By 11/02/2014 Read More →

Duck Hunting on the Juniata River in Pennsylvania

Duck hunting on the Juniata River in Pennsylvania is something that I have been looking forward to since January.  I went duck hunting in Tennessee for the first time in January when I won a trip with Babes, Bullets, and Broadheads to TJ Petty's Guide Service on Reelfoot Lake.  I had a great time duck hunting with the ladies from Babes, Bullets and Broadheads and wanted to try duck hunting here at home.  I live in the South Zone of Pennsylvania and our duck season runs from October 18th to October 25th and then again from November 15th to January 15th.  My Dad and my Grandparents live along the river so I am blessed with easy river access to go duck hunting on the Juniata River.

Juniata River Facts

Juniatamap"Juniata" is an Seneca name meaning "Standing Stone" and later people interpreted the meaning as being "Blue Waters."  The Juniata River forms in Huntingdon County at the junction of the Frankstown Branch and the Little Juniata River.  It stretches approximately 104 miles and is a tributary to the Susquehanna River.  The average water depth is 3 to 4 feet with some pools as deep as 15 feet.  The Juniata river flows along a scenic route through several mountain ridges.  Early settlers used the Juniata River as a source of water, food, and transportation.  A canal system on the Juniata River was used to link communties together before the railroad was built.  Today the Juniata River is mainly used for recreation such as boating, fishing, and swimming.  Smallmouth bass, channel catfish, walleye, and carp make their homes in the Juniata River waters.

Duck Hunting on the Juniata River

I was not able to go duck hunting on the Juniata River on opening day due to a family emergency.  I was disappointed. My Dad lives along the Juniata River and he told me that the river was high due to rains and that he did not see anybody duck hunting on Saturday, October 18th. 019 We planned to go duck hunting on Monday morning, October 20th.  I gathered my hunting gear and anxiously awaited for morning to arrive.  Morning came and I dressed quickly and drove to my Dad's house.  We loaded everything into his boat and made our way to the other side of the river.  Dad parked the boat and we waded down the river to a tree that hangs out over the water.  He told me that we would stand under the tree branches and use them as cover.  We stood in the calf-deep water and waited for the sun to rise.  As the sun came up, I kept watching the sky for ducks.  I looked up the river and spotted two ducks swimming by the boat.  I said to my Dad, "Look, there's some ducks!"  He replied, "Don't shoot the boat!"  I laughed and told him that I was not going to shoot them on the water.  I waited for the ducks to swim out and when they took off flying I blasted three shots at them and missed.  We heard a rustling on the bank and I looked to see another hunter.  We did not know that there were other hunters set up about 100 yards down the river from us.  Dad did not want to intrude on their space so he said that we would ride down to the island and see if anybody was hunting there.  We waded back to boat, loaded into it, and Dad used a pole to push us out into the river.  We were floating down the river when I saw a duck flying towards us.  I said, "Dad, here comes a duck!"  He replied, "Don't shoot the powerline!"  I waited for the duck to fly over us and turned around and shot it as it flew up river.  One shot and it fell out of the sky.  My Dad and I were both so happy!  Dad was with me when I shot my first buck in 1995 and now he was by my side when I shot my first duck in 2014.  I told my Dad to hurry up and get that motor started so we could go get my duck!  The hunters that were set up below us had a dog and their dog was ready to go get my duck, they had to call him back.  Dad started the boat and drove us to my duck and I quickly grabbed him out of the water and put him in the boat.010  I admired my duck, my first Pennsylvania duck!  I found out later that my first duck was a young drake Mallard.  We went down and hunted on the small island until ten o'clock.  There were three sets of ducks that flew over us within shooting range but I missed all of them.  I asked my Dad why he didn't bring his gun because he could have helped me try to shoot those ducks, he replied, "I wanted you to know that you can do it.  I wanted you to know that you could shoot a duck by yourself, and you did!"  I smiled and told him, "Well, okay but we could have killed a lot more if you were shooting too!"  We laughed and headed back to the boat.  I had to go to work that evening so we only hunted until 10 o'clock that morning.  My first time duck hunting on the Juniata River was successful and full of memories.

Dad and I returned to the island on Wednesday, October 22nd.  It was very windy but we set a few decoys out and hoped for the best.  The small island provides some natural made cover from debris piling up during high water.  There are also some small trees growing on the island. 013 The combination of the small trees and debris make a nice little spot to hide from the ducks.  Duck hunting on the Juniata River was proving to be a very different experience from hunting out of a blind in Tennessee, but I was still having a great time!  We hid in the middle of the debris pile and waited to see if we would get any action.  The wind was blowing fairly strong but I was determined that we would see some ducks.  The sun began to rise and I heard some ducks quacking as they flew up the river towards us.  I blasted three rounds off even though they looked awful high.  Dad laughed and said, "Ame, you can't shoot that high!  Save your shells!"  He showed me to look at the treeline and said that if the ducks are higher than the trees that my shot would not be able to reach them.  We saw several groups of ducks but they were all flying too high.  We also talked about why I missed so many ducks when we were hunting on Monday.  Dad helped me figure out that I cannot shoot ALL of the ducks, I need to focus and aim on one duck even if there are four or more flying together.  He told me to always aim for the lead duck because the ones following it could fly into the shot if you aim for the first one.  We stayed out for a couple hours and decided to pack it up for the day.  I did not bring home any ducks from my second time duck hunting on the Juniata River, but hopefully I brought home some advice that will help me harvest ducks when the season comes back in this month.  Thank you for reading, good luck hunting, and you can find me, @AmySward on Twitter if you have any duck hunting tips to share!

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Amy Sward

About the Author:

Hello, my name is Amy and I have lived in Central Pennsylvania all of my life. I was born into a family of outdoorsmen, hunting and fishing have always been part of my life. My dad started taking me hunting with him when I was a little girl. He also taught me how to fish for trout in local creeks. The first day of deer season and the first day of trout season were like holidays in our household. My grandfather enjoyed trapping and as a teenager I often went along with him to check the traps. Raccoons, red fox, and grey fox were harvested from the traps in the woods and muskrats were harvested from the traps by the Juniata River. I have many fond memories of trapping with my grandfather. I have enjoyed hunting small game and hunting whitetail deer in rifle season over the years. This year I am branching out and trying some new things. I went duck hunting in January and enjoyed it very much. I went spring gobbler hunting in May and loved it! I purchased a crossbow and will be entering the woods for white-tailed deer during archery season for the first time in October. I enjoy sharing my love of the outdoors with my family. Camping and kayaking are popular activities. I love to hunt and fish with my three nephews and my grandson. My two granddaughters enjoy fishing and hopefully they will show interest in hunting in the future. They love to go spotlighting for deer, and hopefully someday they will love to go hunting for them also.