Advice for a Rookie Duck Hunter

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Advice for a Rookie Duck Hunter

Postby Winchester82 » Thu Nov 01, 2012 2:16 pm

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!
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Re: Advice for a Rookie Duck Hunter

Postby Teal_Blaster » Thu Nov 01, 2012 2:45 pm

They have a chuckle call that anyone can use. I think Primo makes it and the cost is $20. I would start out there. Also, a drake mallard call is very easy to learn and works like magic. Work on calling at home and watch internet videos. Calling really isn't too important. I would pick nice decoys any day. Most people over call. To me calling is a last option, only used when they are not committing. I like setting out 2 packs of decoys and creating a landing zone in the middle. Basically I use my decoys to block the area I don't want birds. Usually works out well. Sounds like the best investment you can make is a skiff. I forgot most of the questions, someone else can field them hopefully haha. Good luck. Have fun watching your bank account diminish haha :thumbsup:
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Re: Advice for a Rookie Duck Hunter

Postby merlyn » Thu Nov 01, 2012 3:31 pm

#1. contact the dnr or forestry dept and request a list of lakes in a 5 or 6 co. area that have wild rice beds.
(be cautious of deep mud!!!)
#2. Google map near by lakes, pick out a few,THEN check them out on fishing hot spots. f.h.s. can tell you the kind
of fish, ( pike and muskey=weeds) access points,boat landings etc.
#3.sportsman gazateers (spelling way off) can show you access to ponds and lakes that dont even have names.
#4 get a shaker call for feeding calls ,limit your calling to just quacks.
#5 jerk line to give movement to your spread.
#6 MOST IMPORTANT! drive around till you find a guy with a good rig -mud motor,built in blind,lots of decoys
du stickers on his truck -stalk his ass and steal his spots! kinda jokeing. seriously, find a person like that and
ask for help Face to Face ,if he blows you off go back to the stalking thing.
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Re: Advice for a Rookie Duck Hunter

Postby wigginsk » Thu Nov 01, 2012 4:06 pm

Really like the 6th tip there :clapping: , had guys do that to us in canada, but the rest are all really good ideas as well. I would also add simply asking some guys on here to join you on hunts or to see if you can join them. I've seen several guys invite people to hunt with them this year, its a good way to learn the areas and to make good friends and hunting buddies. Plus duck hunting is one of the most boring things you can do alone.
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Re: Advice for a Rookie Duck Hunter

Postby teamoutlaw » Fri Nov 02, 2012 8:03 am

I honestly enjoy duck and goose hunting alone alot more then anything else. I get bored chasin deer and stuff alone. atleast waterfowl i got the dog.
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Re: Advice for a Rookie Duck Hunter

Postby Winchester82 » Fri Nov 02, 2012 2:49 pm

Thanks for the tips. Great scouting tips from Merlyn. I've got some work to do. I have been using a shaker feeding call and limit the rest of my calls to basic quacks. I don't use a jerk line though....I'll have to look into that.
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Re: Advice for a Rookie Duck Hunter

Postby kitasdad » Sat Nov 03, 2012 4:26 pm

Go to a DU dinner or banquet (or a bunch of them) and just start talking to a few guys. Tell them what you said on here and what kind of info you are looking for. If they know you are seriously looking to learn, guys will be coming to YOU to talk YOUR ear off. Be careful of the amount of beers had by your educators, though. :lol3:
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