By Mark Fike
Duck hunting is a great pastime. I will admit that I enjoy it much more than deer hunting these days and it may be my favorite type of hunting. The socialization you can do while duck hunting, the working of the dogs and the overall fun time you have cutting up while with friends is worth all the time spent.
There are some things that you definitely want to avoid doing while duck hunting if you want to at least see and get shots at ducks.
1—Forgetting to bring or use good camo
Not wearing a face mask is a bad thing unless you are just buried in a layout, dug out, pit or other structure. A face stands out really well unless your skin tone is darker. Those of you with darker skin tones have it made when duck hunting, but a mask to break up the outline is still a good idea.
If you are calling to the ducks, gloves are probably necessary too to avoid your hands showing. Same rules apply as above!
If your blind is not well brushed or the boat is in plain sight without being camo or hidden, then you will flare ducks. Brush those blinds with local branches, weeds and other material but DON’T use the stuff immediately around the blind otherwise you draw more attention to the blind.
2—Moving too much
Duck hunting allows you to move around, shuffle your feet to keep the blood moving and so on. BUT, you don’t want to move when the ducks are flying within sight of you. Keep all movement to a minimum when you are seeing the birds work. The caller should be the only one moving and only a little bit. If someone is working the jerk rig they might move, but hopefully they are in a spot where the ducks cannot see them. The old saying goes, “Keep the dogs quiet and look at the water until someone says WHEN!”
3—Not dressing for the occasion
Let’s face it. Most of the better duck hunting occurs during the coldest days. So, you need to be prepared for it. Dress in layers so you can peel off or add what you need. Look for windproof material when selecting duck hunting gear. Our pastime puts us in nasty, windy conditions at times.
4—Not patterning your gun
I have done this. It cost me on a nice field goose hunt I actually paid a guide for. I had nowhere to go, and Teddy Carr in Virginia had the X all worked out on some geese. I went and enjoyed myself thoroughly, but I brought shells with me that were not patterning well at all. I could not believe I was not killing the geese cleanly and they were close! It was maddening. I switched shells for the latter part of the hunt and the deadly shooting began. Lights out and the geese never knew what hit them.
Upon returning home, I saw how bad the pattern was. A change in choke tubes made the shells useable for another hunt though. The hunt would have been better if I had done my patterning before I went.
5—Calling too much
If in doubt, don’t call. If you have movement in your spread such as a jerk rig, motion decoy or something similar, you will attract ducks. A few hits on the call are all that is needed. The only time you really need to call hard is when the birds don’t seem to notice your spread or they are far away or passing you up. Leave the call alone the rest of the time.
Hopefully you all will have a great season this year and hopefully we see more ducks than last year. Get out to new areas, study maps and find those hidden backwaters too. Good shooting!