Duck Hunting? Remember These Tips from the Pros
Useful tactics should be used, especially when they enhance a duck hunt. Waterfowl hunting embraces a gamut of strategies—new, old, borrowed and even downright lethal—to get a worthwhile experience of harvesting ducks. Here are some tips from pros of duck hunting:
Use a camouflage cord.
Of course, nothing beats using natural vegetation for concealment in this sport. To place natural camouflage materials on your boat, you can use a stretch cord, which you can use to line your boat’s sides, stern and bow, using penny nails, screws or pop rivets to secure it in place. Weave vegetation, such as bulrushes, cattails or cornstalks between the cords to conceal your boat’s outline. If done properly, this concealment would remain in place throughout the duck hunting season.
Fight the ice.
One effective late-season duck hunting strategy is creating open water holes in frozen marshes and lakes. Possibly, you can break ice into large solid sheets that can be pushed neatly under the surrounding ice, creating a clear, open hole. However, there are instances where the ice is too thin to break up into solid chunks and shatters into numerous smaller pieces, which would look unnatural to the birds, so an easy solution to this is bringing along a large landing net, which you can use to sweep the water surface after you break the ice, until you have picked up the floating pieces. If the ice is too thick to easily break into sheets, you can use a heavy maul or axe to break open a hole. On bitter cold days, it is good to kick new water onto the ice at certain periods throughout your duck hunting.
Ducks frequently migrate during or slightly behind cold fronts, so they can take advantage of the strong tail winds. If the migration days are good, do not leave the blind early, as the best duck hunting opportunities often occur late in the morning, when many flocks would stop to take a rest
Though most duck hunters hunt with their decoys set in front of them and the wind at their backs, this strategy has many drawbacks, like ducks approaching the decoys looking directly into the blind and ducks quickly flaring downwind from you after taking the first shot, making follow-up shots more difficult. Alternatively, you can position your spread so that ducks will decoy at a crossing angle to your blind, making it much less conspicuous to decoying ducks, with the birds forced to cross in front of you while falring downwind from shooting.
Always clean your call.
Without regular cleaning, your duck call would accumulate all sorts of particles, including dirt, food, dead vegetation and tobacco. To keep it in good working condition, clean it! Gently remove the stopper from the barrel and place both the stopper and barrel in a bowl or coffee cup to soak for about 30 minutes in a mixture of water and mild soap. After removing them from the solution, rinse well under the tap and set aside to dry. Then, using a dollar bill or dental floss, gently clear any stubborn particles that may remain between the reeds. Reassemble your call, and it is good to go for duck hunting!
Take a calm approach.
Remember that nothing spooks late-season ducks more than stationary decoys that are sitting in an open hole. On calm days, you can throw most of your decoys back in the brushy cover and call to bring in the ducks.
Remember that patience really pays off.
Waterfowlers often commit the mistake of flushing large numbers of ducks off a roost during dark before dawn. When these birds are alone, they would often fly out to feed at the first light and then filter back to the roost later in the morning. So, instead of spooking them in the dark, you can wait until sunrise before setting up. Though you might miss out on the early hunt, you might have better duck hunting all in all, as the ducks will provide more shooting opportunities when returning in smaller groups in the morning.
Use a line guide.
Truth be told, only a very few decoy manufacturers have successfully solved the problem of adjusting decoy lines for different variable water depths. Fortunately, you can address this issue by attaching a metal shower curtain ring on the keels of your decoys. As an alternative, you can use large fishing swivels for the same function. When setting up your decoys, simply unwrap the line off your keel to a desired depth,
open the curtain ring and place the line inside the ring, then snap it shut. This technique prevents any more lines needed from coming off your keel.
Though waterfowlers can almost completely vanish in snowy marshes and fields by wearing a white jacket and other gear, it is equally important to camouflage your shotgun while duck hunting in these conditions, as it will become more visible to these birds against a white background, especially on a sunny day. A cheap and inexpensive way to conceal it is wrapping it in white medical gauze. First, secure the gauze to the barrel’s end with a clear packing tape and start wrapping it around the barrel, overlapping about half way each time. If you are using an autoloader, then continue wrapping over the forearm down to the receiver. Then, cut off the gauze and secure it to the forearm’s base with clear tape. In similar manner, cover the stock by starting at the grip and wrapping to the recoil pad. By doing so, the only exposed area of your shotgun will be its receiver.
Use wood duck boxes.
Setting up wood duck boxes is a very good way to boost local waterfowl populations, but they are difficult to nail to trees. To make the task easier, just tie these boxes onto trees with the use of plastic-coated laundry line. Simply drill a few extra holes on their backs and thread them with lines, which will not hurt the trees, unlike screws and nails. Moreover, it will be much easier to remove and relocate boxes that you unsuccessfully installed.