New to Waterfowl

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New to Waterfowl

Postby zee-unit » Fri Feb 07, 2014 11:13 am

Hey guys,

I stumbled across this forum a little while ago, and it looks like there is a ton of great information here. I decided to join, and I am looking forward to learning from you guys.

I am 23 years old, and I live in the middle of the cities. I grew up doing a little hunting with my Dad, who basically picked up the hobby just so that his sons (me) would have some knowledge of hunting growing up. He wasn't very serious, and it basically was a way for us to bond walking through a field together looking for pheasants or sitting gutting a few deer together.

Fast forward to now...I graduated from college, and decided that I want to make a point to being to be an outdoorsman and learn to hunt well, provide meat for my family that isn't from the store, and just enjoy and learn everything I can about the outdoors. I work as a Marketing Director, and live in the heart of the city....so hunting has become a HUGE escape for me, and I love it.

Anyway, this fall, I had a buddy take me out duck hunting for the first time. I had never been because I never had the gear that I thought I needed, and I didn't want to invest in it not knowing if I like duck hunting or not. Needless to say, in the first 20 minutes after it was legal to shoot, I was hooked. It quickly became my "primary" hunting preference, followed by pheasant hunting, and then deer.

The whole point of my post here is to ask for advice on different gear, styles of duck hunts (open water vs sloughs), and just overall knowledge about duck hunting.

I realize that the best teacher is experience, and I plan to continue to gain experience this coming fall, getting out as much as I can. In the meantime, I want to pick up as much knowledge and necessary gear that I can, so that I am as prepared as possible when next fall rolls around. My young lab is being trained this Spring, so hopefully she will be decent this next fall. I have a gun, a few decoys, some waders, and an ambitious attitude :)

I have a birthday coming up, which is an excuse to get a good duck call. I am looking between 50-75 bucks. What is the best all-around duck call that I can get for that kind of money?

I look forward to hearing from you guys - I wish next fall wasn't so far away!
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Re: New to Waterfowl

Postby hillbilly.. » Fri Feb 07, 2014 11:26 am

First off welcome....theres a few guys from the cities area. Kinda chose a slow time to join hard to get these guys to talk when it aint duck season..
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Re: New to Waterfowl

Postby zee-unit » Fri Feb 07, 2014 11:44 am

Thanks for the response! I realize this comes at about the worst time of the year for duck hunters.

I am not in a rush - just trying to learn and grow in my knowledge while I slowly die on the inside waiting for duck season to roll around again...
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Re: New to Waterfowl

Postby kbooger » Fri Feb 07, 2014 12:55 pm

You don't need an expensive duck call. I have a Buck Gardener DN2 and IMO it sounds great. $20.

Starting out (and I've only been hunting about 4 years) you will need to scout and find spots. This is probably the most important part.

Don't be afraid to go hunting by yourself if you don't have buddies that will go with or aren't as committed.

You will hear of people putting out an insane amount of decoys, you don't have to have a ton of decoys to be successful. At least not where and how I hunt, might be different in different situations (but not IME).

Not sure how much shooting you've done but I like to hit the range at least a few times before the season. Trap, skeet, sporting clays, all good.

Hunting around the cities can range from ok to bad. For great hunting you'll likely have to put on some miles. Honestly I consider it a good day of hunting close to the cities if I get to pull the trigger.
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Re: New to Waterfowl

Postby zee-unit » Fri Feb 07, 2014 1:05 pm

I hear you. I have a couple of low end calls (15 bucks) I am just looking to get one "do it all" call that will last while. It seemed like 50 bucks should be able to get me something decent. Who knows...

I agree with you on hunting the cities. I guess I don't know how far I should go...but I usually have to drive about 40 minutes to get to any of the "spots" that I was in last year. Do you mean you have to go even further?

A buddy and I had a decent amount of shooting with an hour of where we live in the cities...but we had no experience, so just shooting was a blast.

