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27 Duck Hunting Tips for This Season

  • August 19, 2016 /

MallardWith the onset of the duck hunting season, it is important to know how to approach your mission. A flock of ducks is an interesting sight for a duck hunter, but you can easily blow away the opportunity with an ineffective strategy. Learn the top duck hunting tips, tricks and strategies. After that, you can get your tools of trade out for a successful outing.

1. Plan Adequately

Planning sounds like obvious, yet numerous hunters fail to prepare well. For example, know the direction in which the wind is blowing. Your local weather forecast will give you this information. This is necessary in selecting and setting up your decoy.

In addition, spend enough time scouting the ducks’ habitat to be sure where they land. It might be difficult to scout in expansive areas. Luckily for you, the Internet has made things easier. Just visit your favorite mapping website so you can scout remotely.

2. Prepare Your Hunting Gun

Shotgun loads are usually very particular. Therefore, buy ammunition that will actually match your gun. In addition, pattern it well before setting out. While scouting, test the leads at various distances to ensure that the gun actually opens appropriately at various distances.

Try different loads to know which one works perfectly. Your dog is usually part of your hunting gear. Just like preparing the gun, prepare the retriever as well. Even if he is well trained, work him out several times before the actual hunting day.

3. Check Your Hunting Gear

The greatest trick to successful duck hunting is ensuring that the gear is actually functioning. The last thing you want is to discover your decoys are dysfunctional just when you have spotted a suitable kill.

Prepare all the equipment and tools of trade a week prior the hunting date. Ensure your cords and weights are in their best shape. Will you use a motor boat? Ensure that the engine, battery and other components are clean and functional.

4. Remove Shine From Your Gear

Duck will see any shiny surfaces on your gun, decoys, boat, blind and other gear. This will only scare them away. Inspect all these during the preparation stages and clean off any shiny portions. Remember that these waterfowl are sharp-eyed. A small error can easily cause them to land elsewhere. Use brown or black matte paint and repeatedly touch any shiny parts.

5. Setting Up Your Decoys

There might not be a universal code of practice as far as setting up decoy is concerned. However, a sure way of doing this is the “J” or “U” pattern. Whatever pattern you prefer, let your decision be informed by the direction of the wind.

6. If Setup Is Not Working, Change It

Attaining the most functional setup can be difficult. Therefore, do not stick with the same plan if it is not effective. For example, change the setup if the ducks are landing too far away. Feel free to reset your decoys even if that means breaking cover. In addition, readjust your camouflage or move your blind to a more realistic position.

7. Hunt With an Experienced Team

A team of friends is ideal to work with while duck hunting. However, let the person calling the shots be an expert at that. The last thing you want is someone to shout “Fire” at the inappropriate time.

Two Mallards Swimming8. Do Not Overcall

Calling here refers to the strategies that you use to attract the birds. Calling too aggressively will cause the ducks to panic. If you are unsure of the right way, call a little less. You will realize that your calling skills improve with experience. Otherwise, let an experienced person do the calling on your behalf.

9. Camouflage Well

Any camouflage you use on your attire and gear should match the look of the environment. This is why scouting appropriately is important. Use weeds, grass, reeds and other foliage to camouflage your boat, gun and other shooting apparatus.

10. Break Ice to Create Visible Water

Ducks and other waterfowl usually will not be attracted to swim in ice. Therefore, separate the ice carefully to expose visible water in which ducks can swim. Sometimes, the ice is so thin that it will not break into large pieces. Instead, it will shatter into very tiny parts. Not only does this look unnatural in the eyes of the ducks, it causes them to flee.

To solve this problem, use a net to hold all the small ice fragments and pull them aside. Camouflage yourself and your gear in anticipation of the fowls to swim in the just created open water hole.

11. Time Your Hunting Well

Usually, waterfowl migrate with or just behind cold fronts because they want to capitalize on the strong tail winds. During these seasons, do not leave your blind too early. Since many migrating ducks stop to rest during the late morning hours, this might be an ideal hunting time.

