New guy looking for advice

Duck Hunting for puddlers like Mallards, Sprig (Pintails), Black ducks, Widgeons, Woodducks, Teal, and other ducks.

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New guy looking for advice

Postby spartan231490 » Fri Aug 03, 2012 11:55 am

So, I fell in love with duck hunting several years ago, but for reasons I won't go into, I now have no places to go hunt, no calls, and virtually no experience. The only things I do have, are my shotgun, and a dozen mallard decoys. Now, I don't have much money at the moment, so getting more decoys is pretty much out of the picture, I could maybe afford 1 decoy by hunting season, and I wish I was exaggerating. Also, I'm painfully aware that with my lack of experience, calling is probably going to do more to scare the birds away then bring them in this season. Anyway, on to what I'm asking for, though any general advice is more than welcome.

I live in Potsdam NY, and I'm looking for a place within 30 minutes if possible, but definitely no further than an hour. I do have a boat I could use if I need it, but I'd prefer somewhere shallow enough to retrieve with waders. I have no dog, btw.

I would like a call or two this season, if for no other reason than to get some experience calling and seeing the bird's reactions(like I said, I don't expect to have any success calling this season, but the sooner I make my mistakes the sooner I can learn from them). So, considering that my decoys are for mallards, I imagine a mallard decoy would be best, but I don't know what brand or type of call to look for. Also, in the past I've had widgeon, blacks, and wood ducks come into mallard decoys, so I would like a call(if possible) that will have some effect on these birds, even if it's not ideal for them.

That said, any general advice would also be greatly appreciated.
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Re: New guy looking for advice

Postby TXHunter96 » Fri Aug 03, 2012 12:22 pm

I'm probably not the most qualified to answer, but the 2nd time I went duck hunting, we wre caught off guard when about 2 dozen wigeon(s) came into our spread. No one put a call to their lips. You don't always need a call. Does it help? Probably. Also, for land, check out public land in your state. Find some people who duck hunt in your area and get info from them. Hope this helped some.
Deer, Ducks, Guns > School
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Re: New guy looking for advice

Postby harryhyde » Fri Aug 03, 2012 12:59 pm

For $25, Cabelas will sell you a Buck Gardner call/instructional CD/Fowl Play 5 DVD. That's what I would do. Having said that- Buck himself, a former World Champion duck caller, has said that if he had to choose between a call and a jerk cord, he would take the jerk cord. You can rig that up for cheaper than $25.
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Re: New guy looking for advice

Postby spartan231490 » Fri Aug 03, 2012 1:48 pm

As far as asking people in this area, I actually don't know any. I'm not in any hunting clubs or skeet/trap ranges and the only person in my family who duck hunts is pretty hard core about it. He hunts these little ponds he has to walk several miles to get to, and while I don't necessarily need to drive right up to my spot, I'd prefer to keep my walk down under 2 miles or so. Now that I think about it though, there are quite a few rod and gun clubs in the area, not to mention a few different sports stores, I imagine I could ask around at those and find someone who duck hunts. I'd never thought of that before.

I'm trying to check out the state land but it's slow. I live really close to the Adirondack park and there's state land everywhere, and trying to find the time to take a good look at a place is challenging. Just checked out two new spots today, and one looks promising but I need to go back and get a closer look with my waders.

As for the jerk cord, I've actually never heard of one before. The guy I hunted with didn't use one, I'll look into it.

Thanks for the suggestions.
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Re: New guy looking for advice

Postby rds0523 » Mon Aug 06, 2012 8:55 pm

I have only been hunting for about 5 years now, but i am very passionate about duck hunting and i literally try to research/learn something new every single day. i hunt with a guy who has been hunting for a little over 20 years. He also happens to work for Ducks Unlimited and i have met a lot of people through him and experienced a lot of really amazing hunting opportunities. I have learned several really valuable things along the way ..

we find ourselves sitting quietly more than we find ourselves calling, calling is a very useful skill when applied correctly at the right time..I mean if you spend any time sitting and watching waterfowl, they aren't screaming at each other and constantly making noise - some guys put out amazing spreads and then they just hammer the calls - doesn't make any sense really...if you want to get a good sounding call that's easy to blow and doesn't cost a ton of money look into the Haydel DR-85 should cost about $20 super easy to blow and you can get a lot of cool useful sounds.