I definitely plan to get out this summer and get dialed in with my shotgun before the season starts...

Can someone help me - if you are outside the city limits....water is public land...so I should be able to hunt any body of water as long as I am X yards from a house, right?
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Re: New to Waterfowl

Postby chevyobsession » Fri Feb 07, 2014 1:10 pm

Welcome
I agree with kbooger, that you don't need an expensive call. I don't own a call over $30. Also huge amounts if decoys aren't needed. I have 19 mallards, 2 dozen bluebills, and a dozen goose floaters. I have never brought all my decoys out. I don't limit out every time but to me that's not what hunting is about.
If you ever get out towards the Hutch area let me know. I'll take you out. Can't promise loads of ducks but I can promise. Good time and some hard work.

Sent from my VS980 4G using Tapatalk
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Re: New to Waterfowl

Postby Feelin' Fowl » Fri Feb 07, 2014 1:13 pm

zee-unit wrote:I hear you. I have a couple of low end calls (15 bucks) I am just looking to get one "do it all" call that will last while. It seemed like 50 bucks should be able to get me something decent. Who knows...

I agree with you on hunting the cities. I guess I don't know how far I should go...but I usually have to drive about 40 minutes to get to any of the "spots" that I was in last year. Do you mean you have to go even further?

A buddy and I had a decent amount of shooting with an hour of where we live in the cities...but we had no experience, so just shooting was a blast.

I definitely plan to get out this summer and get dialed in with my shotgun before the season starts...

Can someone help me - if you are outside the city limits....water is public land...so I should be able to hunt any body of water as long as I am X yards from a house, right?


As far as a call goes, my suggestion is this...go to a store and try out as many as you can to find what you think you like. Then come back here and shop the used market.

There are a lot of guys that buy a call to try it, end up not liking it, then sell it here at a big discount.
luie b wrote:I think you guys were right.
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Re: New to Waterfowl

Postby zee-unit » Fri Feb 07, 2014 1:34 pm

If you ever get out towards the Hutch area let me know. I'll take you out.


Thanks for the offer! I am from Willmar, so I get around the Hutch area from time to time. I could definitely learn some someone with experience.

I will try to get out and try a few calls and see what I like.

Anything in particular I am looking for? Just my own comparability making it sound good?
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Re: New to Waterfowl

Postby kbooger » Fri Feb 07, 2014 3:05 pm

zee-unit wrote:I hear you. I have a couple of low end calls (15 bucks) I am just looking to get one "do it all" call that will last while. It seemed like 50 bucks should be able to get me something decent. Who knows...

I agree with you on hunting the cities. I guess I don't know how far I should go...but I usually have to drive about 40 minutes to get to any of the "spots" that I was in last year. Do you mean you have to go even further?

A buddy and I had a decent amount of shooting with an hour of where we live in the cities...but we had no experience, so just shooting was a blast.

I definitely plan to get out this summer and get dialed in with my shotgun before the season starts...

Can someone help me - if you are outside the city limits....water is public land...so I should be able to hunt any body of water as long as I am X yards from a house, right?



What would you say a do it all call is? My $20 call will make a hail call, quacks, feed chuckles, diver call, bouncing hen. I consider myself a decent caller, not going to win any contests.

The yards from a house doesn't matter you have to be in vegetation and more importantly you have to have access. But you also want to be respectful of people's property.
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Re: New to Waterfowl

Postby zee-unit » Fri Feb 07, 2014 3:10 pm

I am uneducated when it comes to duck calls. I just don't want a call that is a "mallard call" or "wood duck" call...Just one that I can do the basic calls with to get initial interest from passing ducks. I don't know. I have a lot to learn! :)

So basically if I can find a lake that I can reach the water without going on private property...I am good to go?
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Re: New to Waterfowl

Postby iFAIL » Fri Feb 07, 2014 3:26 pm

:welcome:
That horrible duck call, it was I!
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Re: New to Waterfowl

Postby kbooger » Fri Feb 07, 2014 3:52 pm

Well for calls I have a duck call, goose call, 6in1 whistle and woodie call on my lanyard.