12. Approach the Ducks Calmly

As mentioned before, ducks and other waterfowl will be distracted by the slightest movements. Therefore, move your camouflaged hunting gear slowly yet surely. In addition, stationary decoys will raise the attention of your targets, as the sight is unnatural.

When it is calm, throw your decoys in a thick cover then rely on calling alone to bring the ducks close. Usually, circling ducks will throw a brief glimpse of your decoys and then go back to work. They then approach your target area.

13. Position the Hunting Angle Well

Traditionally, most waterfowl hunters set their decoys in front while the wind is at their backs. This approach may be effective at times. However, it may not always be efficient. When ducks approach your decoys, they are directly facing the blind.

Therefore, they can easily detect movement from other hunters and dogs. There is another disadvantage. When shooting, ducks will rapidly flair down after the first shot. This makes follow-up shot even difficult.

To solve this problem, try alternating the position of your decoys and blinds. Place your spreads in apposition that ducks will actually decoy at a crossing slant. This strategy is ideal for making your blinds less conspicuous. In addition, this arrangement forces the ducks to cross just in front of your blind for a second time as they flair downwind.

14. Make Your Loads easy to Read

If you carry both duck and goose loads to your hunting ground, you can easily confuse one for the other. Even the printed information on the plastic cartridges may become blurred. As you handle these repeatedly, the printing usually becomes blurred. In addition, it can wear off such that you cannot tell the size of the shot in the shells.

To solve this problem, consider using a black magic marker. Write clearly the shot size on the brass casting’s head. Ensure you write on all shells to avoid confusion. This will help you in distinguishing and identifying the duck and goose loads in your hunting vest.

15. Clean Your Duck Call Regularly

Due to repeated handling your duck call can attract all sorts of dirt, making it ineffective things like food, cigarette fragments, dust and dead vegetation should be cleaned regularly before and after the hunting outing. To clean, remove the stopper gently from your call’s barrel by holding the reed assembly properly.

Put the barrel and its stopper in a shallow cup and soak them for 30 minutes. Use clear water with a little mild soap. Remove the barrel and stopper from the soapy water and rinse them under running water.

After that, keep them in warm area to dry naturally. If there are stubborn stains between the reeds, use ordinary dental floss to clean these. Some people a dollar bill! When the call components are clean and dry, reassemble the equipment appropriately.

16. Practice Patience

Numerous waterfowl hunters make the mistake of flushing flocks of ducks in the dark. The prospect of hunting many of these at a go usually makes people impatient. When the first light of dawn strikes their habitat, the flocks of ducks will fly out to feed. They will only go back to roost in the late morning.

Instead of spooking your targets in the dark, you may consider being a little more patient. Wait for sunrise or a later time to try your luck. This waiting might actually cause you to miss out o early shooting. However, being patient is more realistic as far as the overall hunting objective is concerned.

17. Conduct Wind Check During Duck Hunting

To position blinds and decoys in the most correct position, learn the direction of the wind. Even if you checked the direction during the preparation stage, it is essential to check it again just before making a kill. This is because the direction of the wind can change various times during the day.

Here is a little secret in determining the direction of the wind. Carry a small bottle filled with talcum powder. Press the bottle slightly to eject a small amount of powder and then watch the direction it follows.

18. Improvise a Line Guide

Unfortunately, most manufacturers of hunting decoys have not addressed the problem of adjusting a decoy line to suit various water depths. You can solve this issue by attaching a shower curtain ring on your decoy keels.

At the same time, use large fishing swivels for the purpose of improvising a line guide. To adjust the decoy for a different water depth, unwrap the line from the keels to achieve the desired depth and then open the shower curtain ring. After that, position the line inside the ring and snap it to shut.

Duck19. Paint Camouflage Patterns

It is usually prudent to paint camouflage patterns using a stencil. Use dry-erase poster boards, as these are easily available in your local art and craft store. Place natural cover materials such as branches, leaves and reeds on the boards. Trace their shape using a magic marker. After that, cut the outlines so that you are lefts with stencils.

