By Jed Fluhrer "GanderGrinder"

With the fall hunting seasons over and the winter months already upon us there is no better way to avoid cabin fever than a midwinter project. If you're like me you are reminiscing over past hunts and looking forward to March and April (or whenever your season runs) when you can pursue the elusive snows, blues and ross geese.

Hunting migrating geese effectively takes big spreads of decoys; often numbering in the thousands. If you're like me a large spread of snow goose decoys is beyond your budget but there are a few ways to stretch your dollar if you're willing to do some of the work yourself. The following is a "how to" on making your own windsock decoys that will look and function as well or better than any factory made windsock decoy. This project is not for the faint of heart as it takes a lot of time and energy but will be well worth it in the end.

The first step in making windsocks is to locate the necessary materials.

1) Tyvek for the body. I ordered mine from Fiber Mark. The smallest quantity available is 100yds long and 60 inches wide. I was able to get 350 finished decoys from this quantity. However any tyvek material can be used as long as it is flexible enough to permit the wind to fill it with air without excess noise. I know people have used lab coats and house wrap to produce windsocks. This step takes the longest in regards to time. There are places out there where you can order just the sewn windsock bodies for between $1.70-2.10/each. There are a lot of small and medium companies that rise and fall in this market, look to the snow goose hunting forum to find out what's current.

2) Plastic banding to hold the neck open. Plastic banding is available from many shipping warehouses and is used to wrap products during shipping. Banding material comes in a variety of sizes but the minimum width should be 3/8". When using stainless steel stakes and grommets, a ½ inch band is the minimum.

3) Stakes I used 3/8" inch wood dowels. Make sure to use good quality hardwood dowels or breakage will occur. Thicker wood dowels could be used or the new stainless steel stakes. I highly recommend stainless steel stakes. All of my new windsocks will be mounted on stainless steel. They can be placed in hard frozen ground easily and will not break. Length of stake is really a personal choice. I prefer 24" stakes because I hunt in corn and tall stubble but many people like 18". In my opinion longer stakes keep the sock off the ground and reduce wear on the body.

4) Bolt retainers I used bolt retainers to mount the body on the stakes. The body rests on one bolt retainer and is prevented from sliding off the top with another. Milk jug tops may also be used. I'm sure there are other methods, be creative.

The first step in producing a windsock body is to build the proper pattern. Since I had 60" wide material I built a windsock that was 23 ½ inches long and 13 inches at the widest point. Using this pattern I could cut two out the long way across the 60" and run one up the side. 23 ½ plus 23 ½ plus 13 equals 60 inches. Cut out the bodies and make sure to cut accurately. Two uniform sides are needed for the windsock body.

Once the bodies have been cut out it is now time to sew them together. Start sewing at the top opening and sew around leaving the top open where the neckband will be placed. When this step is done the two parts should look like a sock with a hole for the wind.

The next step is to role the neck area back to create the area to place the band. If you already own some windsocks it will help to use them as a reference as it is difficult to show these steps in photos.

Sew this area around leaving an opening small enough to slide the band in. I placed the band in after the neck area was sewn and stapled the neckband in place. With the neckband in place turn the windsock inside out so the loose ends are on the inside.

Now the only steps left are to paint and cut the hole for mounting on the stake. Reinforce the hole with duct tape. I used a 3/8" leather punch for cutting the holes in the body. Grommets may also be placed in the windsock for added strength against tears in the body. 3/8" wood dowels will need a ½ inside hole grommet. These can be set by hand or by machine.

To create my stencil I used a piece of masonite. The windsock can be painted as simple or as creative as you like.

I used flat black spray paint from Wal-Mart for all of the snows on the tail feathers. Luckily, snow goose decoys take next to no time. You can take any snow goose decoy and easily convert it to a juvenile snow goose decoy, simply by a couple spray crossovers of gray.

I used flat black, white and gray from Wal-Mart for the blues. It will take a couple layers to complete, so you may want to give each layer a bit of drying time in-between. Don't be afraid to experiment. All blue geese don't look the same, as there's different color phases so your decoys shouldn't all look the same either.

I hope this tutorial was useful and helped simplify the process. This was not an easy project to describe and I'm sure that I left something out of the process. Good luck. All the hard work will be worth it when that first flock of snows glides in feet down.