the second important lesson i have learned is scout as much as you can, most guys around here wait until the week before to scout, i typically start as soon as the lakes thaw, i start by just looking for ducks/geese and their young, once i have located them i just keep tabs on them try to watch them and figure our their routines and patterns where they go how long they are there do they always fly the "same" paths? where do they loaf where do they feed, and just keep tabs on them as long as you can, more you find and the more you keep tabs the easier it will be to know where they are when the season comes around. i take major advantage of google maps arial view of things, they are usually only 6-12 months behind on their satellite photos, but this will give you a great idea of where little potholes or lakes should be, if they have public accesses or houses on them and then keep track of these places. sometimes we all get stuck in routines or comfortable hunts and forget to branch out - keeping track of all of your potential spots on a map really helps you visualize the whole big picture. We started doing this and realized we had over 120 locations we could hunt, so there was never any reason we should hunt a spot just because we couldn't think of anywhere else to go. finding the ducks and being where they want to be is way more important than calling or decoys

a 3rd important thing i have learned is that the number of decoys is not as important as how realistic they look. make the patter look as realistic as you possibly can, create landing pockets or groupings that force the ducks into landing areas based on wind and decoy location. we almost never hunt over more than 18-24 decoys typically we use 12 mallards and 6 randoms (unless we are diver hunting) we have over 10 dozen decoys but they are kind of a waste because they rarely get used. so do not let your 12 discourage you or make you think you need big spreads. from everything i've read and heard big spreads are really only useful to southern state hunters. we have had some of our best hunts over 6 decoys

i don't know if these tips will help you or anyone else but they definitely have helped me kill a lot of ducks..

p.s. sorry so long..
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Re: New guy looking for advice

Postby rds0523 » Mon Aug 06, 2012 8:59 pm

P.S.S.

Adding motion to your spread - jerk cord is usually excellent results, followed by occasional use of a mojo - is extremely helpful

and if you want to meet more duck hunters, i would suggest becoming a member or volunteer with Ducks Unlimited - www.Ducks.org - you can use their website to look up local events in your area and head to a banquet or event - the ones around here usually have penny or free beer and lots of awesome people

just another thought
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Re: New guy looking for advice

Postby duckbuddy » Tue Aug 07, 2012 11:51 am

I dont want to play the d-bag, but you know a guy who lives for waterfowl, and travels quite a bit to get to them, yet you dont want to go with him cause its far? He has the gears, you just dont have the passion it seems. If you are handicap or that person is a little prick, than I can understand, but if you arent willing to put the time to go into these secluded places that take hours of footwork, you basically asking us waterfowlers where you can drive up, throw a few decoys out and kill something. I dont know you, but that attitude suggest a lazy persona. '
If your handicap or that person is a prick, than its going to be tougher, but sometimes you have to man-up and ask for his gear and find your own place to your convenience. If all else fails, your local hunting forums can help you meet new people who already have the gears and as long as you show dedication and hard work, you will get another invite.
DUCK HUNTING ITS NOT ABOUT THE BAG ITS ABOUT GETTING AWAY
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Re: New guy looking for advice

Postby quackhead38 » Wed Aug 22, 2012 8:02 pm

i understand the low budget but you could pick up a dozen of the storm front dekes for 25-35 bucks from cabelas
theyre real nice lookin i just got some this past year really nice for the price
"we kill things we don't understand"
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Re: New guy looking for advice

Postby scubaarchery » Thu Aug 23, 2012 9:00 pm

rds0523 gave you the best advice. I started last year and learned the same things:
1. Use google earth to look for good spots
2. Scout differnt times and wind conditions to find flight patterns to figure out your exact spread
3. Set your dekes up (12 are fine) where the ducks are flying. Use a jerk cord and 2-3 dekes to create motion on the water
4. Ensure you set up with the kill zone where you want it to be, have cover and keep your face covered and minimize movement
5. If you do 1-4 above, you don't need to call, they will come right in on top of you anyway
6. I hunt public land and its a hike to get away from the crowds and an early morning to get to my spot first. If you can walk miles to get to a good spot with an experienced hunter, you should really take advantage of it.
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