Duck hunting is a fun, exciting and very tiring sport. Whether hunting with family, friends, wife or father, just being out in the field with them enjoying nature is what hunting is about. Duck hunting is challenging and there are many techniques to use when hunting waterfowl. Like our previous deer hunting tips, here are some duck hunting tips and things to consider when you’re out in the field:
Where to hunt?
There are many different places where you will find ducks congregating, but one of the main ingredients here is water. One of your options include a flooded field. Some farmers will pump in water in one of their empty fields once all their beans or corn has been cut to allow a place for ducks to come and feed. If you’re hunting in a flood field, you probably won’t need a boat or canoe to setup your decoys and retrieve your birds. I would recommend getting a good ground blind like the Bunker Blind from Drake. If you have a ditch bank near your flooded field, you can always lay down in it.
Another area to find ducks are sloughs that are running along the side of creeks and rivers. You can usually spot them fairly easily when you see all the cattails along the side of the water. Ducks find refuge in this area where the cattails are blocking a lot of the wind. They will sometimes rest and feed here all day long. You will need a canoe or boat depending on the depth of the slough you are hunting.
Personally, I’ve never hunted on the river. I’ve always been in either the creeks, sloughs or flooded fields. If duck hunting on the river, look for the islands and sandbars. Those are usually great places for ducks to land and have a wide view of the area to feel safe while feeding.
What gun and shell size to use?
While it’s best to check your State Regulations Hunting & Guidelines first, I would recommend using a 12 gauge pump action shotgun. Some people prefer 2 3/4″ shells and some use 3″ shells. For both, waterfowl and turkey, I prefer using a 3 1/2″ shell. I shoot a Benelli Super Nova and the 3 1/2″ shells seem to shoot the best for me. It might be a little bit more recoil, but nothing I can’t handle. The shells I shoot are Winchester Xpert Hi-Velocity #3 3 1/2 shells. There are many shells on the market. You have to find the right combination for you, your gun and the ducks.
What Should I Wear?
It depends on where you’re hunting. If you’re hunting in a creek, river or slough where you need a boat or canoe, then there’s no need for you to be wearing waders up to your chest. If you’re hunting flooded fields or timber, then you might want to invest in a pair of good waders like the Drake Eqwaders. Otherwise, you just need a nice pair of insulated boots to keep you warm.
What Decoys and Spread to Use?
Setups vary from place to place. If you’re hunting in a deeper creek or river, make sure you have heavier weights attached to your decoys. Hunting over a flooded field or creek and you shouldn’t need as much weight. As far as the size of your spread, it can vary from place to place as well. If you’re hunting in some flooded timber and you are hunting from a boat, you should set about a dozen decoys out. Make sure to look up and see if you can see an opening in the trees. If you can’t, then the ducks won’t come in to you. I usually find that a small spread of 1 – 2 dozen decoys is fine. If you have a Mojo or something that can produce small splashes or waves, then definitely use that too.
One of the most common decoy spreads is the “U” pattern headed directly towards the wind. The ducks will be circling and eventually fly down into the wind in the middle of your spread. I’ve also set up about 1 – 2 dozen decoys just along the edge of a flooded field in no specific pattern and had success. There’s also a guy I know using just 6 mallard decoys that flap it’s feet to make splashes in the water and he always has great results.
How To Call Ducks?
I’m not a championship caller by all means, but I know how to call ducks into shooting range. There are many different types of calls you should know about ducks including: quack, greeting, feeding, hail and many more. If you don’t master any other call, you should at least get the basic quack call learnt if you want a duck to come into your spread. Click here to here a basic duck quack call.
I could write a book on all the different duck hunting scenarios, gear to have and all the decoy patterns you can use, so not everything is covered in this article. These are some of the basic tips of duck hunting. Hopefully this will get your started in this exciting sport!
If you have any other comments, questions or tips related to duck hunting, please leave a comment below.