Looks like I will be living free. Some questions

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Looks like I will be living free. Some questions

Postby badbullgator » Sun Aug 04, 2013 7:29 am

My job is taking me to the Boston area and for what should be obvious reasons I am choosing to live across the border in NH.
I am an avid fowl hunter and dog trainer from Florida. We have great duck hunting, but it is far different than most other places in the US. locating spots where you can hunt where gators won't eat your dogs or ducks is a challenge.
Anyway, I am looking for advice on how and where to get started in NH. Are there any duck hunter groups like Delta that are state oriented? Are WMA's worth hunting up there? What are your primary ducks. I know you have a shore region and inland so I am guessing the shore birds are mostly divers. Mallards, teal, and.....inland?
Anything you think would be helpful to know would be appreciated.
Thanks
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Re: Looks like I will be living free. Some questions

Postby ShortBeardCommander » Sun Aug 04, 2013 9:31 pm

Hey Badbullgator,

I just started duck hunting NH last year so hopefully I can save you some of the learning curve.

To start off I found scouting to be more important here than most other places in the country. I believe this to be true because we don't have many fly-way birds. Most of our ducks I've found to be locals (i.e NH being as far north as they come). I had many instances last year where I would see the same groups of ducks (minus what we shot the day before) fly into the same feeding areas in the morning.

The second factor is ice. I'm not sure how the seasons work down in Florida but here we are split into an early and late. Our late season you will be lucky to make it more than a week into without breaking ice. I thought I was a genius last year when I came up with the idea to hunt the back marsh areas of the saltwater inlets to dodge the ice. Turns out most of NH's duck hunters also know this.....

Long story short, the first week that inland freezes up, the Great Bay turns into Normandy.


For duck types, this is what I found last year......

Inland for early season last year I found a split of 65% wood ducks, 30% mallards and 5% other (unless you hunt a river, you will see a lot more divers). We did shoot two teals last year on the opening morning but that was it for them. During the weeks between early and late season it seemed like the wood ducks mass exodus NH because when late season hit we only saw one. During late season its mostly Mallards until it ices up and then blacks and divers with a mallard mixed in every once in a while.

Out in the saltwater areas you will see a lot of black ducks as well as different types of mergansers and buffleheads. We do have some other ocean ducks if you actually hunt off shore but my knowledge in that area is very limited.


Hope this helps, I'm sure some of the more veteran hunters with correct me or guide you better.


Good luck and welcome to the state!

Brandyn~
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Re: Looks like I will be living free. Some questions

Postby HuntsCTRiver » Sun Aug 04, 2013 10:57 pm

I hunt mostly the inland zone so, my info isn't going to be very helpful but here it goes.
Blacks and mallards make up 80% of my bag in a season. Geese are great fun to hunt. Access to property is not usually an issue but most anyplace you find ducks you can hunt, (i.e. not in your local town park) you are likely to find other hunters. Hunting mid-week is usually your best bet for hunting, unmolested by other hunters.
I believe the average number of waterfowl killed per licensed duck hunter in NH is 3 or 4 birds per season. Don't expect to shoot your limit every day. My best 2 seasons here I shot 46 & 50 ducks and geese all year.
The WMA's can be great or they can be terrible. Shoot me a pm if you have any specific questions about particular WMA's, if I have hunted it, I will give you any info I know. I hunt private property 90% of the time, but don't have exclusive rights to any of them. Pretty much if the farmer gives you permission they give it to anyone who asks. Just because a property is posted doesn't mean you can't hunt it. Find the landowner and politely ask. The worst they can tell you is no. sometimes they say yes.
I live on the west side of the state, far from where I am guessing you will be living. Sea Ducking is great here, but i don't own a boat so I don't do it.
I buy a VT license as well so I can hunt during the split here in NH, if I were living down on the mass border I would buy a mass license to extend my season.
Welcome and good luck scouting!
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Re: Looks like I will be living free. Some questions

Postby JustinNH » Mon Aug 05, 2013 7:48 am

Some good advice in the above two posts... pretty much hit on any and all points I was going to list out. :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
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Re: Looks like I will be living free. Some questions

Postby Rise and Shine Retrievers » Mon Aug 05, 2013 8:39 am

Without getting into specifics.
Early season...
Be prepared for other hunters, even at remote ponds. I always work with whoever else shows up, either hunting with them or trying to respect everyone's boundries. I haven't had any issues yet using that approach. After the first week, most of the local birds have flown the coop and it's hit and miss. If we get a cold snap at the end of Oct, before the first split closes, the area will get a new bunch of woodies around. No cold weather, go muzzleloading for deer instead.
Late season...
Is weather dependant. Between the first and second season I pray for a freeze up. The birds then head for open water, that's either a fresh water river or the coast. Once again, prepare a back up plan in case your spot is occupied by someone else when you arrive. Late season inland consists of mallards, blacks and a few merganzers. On the coast, mallards, blacks and buffleheads.
I don't set up specifically for geese unless it's early season (sept).