The 6in1 works well for a mallard drake call and teal. For a woodie call the 6in1 is not very good tho. I'm not so sure you really need a woodie or whistle call. I use my hen mallard call the most.

On the water/property rules, don't take my word for it. I'm not a lawyer, I could be missing some info. I'm hoping other guys will chime in.
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Re: New to Waterfowl

Postby StuStiltman » Fri Feb 07, 2014 7:15 pm

Welcome! As for duck calls I would recommend taking a look at double reeds, to my ears they sound the most realistic and are easy to learn. If your interested in goose calls there are many good short reed calls in the 20-50 dollar range. There's a steep learning curve that goes with short reeds but the end results are worth it. You could also look into flute style goose calls, not as popular as they used to be but still very effective and easy to learn. As.far as legal access goes.there is no limit to how close you can be to houses on lakes that are legal to hunt on as long as you don't set foot on private property. There are many different opinions on how close is to close and we had a good discussion about that a couple months ago. Im sure youve seen many folks on here with impressive rigs and decoy spreads, keep in mind those are put together over years, a little at a time. Waterfowl hunting can be very expensive, dont think you have to drop that money all at once. Most guys buy a dozen decoys or so a year, maybe new waders the next, maybe a boat a year later. My best advise is to make friends who hunt ducks and get out with them whenever possible, this sight can be a good tool for that.
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Re: New to Waterfowl

Postby hillbilly.. » Fri Feb 07, 2014 7:18 pm

I bought a 50$ echo double reed and didnt like it one bit so i gave it to the boy to have on his lanyard. Then startd on a home made single reed... took me 2 years to sound decent. Now i find myself taking that double reed off the boys laynard because now it sounds good.
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Re: New to Waterfowl

Postby hillbilly.. » Fri Feb 07, 2014 7:21 pm

Like stu said find other guy to hunt with that way first year or 2 you can focus more on clothing good waders and jacket....nothing more missrable then being wet and cold befor the sun comes up.
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Re: New to Waterfowl

Postby StuStiltman » Fri Feb 07, 2014 7:30 pm

Good point by hillbilly, clothes are important. To start out with there's nothing wrong with faded old carhart jackets, I bet you could get an old beat up one for 10 bucks at a thrift shop and once faded they blend in pretty well with dead grass or cattails. There's some very sound advice been given so far, don't be shy about asking questions, guys on this sight are very good about helping each other out.
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Re: New to Waterfowl

Postby zee-unit » Fri Feb 07, 2014 7:35 pm

Thank you for all of the advice guys, this is a huge help.

I think the biggest thing I need right now is a solid call that I can learn on and grow into. It seems like the Echo calls (double reed) seem to be popular on different forums...and the diamondwood are fairly affordable. Thoughts?

I have a good set of waders, a dozen decoys, some decent enough old hunting camo I have acquired over the years, and a dog that is learning with me.

I think the biggest thing for me right now is learning how to call, understanding ducks and how they behave, and figuring out where the heck I should be scouting to go. It still just seems so weird that I can walk onto any lake and hunt. I need to figure out what constitutes outside city limits.

