By Mark Fike
A duck blind location is incredibly important as it is directly related to the success of your season. Put your duck blind in a spot that ducks don’t want to land in and you will watch as they either fly past you without giving you a second glance, or you will watch as they land just downstream or upstream of you every morning you go afield. That is torture!
I had to build several duck blinds during my time hunting and I will briefly share my initial experiences here. The first blind I built in a nice looking location that had good cover but it was on a shady and somewhat deeper location where I could get the boat behind it to cover it. Well, there was a shallow flat a few hundred yards away. Guess where the birds always went? The sunny mudflat where they could enjoy the warmth and some food.
The second blind I built had a good location with some food, cover and so on. However, I failed to scout it well. Had I done that prior to sinking the money into the blind, I would have noticed that the birds, ALL the birds, flew into a cove downstream about 800 yards as if a magnet were pulling them.
I found out later that an older couple put out big sacks of corn for the birds on their land each fall and winter. The birds knew that and went there. The game warden went to talk to them, but he knew that the judges in the courthouse were unlikely to fine or penalize the older couple for feeding birds despite it not being right. I now watch all the birds fly right into that cove. Every once in a while, a few birds will come into my setup.
So when you choose a duck blind location, ideally you should have some experience in that location. This means you should have physically seen ducks in that spot before you put a blind up there. Depending on your blind type, a lot of money and time can be committed in building or setting up a good spot to hunt. You want to do it right the first time!
If you have not seen ducks at the location you have decided to invest in, you are taking a risk. At the very least, do the following things to make the risk a little more in your favor.
First, choose what seems like an ideal feeding or resting location. For puddle ducks, this would include shallow water where the birds can feed. Look in the water. Is the bottom soft and is there submerged vegetation for the ducks? Is there a direct approach with the normally prevailing winds creating a headwind into the spot? Ducks tend to fly into the wind when taking off and landing if possible.
Some of those factors being absent are not deal breakers, but those boxes checked do increase the odds you are in a good “ducky” spot.
Does the area offer protection from the harshest wind? A curled in cove can be superb if it offers food and shallow water for the ducks and protection from the worst wave action or wind. I also recommend putting your blind in a spot where the sun will hit it sooner rather than later in the day. Ducks seem to prefer a well-lit spot vs. a dark, shady spot. I don’t know if it is the warmth or the visibility.
Secondary, is the location a good one for hunters? This is obviously not as important as having a spot ducks prefer to land or frequent but it is important.
I always try to position my blind where the rising sun will be at my back or at least interfering with the vision of approaching waterfowl as they light in my spread of decoys. This allows me just a little more wiggle room in the error department should something be amiss in my setup.
I also choose a location where I know I can adequately camouflage my blind. If there is a lot of nearby marsh grass then I know I have plenty of nearby material that I can use for that purpose. If my blind has to be in the water to avoid being on private land where I do not have permission, I want to be sure I can haul enough good material to cover the blind to the location. A long run in the boat to stand in a plywood shack on stilts with little or no cover is not going to be fun when the ducks never get near it.
In summary, scouting the location during the season to know where the birds tend to land is key. Otherwise, stack the odds in your favor by finding a shallow location with food, cover and good camo as well as prevailing winds favorable to the ducks. If you can set up with the rising sun near your back, so much the better!
Good luck this season in your fowling trips!