Good luck
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Re: Looks like I will be living free. Some questions

Postby badbullgator » Mon Aug 05, 2013 11:00 am

Great replies. Thank you so much. There will be a learning curve I am sure. I think everybody has the problem of too man people and too few places. Even here on lake Okeechobee where you need an airboat and GPS to get to the good spots you still have days were yo set up only to have someone set up right next to you.
All that aside I am just happy to to have gators to eat the ducks or dogs before you get them.
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Re: Looks like I will be living free. Some questions

Postby nhbones » Mon Aug 05, 2013 12:49 pm

agree with a lot that has been said so far - for me early season in the southwest NH is mainly wood ducks and geese with some mallards and blacks, although the last 2 years the larger ducks have been sparse early on - also yes to teal early on, but it's hit or miss

from the mid week opener thru the 1st w/e some competition from other hunters after that, w/e's most pressure

2nd season if it isn't iced up is more blacks the last few years with some mallards & still lots of geese late. If ponds freeze up, rivers better bet.

If you go to the coast, yes lots of competition there & with a 1 black duck limit can make it tough - still geese late. Mallards, Buffleheads, goldeneye & merganser coastal rivers...

As for sea duck hunting...if you have the rig for it, scoters off the Rye ledges, pretty sure you can get Eiders off Isle of Shoals, but that is further out and not sure about Old Squaw (still can't come around to call them long tail ducks...)

Best of luck
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Re: Looks like I will be living free. Some questions

Postby badbullgator » Tue Aug 06, 2013 6:54 am

Ok, so I am guessing I will need to update my decoys. We don't have green heads down here and our primary ducks are teal, woodies, and mostly ringnecks. We have Florida mallards, or mottled ducks but the limit is usually one or two.
My spread right now is heavy on ringers and I have a good set up of teal and woodies. What would you guys suggests for a typical inland spread and saltwater spread?
I am thinking obviously mallards, but what kind of mix would you suggest. I love goose hunting but I have only done it in Oklahoma and Arkansas with people well equipped for doing so. Can geese be hunted there without a 100 decoys?
I would love to try some sea duck hunting at some point while I am there, but I hope I will be able to find someone to take me or a guide. I wouldn't want to call it a bucket list thing, but it is something I would like to do once just for the experience.
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Re: Looks like I will be living free. Some questions

Postby Rise and Shine Retrievers » Tue Aug 06, 2013 8:57 am

I would love to try some sea duck hunting at some point while I am there, but I hope I will be able to find someone to take me or a guide


Lots of good sea duck guides in Maine, and better hunting too.

My goose hunting consists on fields during the early season with 2 - 3 dozen decoys. During the regular duck season if I think there's a chance of geese around, I'll throw out a few dekes. Mostly floaters in with the duck decoys but full bodies standing on shore during low tide work also.
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Re: Looks like I will be living free. Some questions

Postby HuntsCTRiver » Thu Aug 08, 2013 10:11 pm

yes, geese can be hunted here with small decoy spreads. I started out with a dozen nasty looking super magnums and killed geese. my buddy has shot a few geese over 8 home made silos. Right now my goose rig consists of 3 dozen cheap fb and 2 dozen cheap shells. My advice on decoys is buy feeders. I like 6 feeders for every alert decoy.
As far as upgrading your duck decoys. Personally I would go with 6 blacks and 6 mallards. Your woody and teal spread will be just fine here early season. Hang on to the ringers, I think they will work just fine on the coast. When hunting inland water I like a very small spread. 3-12 ducks with 2 to 4 goose floaters off to the side. Thats just what works for me. I rarely see big wads of ducks much before the last couple weeks of the season.
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Re: Looks like I will be living free. Some questions

Postby badbullgator » Fri Aug 09, 2013 5:39 pm

HuntsCTRiver wrote:yes, geese can be hunted here with small decoy spreads. I started out with a dozen nasty looking super magnums and killed geese. my buddy has shot a few geese over 8 home made silos. Right now my goose rig consists of 3 dozen cheap fb and 2 dozen cheap shells. My advice on decoys is buy feeders. I like 6 feeders for every alert decoy.
As far as upgrading your duck decoys. Personally I would go with 6 blacks and 6 mallards. Your woody and teal spread will be just fine here early season. Hang on to the ringers, I think they will work just fine on the coast. When hunting inland water I like a very small spread. 3-12 ducks with 2 to 4 goose floaters off to the side. Thats just what works for me. I rarely see big wads of ducks much before the last couple weeks of the season.


