Duck Hunting Basics, All You Need To Know

duck migrationWhether you are hunting alone or with a group of friends duck hunting is extremely challenging and fun. With over 60 subspecies of duck that range in size from 20-26 inches long and have a wingspan of 32 -39 inches it can be an incredible hunting experience.

Ducks have strong short wings that enable them to fly long distances. Ducks migrate from Canada to Central America. With each flock containing up to 100 ducks this brings plenty of opportunities to bag one in the field! Each year ducks will follow the same fly ways or routes.

Stopping at the same feeding sites along the way!

BASIC EQUIPMENT

Waders:

Waders are duck hunting essential. Hip waders will get you by in a few places, but chest-high waders are better. Even if the water isn’t deep. they’ll keep you dry when you sit down. You can get a pair of chest waders for $60, but you’ll be cold, miserable and you’ll give up duck hunting before you even begin. A decent pair of well-insulated chest high waders will cost $100 to $150. Don’t think you can only use them duck hunting. If you are fishing in cold weather or foul weather, waders will keep you warmer and drier than any rain suit on the market.

Decoys:

med mallard decoyYou can start out with a dozen (mallard) decoys no matter where you hunt. It doesn’t matter if you have 10 decoys or 110, ducks will be where they want to be. 10 decoys will get you by and you can always add decoys later.

Of course the rage among most duck hunters these days is the so-called “robo-duck,” a battery-operated decoy with rotating wings. Some even dip and dive creating ripples on the water just like feeding ducks. The robo-ducks are very effective, so much so that some across the country have suggested they be banned.

But don’t think you have to have a decoy. If you’ve done your scouting and found a good area where ducks want to be, a robo-duck won’t matter.

Guns & Shells:

Many hunters these days want to use their ten gauge shotguns and 3-and-a-half inch shot shells. But a 12-gauge chambered for 3-inch magnums is the waterfowl Hunting standard. If you allow ducks to get into reasonable range, almost any high-power shotgun shell will do the trick. It is recommended that if you choose a choke then go with modified. Remember to buy steel shot shells only – no lead allowed.

Camouflage:duck hunting blind

Most new hunters make the major mistake of building blinds that don’t match the natural surroundings. Think a big spot of green in a sea of brown. Ducks are smart and they know when something doesn’t look right.

Clothing:

Anything is fine as long as it’s brown. Duck hunters who buy green camo have generally made a mistake. The need for green camouflage is rare in hunting for Ducks. Some places offer good natural cover, hunters who will stay still can simply use good camouflage to blend into the existing scenery. Always wear a facemask or face paint. It might not seem like much, but a hunter’s peering toward the sky is just like a neon sign saying “stay away!”

Duck Calls:

Duck calls for those that have mastered the art can be priceless. For novice hunters who are beginning, you might want to keep it simple and practice before taking to the field. Don’t forget to buy your calls at Ozark Custom Calls for the best.

Duck Hunting Basic Strategies

Be Mobile:

Mobility is the successful key in duck hunting. If you have been in an area for an extended amount of time and come up short then it is time to move. Some areas will see more action then others and it is important that when you see these hot spots that you move to them.

Another reason that you want to be mobile is due to birds that have been in the area awhile. Although you can hunt in the same area when ducks are migrating in, if there are no new Ducks to the area the ones that are there will quickly learn your location.

Be willing to seek out new territory. That might mean spending some afternoons hiking or spending a lot on gas for the boat. But be mobile, find new spots rather then returning to the same dry hole all the time, and your work will be rewarded.

Don’t Skybust:ducks flying

Skybusting is shooting at ducks that are simply too far away, resulting in wasted shells, wounded birds, and ruined hunts for others in the area.

Twenty to thirty yards is ideal shooting range for ducks. When a duck gets within distance, the eyeball will be clearly distinguishable. Until then, it’s probably out of range. Many hunters will measure off 45 yards to place their furthest decoy and use that to mark the maximum shooting distance.

In nearly every case, ducks will circle your decoys many times before they actually decide to try and land. They’re using their own skills to spot potential danger, and each pass over the decoys gives the hunter another opportunity!

Unlike deer hunting, duck hunting is all about marksmanship and precision. The object of duck hunting is not basically to shot at the duck but to aim at the duck when they are in flight!

A True Sportsman

duck hunterThe term “Sitting Duck” is derived from the act of shooting a duck that is in the water. These ducks are not considered by most waterfowl hunters as fair game! The easiest and best way to attract ducks is to use decoys. Decoys can be purchased from the store or hand made out of dried branches and leaves over calm water. You

won’t be able to attract a duck unless you have a masterful blind. Blinds are a vital piece of the equation! Ducks are very skittish animals and are always looking for traps and danger! Blinds help conceal the hunter as you sit and wait for the ducks to arrive! Blinds can be bought or made of branches, stems and leaves to create a tent like structure. Think of blinds as your nest where you sit and wait for a flock to come in sight!

Many Waterfowl Duck Hunters like to add features to their decoys to make them move from time to time. An easy way to create this movement is to add a piece of string to your decoys that can easily be pulled. Occasional movement of the decoys is the key to your hunting success (due to the sharp eyes of the duck). If a duck sees that the decoy is inanimate or moving in a non natural fashion they will not come to the area!

Many experienced waterfowl hunters use duck calls to bait in the ducks. Duck calls can be highly effective to someone that has mastered the art of the call! It is advised that if you have not mastered this art then you are better off not using one. Many novice hunters using duck calls often scare away the ducks and not only ruin their hunt but other sour the hunt for all in the area!

Hunting Success

ducks successThis brings us to making the shot. When shooting at fleeing flocks aim for the tail end of the formation! If you aim at the front or middle of the formation the ducks will scatter ruining your chances of a follow up shot. If you aim for the tail-end of the group you won’t break up the flock. The ducks that you have hit will fall and lag behind the rest of the formation.

Although this does not cover everything that encompasses Duck hunting this gets us back to the basics! It is always important to remember to check your local regulations before you go on your hunt. If you have more tips please share them in the comments below, and remember to always have fun!

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gregory Beckman

About the Author:

Hi, I am Gregory Beckman, as the main owner of Military Hunting and Fishing let me tell you a little bit more about myself. I am currently an active duty member in the United States Coast Guard. I have been an active duty member for seven years and counting, traveling the world, and defending my country! My experiences have shaped the way that I see the world and my memories will stick with me for a lifetime. Although I may not live in the country, the country lives in me. Traveling the world I have had the chance to experience the wonders of nature in many different places, meeting many different people and tasting wild game that the normal person would not get to experience. Although these experiences have kept me away from home, it has instilled a deep passion of hunting and fishing in my blood. Thank you for joining our site, and I look forward to interacting and sharing stories of our hunting adventures. Gregory A. Beckman
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