Wood Duck Hunting Tips – Creek Hunting
Wood Duck Hunting Tips
by James Benben
The first major wood duck hunting tip you need to know is that they’re not a very decoy friendly bird. They will be at the beginning of the season, but after that different measures need to be taken. There are three main approaches to killing woodies. Pass shooting wood ducks in route from feeding/loafing or roosting areas, jump shooting loafing birds, and finally one of my personal favorites creek floating/jump shooting these birds.
Pass shooting birds in route can be the hardest of the three methods or the easiest if you have done your homework. The keys are knowing where the birds are and where they are going. So in the morning you’re looking for birds coming from a favorite roost site to a feeding site. The way I approach this is to look for your feeding site to be on the creek, where oak trees and beech trees are abundant. Wood ducks love acorns and beechnuts. They also like eating zebra mussels just like every other duck. I have cleaned countless birds of all species and have found zebra mussels. So now you have found an area with lots of oak trees and beech trees and there is some hard substrate on the creek bed that attracts zebra mussels. You’re lucky you have found three big food sources in one stretch of creek. Now just watch it in mornings and evenings. Also make a stop or two during midday because this could tell you the amount of birds that have piled in to feed and loaf. This intern will tell you how fruitful your area will be.
After all the information is taken in from scouting and noticing were birds are landing. Get on the X with 5 or six wood duck decoys and 3 or four mallard decoys for reassurance. The type of spread I like to set is a tight spread across the creek from me so the birds will land on my side. Also this way decoys aren’t so close when birds fly buy they are looking right at you. Bring with a mallard and wood duck call. Call appropriately and all that’s left is the shooting. The pass shooting spectrum of this is once you have used up your few first couple days decoying card up. Now leave the birds alone. Let them be for awhile and a slight change of approach is needed. The birds have been pressured now. I treat it like a deer I move up the flight path a short distance like moving up on a deer on his trail. Put out two or three decoys near some blow downs but where they can be seen. Just pass shoot because the chances of decoying birds are slim to none. Woodies are very quick to learn and just very quick so they can be in range and out in a flash. You have to sport a take what you can get attitude.
Now the flight has gotten stagnant. So you have changed the birds flight paths or flight timing. This means it is time for plan B and C. These are both extremely simple involving shotgun shells and camouflage. Wait till you know birds will be in a loafing area say midday noon to three o’clock. Proceed with caution and care, figure a good sneak route and shooting spot and jump shoot. This was explanation of plan B. Plan C is get a small watercraft I prefer a 14 to 16 foot flat bottom boat for use of two people. Then make sure nothing super shiny is on the boat. Camouflage the paddles hop in and start floating and jump shooting. Just be aware of your surroundings and houses for safety. I usually just float from one bridge to another.
Guns and preferred gear are pretty simple. Any gun will do but a good smooth fast swinging 3 inch magnum over/under 20 gauge suits me very well. It points quickly, and is fast nimble athletic setup. The new steel loads are great to because they cut the lead down to nothing. My ideal shotgun would be a new Browning Citori Featherlight. Then I would couple that with Remington Hypersonic steel #4 shot with modified and light modified chokes. Right now I use a Stoeger Condor with same shell and modified and improved cylinder chokes. After that all you need is a good camouflage flat bottom boat, some wood duck decoys, mallard and wood duck call, and you’re ready to go. The main things to remember are to do your scouting, be safe floating, and follow these wood duck hunting tips for a successful outing.