The next step is painting. To make a visually impressive design, place the poster board on the surface of your boat and then spray paint over the stencils. Create a highly effective camouflage by overlapping various shapes.

20. Camouflage Your Gun

You can almost entirely disappear in the field and snow-covered portions of the duck hunting area. Wearing printed jackets, gloves, hats and masks will make camouflage possible. However, it is also important to camouflage your gun.

When it is sunny, your gun becomes shiny and is easily observable by birds and other waterfowl. If you are hunting in the white snow, use a white medical gauze and wrap it around the gun. You should go to any extent as far as camouflaging yourself and equipment is concerned.

21. Fake a Water Hole

You might not always find hunting easy on all water holes. Therefore, it is prudent to create an artificial one using improvisation. Find a large sheet of plastic and cut irregular shapes in it. Doing this trick mimics the shallow water depressions that ducks love to spend time in.

Place the cut sheet of plastic on a depression and remove large stalks or weeds. Place a few weeds around the plastic sheet to make the area look like a natural water hole where some parts of the water are frozen. From the air, birds will fall for your trap so be ready for the kill.

22. Be a Naturalist

Numerous waterfowl hunters spend a lot of time hunting ducks and making mistakes while at it. They believe that practice makes perfect and that they will soon know the right strategies. If you are one of them, it is time to overhaul your hunting approaches. Just like expert fishermen spend time observing their targeted kills, spend some time watching the habits of ducks.

Watching these helps you identify their movement patterns, feeding and playing behaviors. As you understand how and why they do this you will know the right hunting grounds. For example, learn what they eat and where it is available in your area. Take note of how they shift from eating small water creatures to grains and seeds.

When you become an expert naturalists, you will even predict when ducks will change their habitat. Learn how they breed do that you tailor your decoys and calling approaches appropriately.

23. Use Exactly Matching Decoys

Numerous hunters like to use mallard decoys because these are cheaper and easier to find than most other decoys. However, using a mallard decoy in an area or season where few mallards actually exist is wrong. Since ducks have great sense of sight, they will know when the situation looks fake or unnatural. Whatever decoys you use, let them look as real and as natural as possible.

24. Conceal Your Cover

It is possible to shoot numerous ducks with little effort. These ducks are often referred to as new ducks. However, new ducks become stale with very fast, thanks to their combination of senses and survival tactics. Stale ducks can spot flaws in your concealment and decoy very easily.

Since you are not always going to hunt new ducks, go an extra mile in concealment. Check for flaws that may set you up against your targets. Use face paint, full-body camouflage and keep the lowest profile possible.

25. Be a Shotgun Enthusiast

Using a shotgun involves more than just taking an aim and firing using a handgun or a rifle. Therefore, learn the basic and advanced skills of using a shotgun. For example, maneuver a moving pattern in the same area as your moving target. Time the shot so well that the load will end up at the same spot with the fowl. The secret here is to move the shot with both eyes wide open and imagining the movement of the duck.

26. Learn When to Call

Duck hunting requires a combination of skills and expertise. For example, when to call is more important than how to call. Start with learning how to call ducks and then advance to the more complex skill of learning the appropriate time to call.

You will be surprised to discover that not all ducks makes the same sound. While some make high and squeaky sounds, others have raspy and low tones. While some make a 5-note sound, others make 8 notes at a go.

A good caller does his trick just when the birds are about to go away. The time in which they appear to leave the area is called ‘on the corners’. Making a good 5-note call will attract some, if not all of the birds back. When one turns around to approach you, he will bring the rest along. Avoid the temptation to overcall. Instead, make a single yet effective call.

27. Pay Attention To Tiny Details

Sometime, the smallest things when duck hunting can make or break your hunting expedition. Therefore, check and recheck everything carefully. Change the set up when the sun moves, because your shadow will be visible from the sky.

If you find it difficult to take down a single duck from a large flock, reexamine your approach. Do not imagine the next bunch of waterfowl will be easier to fool or cooperate. Most importantly, feel free to bend the rules, experiment and improvise. Within months of duck hunting, you might just perfect your art,