Duck hunting tips from a waterfowl guide
Waterfowl guide and All Terrain Outdoors pro-staffer Cody Chauppetta is a hardcore waterfowler. Cody knows ducks and duckhunting. He was asked to reveal some of his tactics to increase his chances for a great duck hunting season.
A successful duck hunter always does his homework before the season. Knowing your area plays a huge part in locating ducks. Before the ducks arrive, you should locate the right habitat with plenty of food to hold the annual migrators. As the season draws near, continually check those areas. Early morning scouting will reveal the flight patterns in your area. Make a note of where the ducks are located, along with the current water and weather conditions. Locating the prime areas for different environmental conditions can increase your chances for continued success. When duck season finally arrives, alternate your hunting locations. Repeatedly pressuring one area will cause the ducks to seek refuge in another location.
One of the most important pieces of hunting success is closing the deal and making each shot count. Shooting ducks is the art of shouldering your shotgun, timing the shot, and following through all in a split second. Take the time during the preseason to practice shouldering your gun. Practice from any shooting position you are going to encounter. Whether it is standing, sitting on a bench or bucket or from a layout blind, practicing a little each day may drastically increase your shooting ability.
Knowing how your shotgun patterns with different waterfowl loads is an essential piece of the waterfowling puzzle. Every shotgun shoots differently, and choosing the right choke tube can fine tune your shot pattern. When patterning your shotgun, use the same loads you are going to use on your hunt. Check the pattern at various distances. Some choke tubes will hold a good shot pattern over a greater shot range.
The element of concealment is a huge factor in waterfowl hunting. Some hunters neglect the upkeep of their blind as the season is in full swing. Maintaining a well brushed blind is key to continued concealment. Rebrushing a blind can be a headache at times, but adding a small amount of new brush during each hunt can ease the hassle. Having the right tools close at hand are also an asset. I carry a dry box in my boat, which is loaded with brush shears, flat green and flat back spray paint, and zip ties, the duck hunters’ “duck-tape.” Take advantage of each trip to the blind to stay hidden. There is always plenty of brush that is easily accessible and can be added to your blind.
A waterfowler knows good clothing is one of the most important aspects of his hunting arsenal. The inability to remain warm and dry in the duck blind can lead to a miserable hunt or even a life threatening situation. A high quality pair of waders and an insulated, waterproof wader coat are a good place to start, along with gloves and headwear. Under-wader clothing should be layered and consist of clothing designed to draw moisture away from your skin. The better prepared you are for the unexpected conditions, the more you will enjoy your hunt.
There are numerous ways to layout your decoy spread. There are a few factors that may make your decoy spread more appealing. First, match your decoys to the species and numbers of ducks for your area. Keep your spread natural. Early season ducks are usually fewer in number and haven’t fully transitioned into their breeding plumage. Laying out smaller spreads consisting mostly of hen decoys may be more effective. As season progresses, increasing your decoy spread and adding more drakes may prove more effective. Second, play the wind and set your spread to draw the ducks into your position. Ducks land into the wind. By setting up with the wind at your side of back, you can place your decoys up wind of your blind and force the ducks to land directly into your shooting lane. Third, give the ducks an open landing zone. Leave a clear path to give the ducks an easy place to land and to reduce the number of wounded decoys. Using the tactics may lead to a successful and action packed hunt.