How many times have you grimaced upon failing to make a great shot at the time of hunting waterfowl and/or ducks? Shooting ducks, or any other bird for that matter, is no mean task. In fact, duck-hunting is probably the most difficult hunting sport to enter.
Several considerations go into successful duck hunting. It’s not just your hunting and shooting skills that need to be well-honed, you also need to have a thorough understanding of the equipment and the complicated regulations involved. Another important aspect to think about is calling ducks, which can take a while to learn.
Whether it is setting the decoys or knowing the species of the duck you shoot, it is only natural for novice duck hunters to wonder about these factors. Additionally, there is also the question of being able to identify and access the best hunting locations.
Although duck hunting is a challenging sport, it is equally engaging. You can make it easier for yourself by following the tips mentioned in this post.
1. ARM YOURSELF WITH THE BASIC EQUIPMENT
When putting together the equipment for your duck-hunting trip, make sure you include the following essentials –
The good news is that the price of decoys has plummeted in last few years so you can pick up more of them. If you’re unsure about the species you’ll be hunting, buying mallard decoys will prove to be a safe bet. Almost all ducks will come to your spread. You will also require decoy strings and anchor weights for each decoy you buy.
You will do well to buy sturdy neoprene chest waders as they’ll hold you in good stead in deep as well as shallow water by keeping you warm and dry. Avoid hip waders when duck hunting.
A lot of hunters prefer semi-automatic guns and several others go for pumps or shotguns. A semi-automatic gun is convenient as all you need to do to shoot is pull the trigger. Pumps are a good option too as they rarely misfire, even under trying conditions. Double-barreled shotguns, however, are not very convenient for duck hunting as they have two shells.
Federal waterfowl regulations require that only three shells be loaded in a gun. Although the 12-gauge shotgun is preferred by most waterfowl hunters, the 20-gauge are also wide used. 10-gauge shotguns are usually used by geese hunters.
Here’s what you need to know about the shots you can and cannot use –
- Lead shots are not permitted.
- Steel shot or other non-toxic shot shells are permissible.
- Bismuth and tungsten shots are not only non-toxic, they also have higher velocity and are more impactful than steel. However, they can be expensive, which is why most hunters go for steel shots.
- A modified choke is also a good option.
- As far as the size of the shell is concerned, 3-inch is the standard.
In order to make your job simpler, you will do well to wear camouflage. However, the kind of camouflage you pick would depend largely on where you plan to hunt. If the marshes are your main hunting ground, a brown grassy pattern would work well. When hunting in forest areas, a leafy pattern is best. Make sure you get yourself matching waterproof gloves. A waterproof hat with a bill can be helpful in avoiding the sun’s glare. Of course, you’re also going to need a camo face cover. You don’t want the ducks to spot the glare of your bare face and disappear from the site, do you?
2. PRACTICE CALLING DUCKS
If you’re a newbie, you’re probably going to take time to master the art of calling ducks. Avoid calling until you get the hang of it. Simply work on your spread and you will do well. Learn to call by listening to audios of it and practice alongside. Keep this up and soon you will find yourself to be able to do so expertly. Try to get an idea of how real ducks sound and imitate them.
3. FIND A GOOD HUNTING GROUND
While every state has some hunting land available, there are some with enormous amounts of such lands. It is best to hunt in an area with water. Do make it a point to go through and understand the hunting rules and regulations of your chosen area. When hunting on private land, locate birds and ask for permission to hunt them beforehand. You’re going to need plat books to be able to study your hunting location.
If you’re not sure about any of the regulations, you will do well to inquire with the state wildlife authorities. Remember, it is always better to be safe than sorry. The main points of consideration include permissions, harvest limitations and hunting hours. Make sure to get these right as each state has different rules.
4. IDENTIFY THE BIRD BEFORE HUNTING IT
Bird identification is a skill and a very crucial one for a duck hunter. It is vital that you educate yourself about identifying birds, learn what kind of sounds they make, and what they look like in air. When it comes to certain species of birds, some states have restrictions on the number that can be hunted. It is, therefore, better to be well-informed than get into trouble for actions springing from ignorance.
5. HAVE A STRATEGY FOR RETRIEVING
If you shoot a bird successfully, you’re going to have to pursue and retrieve it, which can be quite a task in itself. Having a well-trained hunting dog is one option. If your hunting ground happens to be a shallow waterbody, your waders can retrieve the bird for you. You will do well to have a boat or a canoe if the water is deep. Avoid skybusting or shooting birds that are out of your gun’s range. You might end up injuring them and spoiling the fun for other hunters. It will also make retrieving the bird more difficult, in case you do kill one.
Duck hunting is a sport which requires careful planning, strategizing, implementing, skill, alertness, persistence and most of all, patience. If you think it’s only about putting out some decoys and making a few calls, then you’re going to be jolted out of that notion when you actually indulge in it. The above tips should give novices a good idea of what to expect and do on their big duck hunting trip. Do follow them and you’re sure to encounter success.
Judith Wright is a passionate blogger in the areas of adventurous, perilous and outdoor activities. Judith is also extremely enthusiastic about skiing, hill climbing and trekking. Currently she is an editor at OutDoorHill shop which a provider of hunting gears like guns, spotting scopes and rifle scopes for outdoor activities like hunting and fishing.