Thanks so much. Looks like I have some shopping to do. I will pick up a dozen mallards and blacks along with a dozen geese. I generally use a pretty small spread down here so not that much of a change in that regard.
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Re: Looks like I will be living free. Some questions

Postby badbullgator » Fri Aug 09, 2013 5:41 pm

Rise and Shine Retrievers wrote:
I would love to try some sea duck hunting at some point while I am there, but I hope I will be able to find someone to take me or a guide


Lots of good sea duck guides in Maine, and better hunting too.

My goose hunting consists on fields during the early season with 2 - 3 dozen decoys. During the regular duck season if I think there's a chance of geese around, I'll throw out a few dekes. Mostly floaters in with the duck decoys but full bodies standing on shore during low tide work also.


Thanks. Maine would be my choice too. Always have wanted to try it and might as well while I am in the neighborhood.
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Re: Looks like I will be living free. Some questions

Postby Cantshootwell » Fri Aug 09, 2013 7:19 pm

I only really hunted Great Bay after the first big freeze. If you decide to hunt Great bay, there are some things you should do that WILL save your life.

Scout that SOB first, great bay is very dangerous in the winter, so knowing where you want to go and where the channels are is a life saver.

If you have a GPS, mark all the channels you can. They remove the channel markers in the winter because of ice flows.

Get an idea where the buoy clusters are. Nothing will make you fill your pants faster than snagging a buoy at 3am in pitch black. Side note, bring a knife in case you do.

Wear your life jacket when in the boat.

Weather in great bay can change in a heart beat, so know what the day holds. Get familiar with all the boat launch location. If Adam's point is too choppy, launch in New Market, ect.

Tide Chart...enough said

When you get stranded by the tide, and you will, be sure to have more than enough food/water/warm clothing to wait it out. I've spent many cold nights on the bay waiting for that damn water to come back in.

When you're wading out of the boat, keep in mind there are a lot of DEEP mud holes. It's very easy to post hole yourself on great bay. There are also a crap load of sudden drop offs. Basically, if you see seaweed, assume there are mud holes.

Bring a cellphone in case of emergencies. I've the coast guard pull into the deeks because they had a lost hunter.

If I can think of anything else, I'll let you know.

PS That bay water murders guns/metal in general.
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Re: Looks like I will be living free. Some questions

Postby badbullgator » Sun Aug 11, 2013 6:41 am

Cantshootwell wrote:I only really hunted Great Bay after the first big freeze. If you decide to hunt Great bay, there are some things you should do that WILL save your life.

Scout that SOB first, great bay is very dangerous in the winter, so knowing where you want to go and where the channels are is a life saver.

If you have a GPS, mark all the channels you can. They remove the channel markers in the winter because of ice flows.

Get an idea where the buoy clusters are. Nothing will make you fill your pants faster than snagging a buoy at 3am in pitch black. Side note, bring a knife in case you do.

Wear your life jacket when in the boat.

Weather in great bay can change in a heart beat, so know what the day holds. Get familiar with all the boat launch location. If Adam's point is too choppy, launch in New Market, ect.

Tide Chart...enough said

When you get stranded by the tide, and you will, be sure to have more than enough food/water/warm clothing to wait it out. I've spent many cold nights on the bay waiting for that damn water to come back in.

When you're wading out of the boat, keep in mind there are a lot of DEEP mud holes. It's very easy to post hole yourself on great bay. There are also a crap load of sudden drop offs. Basically, if you see seaweed, assume there are mud holes.

Bring a cellphone in case of emergencies. I've the coast guard pull into the deeks because they had a lost hunter.

If I can think of anything else, I'll let you know.

PS That bay water murders guns/metal in general.


Very good information. Thanks
I am well aware of such dangers, other than the cold of course which is a huge deal. I do not think I would attempt hunting the bay without going with someone experienced. Taking channel makers out for winter is not something you see here! The rest is very similar to down here, you could be lost for days in the glades or even on lake Okeechobee if you don't know what your doing.
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Re: Looks like I will be living free. Some questions

Postby tgs » Thu Aug 15, 2013 10:16 am

Rise and Shine Retrievers wrote:
My goose hunting consists on fields during the early season with 2 - 3 dozen decoys. During the regular duck season if I think there's a chance of geese around, I'll throw out a few dekes. Mostly floaters in with the duck decoys but full bodies standing on shore during low tide work also.


Good advice above from R/S, as well as everyone else's posts. I always have two or three goose floaters on the fringe of the spread, if nothing else they are good confidence decoys and also much more visible from a distance.

I would think your Mottled decoys would work fine for Mallards, a little green paint on a couple heads and you should be fine, unless you want new decoys of course. And :welcome: although I live in Maine, I hunt NH a lot as it opens the Sunday option and is only 20 minutes from the house. Be safe and Good luck this fall.
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