Dive Into Duck Hunting

Bag your first fowl with our expert’s advice for getting started hunting ducks.


| November / December 2017



hunting

Couple of waterfowl hunting buddies heading out of wetlands.

Photo by Russell A. Graves

Cold winter mornings with fog casting over the water, your dog and decoys in tow. These are memories I cherish from my years of hunting ducks.

Last winter, my wife, a good friend of mine, and I headed to a farm pond we recently acquired permission to hunt. It was dark and cold, and we relied on a headlamp to throw our decoy spread out into the water. The dog was just as anxious as we were, and the anticipation of that first flock of mallards was almost more than we could bear. Once the sun started to peak the horizon, the game was on. Flock after flock fluttered down into our decoys. There really is nothing quite like ducks “locked up” coming into a spread of decoys. Not long after, we were all smiles with a limit of greenheads slung over our shoulders.

Hunting ducks can be as exhilarating as chasing a trophy-class whitetail. Yet unlike deer hunting, which is typically done solo, duck hunting is full of friends and camaraderie. Although gear can make a dent in your pocketbook, you can start small in the beginning and still be successful, and it will get you on your way to many more years of hunting ducks. With a few of these tips, you too will become a proficient duck hunter.

Where the ducks are

The first and most important tip we will talk about is scouting. Just as it goes for any other type of hunting, scouting is very important. Yet unlike scouting for deer, turkey or other species, ducks spend a lot of time in the air and flying about. To be successful, be prepared to spend a lot of time behind the wheel. The more ground you can cover the better — don’t be afraid to venture out to search for ducks even out to an hour or more away from home. If you want to be successful, sometimes you have to search for them like a needle in a hay stack. I typically spend twice as much time scouting as hunting. Bring along a decent pair of binoculars on your scouting adventures.

Ducks, like humans, are creatures of habit. They will do the same thing day in and day out, as long as they are not disturbed or their food source hasn’t run out.

There are three things I like to look for when scouting ducks. (1) Where are they roosting? Ducks roost on water, and that could mean a large farm pond, lake, or even sometimes a river. They go back to the same spot each night to roost, typically right before dark. This is important to note because you want to leave these areas undisturbed so they have a safe place to rest. (2) Where do they feed? These spots can be found in the early morning or in the later afternoon. Depending on where you live, they can be found on a number of different crop fields such as corn, beans, wheat, or even a marshy area that holds some type of food source. Once it is light enough to see, ducks will leave their roost and head to these areas to feed. Typically they are in close proximity to where they roost.





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