The key to success in waterfowl hunting, especially in unfamiliar territory, is often in the preparation before the hunt. In duck hunting, this means locating the right spot. Sure, you need the right gear, decoys, calls, camo, guns and ammo, but all of that is useless if you don’t have the bird numbers to put a bead on. Follow these 3 steps for more duck hunting success.
1 scouting = driving (windshield time)
2 checking = get your feet dirty
3 permission = door knocking
Scouting helps you know the fields and water around you. Where are the ducks feeding? What is their flight path? What other water is around? Is this a roost pond or a day use pond? Sometimes you just don’t need to spot as much. If you know the lay of the land extremely well, and the number of local birds is high, then your regular spots are likely good to go. Spend some windshield time driving the area. Try to follow the routine of the ducks from water to field to water.
Check the spot you want hunt at the same time of day you want to hunt. Get out and take a walk around where you want to hunt. Do you have cover for all wind directions? Take note of the species of birds that frequent the spot. If you want to shoot mallards, and you see plenty in your spotting runs, then be prepared to wait for the mallard to show. If you have picked a good spot and you are set up with a good decoy spread, give the mallard’s time. Don’t fire off a volley of shots at the first flock of pintails or teal to buzz your decoys. The mallards may not be far behind and a few shotgun blasts can be enough to send them searching for a new pothole. If you are not particular about species (know your limits) then be selective about the flocks that are in the air and what’s over your decoys. If you have a flock of 50 ducks approaching, you might want to let the three in range pass through.
Gaining access to land is usually an easy task, as long as you politely ask for permission. My experience has been that most landowners will grant you permission as long as you respect their land, their crops, their livestock.
Spotting gives you a better opportunity for a better hunt. Once you have done your preparation, then it’s time for your shooting skills to take over.