Panhandle Advice

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Panhandle Advice

Postby Duckchaser25 » Tue Jan 07, 2014 1:50 pm

Fellas,

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.

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?

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.

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?

Thanks in advance for the help/advice, Jeff :beer:
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Re: Panhandle Advice

Postby QuacknStrut » Tue Jan 07, 2014 7:42 pm

I can only answer the general woodie questions, but here goes.

I only use woodie decoys during early season and that is just to make me feel good. I think they decoy poorly, if at all. Others may disagree, but that has been my not inconsiderable opinion. I like to find where they want to feed. Roosts are for evening shoots and are very difficult to do legally (they come in after legal in most cases). If I find a quality roost, I try to figure out where they are feeding and shoot them there. Look for duckweed and tight quarters. You can often pass shoot then on creeks, but that is not as much fun to me. Think thick cypress with nearby oaks (oaks = acorns = woodie crack). I would not use a mojo or any motion on woodies, and I do use a woodie call, but they do not turn much to it. I don't so much blow it at ducks like other calls, just try to sound like a content hen every once in a while.
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Re: Panhandle Advice

Postby tmclaimerFL » Tue Jan 07, 2014 7:59 pm

Duckchaser25 wrote:Fellas,

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 :beer:




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Re: Panhandle Advice

Postby jedisme » Tue Jan 07, 2014 11:09 pm

Get up with me sometime.
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Re: Panhandle Advice

Postby Duckchaser25 » Wed Jan 08, 2014 7:06 am

Fellas,

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.

Thanks again.
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Re: Panhandle Advice

Postby waterdogds » Wed Jan 08, 2014 8:58 am

Duckchaser25 wrote:Fellas,

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.

Thanks again.



It's likely that divers will be attracted to and hanging out where they feed. I'm my area, a muddy and grassy bottom will generally hold more birds. By no means am I saying your spot isn't a good one, but my opinion is based on what I've personally experienced. Try grassy points, which will provide cover and puts you closer to the ducks acceptable landing area(decoy placement)

As far as your question on woodies, I try to ambush or pass shoot. Ambush, in my opinion, is the most productive way. Find where they go in the a.m. and be there waiting on them. I usually put out a few decoy where I'd like them to ideally land. Seems to work out about half of the time. Good luck and welcome to Florida.

:welcome: :beer:
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Re: Panhandle Advice

Postby Fowlweather_13 » Wed Feb 19, 2014 12:58 pm

Pm me I posted some of this seasons pics in the NW Florida Hunters post if you want to see the results. I hunt about 45 miles North East of Destin and I hunt the Bay near Freeport and Burnt Mill Creek.
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