds complex, don't be frightened away by it. Duck hunting is a wonderful, fun sport. And don't worry about seeing all of those "fancy Dans" with their custom-made shotguns and their expensive boots and clothing, talking about their next country club get-together. You can do just as well -- even better -- just by using good, basic equipment, and "listening to your elders" -- in this case experienced duck hunters. Go out. Learn. Miss a few, and go from there. Sooner than later, YOU'LL be the one that will be the "elder" others are listening to.
The Proper Use of Duck Decoys
According to guide Phil Schweik, duck hunting is not usually a sport for the uninitiated hunter. Yes, someone can go out and puddle jump ducks and get their share, but to be consistent in getting flowage, reservoir, or big, open-water ducks, you've got to be proficient in a number of techniques, including "calling," decoy location, and concealment. We'll be discussing each subject in separate articles. Today we're going to talk about the proper use of duck calling.
Duck calling requires proper "technique" and knowledge. No one should sit and aimlessly "babble" with calls, and expect ducks to come in. Ducks are used to hearing other ducks! So if you expect that ducks will come in if you do some squawking with any type of call, you're going to be sorely disappointed.
There are any number of different types of calls. Ducks are always at different distances -- they're flying by, they're far out, they're coming in. Nothing is static. When you have ducks that fly by you, and they have seen your decoys, that is the time to use an "attractant" call, or a feeding-type call. If they've landed on the water, outside your decoys or gun range, you may want to use a feeding call or "come-on-over-all-your-buddies-are-here" type call. All calls are different. Different sounds, different calls for different species... mallards, pintails, wood ducks – whatever. They're all different, and there is never any set scenario to follow. You need to get "educated." There are three ways to do that:
- Get a video/DVD/CD and watch it. There are companies and individuals who deal in these things, and you can watch and watch and watch again, and then do some practicing, until you get the hang of it.
- You can physically get out with someone who knows what they're doing, and who will teach you what to do. It takes more than one "lesson." Patience is needed. You're not going to become an expert caller after one outing.
- Phil Schweik's favorite is to simply listen to the ducks and imitate their sounds. That can take years to master.
- Best suggestion is to use the three methods in conjunction with other. It'll take time, but it'll be worth it.
Schweik says the most common mistake is that hunters call too much. Once you make that first call the ducks know where you are, as they will surely hear you. Keep squawking and they're going to fly right by. Make one or two calls and then hunker down and wait. Ducks may fly by even up to a mile from where you are, and you start swearing to yourself about missing them – and then, voila - -suddenly they bank and come back.
They may make two or three passes and then decide to land. If the ducks fly by and seem interested, but don't land, that's the time to make a subtle, quiet call -- like a feeding call or a "coaxing" call telling them to join their buddies (the decoys). What happens often, is that as the season progresses, the ducks become more and more cautious, and they will make numerous passes to determine whether it's safe to land. Once they feel safe, cup their wings, and get ready to land, they'll float right in, and that's the time you jump up and shout: "Take 'em!" Phil Schweik prefers shooting while the ducks are still in the air, as he deems this method "more sporting." Some hunters will fire when the ducks land.
It must be said that no matter how hard you work, or how good you are, things don't always work out. Sometimes the ducks will simply not land, or will fly by with impunity. Just chalk it up to experience, and wait for the next group. Be happy to know that there's always a "next group."