Thanks again for all the help guys - I am looking forward to hearing more!
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Re: New to Waterfowl

Postby hillbilly.. » Fri Feb 07, 2014 7:49 pm

How i learnd was in the blind with a guy that can call pretty good and id just try and mimic him movies on how to put me to sleep i have the bad grammer vid for goose calling and i cant make it 20 min into it.
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Re: New to Waterfowl

Postby doubletheshovel » Fri Feb 07, 2014 7:54 pm

Welcome to the sport and the forum good to have another duck hunter aboard. As for duck calls everyone has made great points and are all right. Try lots of different calls, double reeds are easier to learn to blow like stu said. I prefer a wood call like cocobola for my mallard call because I like the raspier sound it gives but that is just me. Another tip on calling is practice all the time (if married or about to be married go in basement). I drive a half hour to work each way during the off season and season my calls are in the car and I am practicing. I am not great but with all the practicing I have become much better. Stu is also correct getting decoys built up and boats takes a few years. So do not worry about going to buy the latest and greatest new thing out there to have a good hunt. I live out towards litchfield and am always glad to take a new person out in the blind. Welcome again and just get involved with the forum and you will find lots of guys on here are willing to help with tips and offer up a spot in their blinds.
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Re: New to Waterfowl

Postby StuStiltman » Fri Feb 07, 2014 8:09 pm

About calling ducks, my advice is after you've found the right call learn to do a.good quack and a.five or six note mini hail call. The key to calling ducks, at least in my experience, is to learn when to do the calls, that's more important than making the call sound perfect. That can only be learned thru experience, a shortcut is to watch someone who knows what their doing as hillbilly said. And also even after you've become great at calling that's still no substitute for being on the right spot, last November doubletheshovel, suicidal scaup and I landed about 3 dozen or so mallards in the decoys, we didn't call once.
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Re: New to Waterfowl

Postby mutthunt » Fri Feb 07, 2014 8:32 pm

Welcome to the forum. As a relatively new member I can assure you these guys are great. They give lots of advice, good BS, and great stories.

As a fellow downtown city-dweller, I'll tell you what I learned from my first season here. There are a bunch of public areas you can hunt within an hour of the cities. The problem is, so can everyone else. At the end of my first season, I made my minimum drive length 1h30m. You can maybe fudge that late season when the warm-weather boys pack er up.

Living in the cities makes scouting tough. Save up gas money now. You'll need it.

Regarding a duck call, go with a buck gardner or something similar/cheap. Learn on it. Then decide how much you want to spend. A lot of older duck hunters will tell you keep that call outta your mouth. Give em a quack or two, then tug the jerk cord. Ducks get pressured heavy around the cities, and they learn quick what a human sounds like.

Again, :welcome:
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Re: New to Waterfowl

Postby zee-unit » Fri Feb 07, 2014 9:21 pm

I am loving all of the advice here!

I hate the idea of having to drive 90 minutes to get somewhere to hunt...How early do you have to wake up to make that happen? Ducks are worth it, but man I am going to be tired for like 4 months straight!

I will definitely look into a lower-end call and just practice and get good at it before I invest too much into calls. I really just want one that I can count on.

Another question - how on earth do you guys last during the offseason? I am not even a seasoned hunter and I am DYING.
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Re: New to Waterfowl

Postby zee-unit » Fri Feb 07, 2014 9:22 pm

Also - I am pumped to be apart of this forum. You guys seem great. Lots of good advice and offers to burn a day hunting with me to teach me.
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Re: New to Waterfowl

Postby StuStiltman » Fri Feb 07, 2014 9:40 pm

Another question - how on earth do you guys last during the offseason? I am not even a seasoned hunter and I am DYING.[/quote]

It usually takes me a month or two to recover from hunting season (making up for lost sleep). I like watching hunting DVDs and TV shows. They don't at all depict what a normal day of hunting is like and the characters can be a little rough around the edges, but they can be entertaining.
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Re: New to Waterfowl

Postby hillbilly.. » Fri Feb 07, 2014 9:46 pm

If you go look at the posts on on duck hunting fishing photos you can put faces to names. And as how early to get up all depends on the spot. Ive been to a spot as early as 3am. And what we do in off season ive got back into ice fishing that bug bite me hard. After ice i bowfish that goes up till ice again. I use to trap but kinda faded away from that and duck season would interfere with that but ill have to make due this year i knw the boys gona wanta run the trap line before school.
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