Robo Duck which has a stainless steel prop encased in a wire basket can handle rough water, Faber said, adding that its inner case is completely waterproof. ''You could, if you wish, easily remove the duck part and replace it with whatever you wanted. .

The waterfowling equipment catalogue put out by the decoy's distributor, Outdoorsmen's Herter's, shows no temerity in describing its capabilities: ''Robo Duck is the most efficient retriever available. No training or handling fees, medication, shots, or cleaning the kennel. . . . performs like a champion. You will never again flare incoming ducks. Robo Duck's top speed 10 miles an hour far exceeds that of any surface paddling duck, let alone one that has been wounded.

Robo Duck will not quiver with excitement when you pick up your shotgun, nor will it press against you on the front seat of your pickup on the drive home, but when its motor fails you will not once again lament that you have outlived yet another companion.

WHEN waterfowlers daydream of their sport, they see birds wheeling through dark November skies or pitching down into decoys before a cattail covered blind in a salt marsh. And a keen eyed, ever eager retriever, whether a Chesapeake or Labrador or some less specialized breed, is always with them. Even when nothing is bagged, some sweet juices can be injected into the story of the day's endeavor with mention of how old Tober retrieved a decoy that had broken loose from its mooring. Or perhaps of the post hunt rapport in front of a blazing hearth, the man with his tot of bourbon, the dozing dog with a full belly, twitching and whimpering in an ecstatic dream of the chase.

''After a couple of passes, I was able to handle a retrieve from any direction. .

Canada Goose Manitoba Jacket Ireland Online

Canada Goose Manitoba Jacket Ireland Online

Robo Duck's speed and range lead one to speculate that if its use became widespread, regulations they already exist for waterfowlers in boats might be needed to prohibit hunters from breaking up dozing rafts of birds on bluebird days. One suspects that waterfowl confronted with a monster duck rushing toward them at 10 miles an hour would either take wing or allow themselves to be herded toward the guns.

Robo Duck cannot, of course, retrieve a bird on land, sniff out one that has crept into the tules on the water's edge, spot distant flying birds that are beyond human eyesight, or regard you with disfavor when nothing falls after your shot. Nor can it, as my son's black Labrador bitch did a few season's ago, bring back a wounded Canada goose that sailed far out over a mist shrouded salt pond covered with rotten ice. Long after the bird was invisible to my son and me, the dog watched it descend, then lunged into the murk returning in triumph 10 minutes later.

The use of live decoys for waterfowling was once commonplace, the most sophisticated example of this being the young, or ''flyer'' Canada geese that were raised in captivity with their parents and sent winging out over bay, ocean or sound to lure wild birds back to the waiting guns. Live decoys have long been outlawed. Since then, decoys that dip up and down as if feeding or flap their wings, have been devised, but Robo Duck is a new concept.

The effectiveness of a few magnum, or oversized, birds in a decoy rig has long been recognized, and Robo Duck certainly so qualifies. Robo Duck is placed among the decoys, and held in position by closing its wire fingers around a small, anchored float. When a bird is downed, the hunter using the remote control panel from his blind opens those fingers and sends Robo Duck on its quest, returning it to the float when the mission is completed.

Wishing to learn more about Robo Duck, I called Herter's Dennis Faber, who ran Robo Duck through its paces before advertising it. (Many readers will feel a twinge of nostalgia at seeing the Herter name. For many years, Herter's of Waseca, Minn., produced a huge catalogue filled with reasonably priced and often first rate gear for the outdoorsman. Box 518, Beaver Dam, Wis.; the telphone number is 1 800 654 3825 later acquired, among other things, the Herter name, waterfowl decoy molds and manufacturing equipment.) Faber tested Robo Duck this spring in a mile long lake in front of his home, using plastic milk containers half filled with water as substitutes for downed birds.

He Canada Goose Manitoba Jacket Ireland Online added that the ''basket'' created by the closed steel fingers gripped the container tightly.

´╗┐Automatic Duck Adds Touch to Retrieving

The seriousness of Robo Duck's challenge to that cozy tradition is difficult to assess. Robo Duck, priced at $1,250, is a battery powered, propeller driven, electronically controlled 15 pound decoy nearly three feet long that can lure and retrieve waterfowl.

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''It's great,'' Faber said. ''I would bring the container to shore, open the fingers to release it, then throw Robo Duck in reverse to go back out after another one.''