My name is Jeff I recently moved to the Panhandle (Navarre/Ft. Walton/Destin) area and have gone out on my own quite a bit to learn the ropes around here. I've been burning a lot of gas/used a good bit of google earth, and don't mind doing my homework. I do have some pretty general questions regarding duck hunting in this area, and would appreciate some advice.
1) Woodies- I have been able to run into some wood ducks in pretty remote areas, but have never used decoys/mojos etc... I've more or less jumped them in either pools where they rest/feed or thick areas where they roost. I've read that 6 woodie decoys is enough. Has anyone ever used a mojo for woodies and had success? I also have a jerk rig, which may be more practical.
I don't own woodie decoys and probably never will. I've had some land in occasionally to my mixed spread, but when I target them I usually just set up on their roost path.
2) There are quite a few creeks and river which feed into bays. I assume this is brackish water? If I were to follow those creeks/rivers inland, I would assume the water is still not considered freshwater. Do wooducks still thrive in adjoining offshoots, or does brackish water only equate to divers?
Depending how far these creeks/rivers run inland they may be just brackish tidal flow or possibly have a freshwater spring at the end of them. You can tell a lot by the vegetation that grows on the banks or on the bottom. Good rule of thumb is to always taste the water. Wood ducks will be found where trees are. Particularly hardwood such as oak and cypress.
3) I have heard that the short September teal/woodie season has more activity. Anyone find this to be true? With that said, the areas I've found seem like perfect locations for snakes/gators. I've run into boar, but luckily it's been too cold for active reptiles. Any advice on how to keep from being eaten by gators/still hunt in these areas? Snakes are everywhere, but I've never had to consider being in gator territory.
I wouldn't worry to much about snakes and gators. Unless you plan on wading in at every location then just be cautious. I've waded up to my waste in mid September without fear, but I'm a badass. Just kidding. Remember gators are wild and usually are pretty quick to leave when hunters are causing noise. They will be around no doubt. Just be aware.
4) I have most basic equipment but my decoys are all mallards. My buddy and I are purchasing some diver decoys to use in local bays. In the future, we would like to get a small duck boat. I am not too familiar with hunting the bays around here, what kind of boat is needed which will provide versatility for creeks/rivers and the bay? I've seen it get choppy pretty quick. Is a certain motor needed due to brackish/salt water? Any other recommended equipment to lead to successful hunts in this area?
People will have their own opinions on what boat is better, but mine is just a 14' Jon boat (Alumacraft) and has a wide stable bottom. I run a 9.9hp Evinrude on it and it will run 15mph with two people and gear and blind, 20mph empty. Some like mud motors and they serve their purposes. Everything depends on location and what kind of water you are running in. If the creeks and rivers have a good channel then an outboard will do fine. Nothing is cheap, but Jon boats are a dime a dozen. Look into getting a few teal decoys and to save some cash I would paint those green heads you got already into divers. Your area is a popular place for divers. Good luck and welcome.
Thanks in advance for the help/advice, Jeff
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Thanks for the advice, I appreciate it! In addition to acorn producing oak/areas saturated with cypress, I've noticed in more than one location that the woodies like to hang out around beaver dams.
I am going to try and take a day off so that I can be there and deep into the mix when they show up at their feeding hole. Also scouted some spots I think would be suitable for divers. Some areas with shallow water/sand bars should allow us to wade out and toss out our dekes. In the event we need to retreive a duck in water too deep to wade into, we are going to use a paddle board until we get a boat. Poor man's retreiver.
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