Over the years, duck hunting has grown to be a highly regarded sport worldwide. It includes a combination of hunting skills, proper equipment, and enduring effort to consistently outwit these challenging game birds.
So, if you are a passionate waterfowlers, in this guide, you will get actionable steps on how to improve your outdoor duck hunting skills and start having hunting success today.
When and where to hunt Ducks
Ducks are known to be active in the early morning, once they move from roosting spots to loafing or feeding areas or after they return to roost late in the evening. Thus, the best time to hunt will be an hour before or after sunrise or an hour before nightfall. However, you should confirm with your local authorities the allowed shooting hours in your area as they vary.
Additionally, ducks are affected by the weather, as they are active during windy or cold days and inactive during warm weather periods. Also, they avoid flying when the wind is light.
With that being said, the best time to schedule your duck hunt will be early or late. You also have a better chance to hunt if the wind blows as the birds will continue to fly throughout the day.
After you’ve established the perfect time to hunt, you now need to know the perfect spot for your hunting. There are many places to duck hunt, all you need to do is scouting. It doesn’t matter how experienced you are or the number of pretty decoys you’ve spread around if there are no ducks around.
To find a great spot, go for a drive with an experienced person and look out for waterways where the ducks are in plenty. One of the ideal places to hunt ducks is in their feeding or loafing places. Another fine spot is on the traffic way as they fly from one area to another. You should avoid, however, hunting the roosts as they will relocate to a different one.
As far as duck hunting equipment goes, here’s what you will need:
- Waders– Preferably chest high waders
- Decoys- A dozen or half-dozen is a good number, to begin with.
- Guns and Shells- 12 gauge chamber with 3-inch magnums and steel shells.
Steps and Tips to Successful Duck Hunting
Duck calling can be very fun and humbling when you do it the right way and brings them in. However, as a beginner, your calling will probably scare them off, something that might make you feel like duck hunting is not your thing. The good this is that it’s never too late, follow this guide to become a more effective duck caller in the field
Step 1: Practice
As the saying goes” practice makes perfect” If you want to become a pro duck caller you need to practice a lot. Duck calling is an art, and you have to know what and when to do, as well as how loud or soft. One of the simplest ways to master the art of duck calling is by watching instructional videos. You can get them free videos on YouTube or also buy tapes at the stores. Such resources will offer you a lot of great tips for improving your calling. But above all, the more you practice, the better you will become.
Step 2: Seek Proper Instruction
The best way to learn to call ducks is to consult an experienced caller. Working with an expert caller can help you develop proper calling skills and avoid some of the pitfalls that many novice callers face.
Apart from the common mallard call in the market, you will also find teal calls, wood duck calls, and even pintail whistles. These different types of calls allow you to tailor your calling depending on the duck species you are hunting. So, get these calls and practice producing realistic vocalizations of different birds.
Step 3: Synchronize your calling
Multiple callers will produce almost triple the notes of a single caller thus increasing the chances of passing birds. Thus, if you are hunting with your friends, learn to work together to synchronize your calling and sound as natural as possible.
Step 4: Enhance your skills in the field
After you’ve mastered the basic calls, practice to perfect them. Go out and learn their calling routines while observing how their calls match their interactions. Duck calling is all about experience, and that’s why you should know what works best in diverse hunting situations. The more you become experienced, the better you’ll be at adjusting your calling to match the duck’s reactions.
Step 5: Don’t overcall
Lastly, duck calling is more of an art than science, thus, you should read how the ducks are responding to your call and making the appropriate adjustments as you continue. With that being said, you should not over call as you will scare them off.
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Decoys are simply fake ducks you place on the hunting field to get your ducks all riled up. There are many different types of decoys that come in different materials such as cork, foam, plastic, and wood. Thus, you need to choose the right one to use and the best way to spread them for a success. Here are some tips to help you properly set the decoys:
Step 1: Use the right number of decoys
The number of decoys to use will depend mainly on where you are hunting. Use about six decoys when you are hunting over a small backwater and about a dozen or more when you’re hunting on a big expanse of water. The idea is that you have a variety of duck decoys and use them depending on your hunting spot.
Step 2: Spread decoys near good cover
When setting out your decoys always keep concealment in your mind by camouflaging your duck blind using natural vegetation. You will always bag more ducks by hunting in spots that you can hide.
Place your decoys a bit closer to your blind and make it appear natural and real as possible. You can mix them up a little and set them facing different directions. You need to also leave some space among your decoys for ducks that are incoming.
Step 3: Be flexible
Always give your spread a new look by changing the pattern and number of decoys that you set. This is important as ducks seem to recognize and avoid decoys that are spread the same way day after day.
Also, you might try setting up your decoys in a different spot from where everyone is hunting to increase your chances. The idea is to make your spread appear unique from the other hunters in your area.
Step 4: Keep your decoys frost-free
Frost usually presents a major challenge for duck hunters on cold mornings. To keep your decoys frost-free you need to brush up your blinds and ensuring everything is in place before setting out the decoys. All you need to do is to make sure the decoys have less time to accumulate frost before sunrise.
After you’ve mastered the art of calling and set up your decoys, the next thing is duck shooting. The following are some tips to help you make every shot count on your upcoming duck hunt:
Step1: Focus on one duck at a time
To ensure precise shots, you must focus on a single duck alone. When a flock approaches, you should choose a single and aim at it for a clear shot. Once you miss a shot, adjust your rifle and follow-through the same bird you had earlier picked.
Step 2: Slow down while you shoot
To successfully shoot ducks, especially at great distances, is to move the gun slowly through the bird from behind, and make the shot once you see some daylight between the duck’s head and the barrel.
If you are aiming at passing ducks, make sure that you shoot at the back of the flock to allow you to follow through onto another duck.
Author Bio: Hi there, I am Jason Shiflet from HuntingPleasures.com – a website help people exchange knowledge about hunting pleasures!