Just a Gull, Part One

Here's how to make a herring gull so realistic, it might even steal your lunch.

By: Text and photography by Del Herbert

Everyone enjoys seeing gulls soaring overhead, especially near our beaches. Gulls have learned to coexist with humans, so getting up close and personal with them is not a problem. Frequently they will pose for photos along the railings of fishing piers or any of their other hangouts.

Gulls are surface-fishing birds and scavengers. They have taken the latter to an art form. Trash cans and dumps now provide a major food source. If you leave open snacks on your beach towel, you will soon have some new friends, and they won’t take no for an answer.

An acquaintance of mine, who is the next thing to a rabid ornithologist, vehemently maintains that there is no such thing as a seagull. “They are gulls, period,” he says. Once, after breakfast, I repeated this old joke in his presence. “If a gull flies over the ocean it is called a seagull. Then, if it flies over the bay, is it a bay gull?” (Say it fast.) Needless to say, the conversation turned somber.

Seriously, though, gulls are sometimes used as confidence decoys—birds that the hunters aren’t planning to shoot, but provide a comforting presence in a rig for ducks to see. In this article I’ll cover a herring gull decoy that I will paint as a smoothie. If so desired, you could float your bird and enter it in competition as an IWCA-style or contemporary decoy.


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