I’m looking for some advice for anyone who wants to chime in. This is my second year of duck hunting. I don’t have any family or friends that duck hunt, so I have been going at this alone. I spend a lot of time reading message boards and Internet articles to try and become a self-taught duck hunter. I have always been concerned with duck hunting the “right” way and proper etiquette while hunting (no sky busting, no setting up on top of others, no calling ducks working someone else spread, etc.) I went into this telling myself it was all about spending time outdoors with my dog and any ducks we shot were just a bonus. While that is still the case, I find myself wanting to increase my success rate.
I live in the Milwaukee area and unfortunately do not have nearly as much time as I would like to dedicate to duck hunting. That being said, I am usually limited to hunts/scouting within about an hour of Milwaukee (I know this limits my options….especially on public land). I do not have a boat, so I am limited to walk-in spots (I guess that is strike two). I am definitely not asking for advice on spots (although I would listen if anyone wanted to tell me!) since I am starting to realize how much hard work/effort it takes to find good spots.
I have been out 4 times this year with pretty limited success. I plan on getting out another 5-6 times before the end of the season. I got 4 BWT on opening morning, but it felt more like dumb luck than skill….a flock of about 12 were sitting on the pothole I setup on that morning…at about 9:30 they decided to fly right at me and I dropped two….the rest landed on the opposite side of the pothole and then decided to challenge me again about 30 min. later. I had 3 mallards decoy on another outing, but got so damn excited I finally had birds decoying that I rushed my shots and missed. No shooting on my other two outings. Each time I have been out, I have seen anywhere from about 10 – 40 ducks with most of them being WAY up high or off in the distance and very few (if any) seeming at all interested in landing anywhere near my decoys. This brings me to my questions:
- Am I targeting the wrong areas? How many ducks to you typically expect to see on a hunt? What ballpark percentage will typically decoy? I try not to call much (I’m not very good yet), and have played around with a few different decoy set ups. I’m thinking maybe I need to find areas holding more birds?
- Scouting. When I asked for advice last year, lots of you guys said scouting was key. I’ll admit I probably haven’t done as much scouting as I should have, but it is tough to find the time. I did do quite a bit more this year and found a few new spots (not sure any of them are any good though). Besides ducks, what sort of things are you guys looking for when scouting? How do you locate ducks, or areas that might hold big numbers? Any tips for figuring out where they are feeding, roosting, etc.?
I’m guessing the key to me becoming more successful is more time scouting and more time in a blind. I'm fine with that reality, just wondering if you guys have any tips that can help me learn faster.
Sorry for the long post. Thanks!