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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all, I'm 16 and just getting into duck hunting. Here is a little video of the pond I'll be hunting at. It's on my own property so that will be easy. I am skilled enough with a shotgun because I have been skeet shooting for a couple years. Here's a little list of some questions.
1. What can I do to make it more enticing for ducks? I have seen a pair of mallards a few times a day but never more than 3 at a time.
2. Is it better to use a 12 or 20 gauge shotgun or is it personal preferance?
3. After you hit a duck, are you supposed to wait a certain amount of time before going to get it?
4. After you retrieve the duck to you have to gut it right then or can you put it in an ice chest and wait a few hours?
Cloud Water Sky Plant Natural landscape
 

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12 or 20 is preference, generally a 12ga is more common and ammo options for waterfowl. Go after ducks immediately and be prepared for finishing shots on cripples.

You can wait to gut your birds but the sooner the better. If it is cool out no need for ice.

More water would make it more enticing, but may not be possible?

Hide yourself well and enjoy!
 

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A LOT depends on if there is anything in the area (within a mile or so) that does draw a lot of birds. Refuge, Food/AG, Rivers (especially that don't freeze), etc.
 
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Welcome to the frustrating and expensive world of duck hunting. I love it and hopefully you will. My answers:

1. It is a small pond so not really much you can do other than plant some sort of vegetation that will feed the birds. I am not an expert on what to plant but there are plenty of options out there online.
2. Personal preference.
3. No, its the opposite. If you don't retrieve a wounded duck quickly, you may lose it. If it is dead, just let if float until you get a break in birds flying as long as you know what kind it is and stay under your limit.
4. If not too hot, you can wait a few hours but as previously stated. The sooner the better.

I hope this helps and enjoy the sport.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
A LOT depends on if there is anything in the area (within a mile or so) that does draw a lot of birds. Refuge, Food/AG, Rivers (especially that don't freeze), etc.
I am in central texas so nothing around freezes. there are not any rivers or anything like that around but there is a pond about a mile away that I often see half a dozen ducks at. unfortunately I cannot hunt on that property.
 

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I am in central texas so nothing around freezes. there are not any rivers or anything like that around but there is a pond about a mile away that I often see half a dozen ducks at. unfortunately I cannot hunt on that property.
I had a very small pond that I made and pumped water into during the season. A little larger than your pic but don't know if you captured the entire hole. The only reason it was successful was it was adjacent to a protected wetland so birds used the area often and had multiple ponds to rest and roost. It was also close to active farmland so there was good bird "traffic". Wasn't ever going to pull down birds from up high nor attract bringing down more than a 1/2 dozen birds from a flock of 15-20.

In order for a small spot like that to work, you have to have birds in the area all the time. But even then, you have to be careful not to burn it out. You might see a nesting pair this Spring but usually ducks will mate anywhere. I see them at a Wendy's drive through in the bushes every year as well as a neighbors back yard in suburbia...lol.

Personally I'd figure out how to plant for Doves there.
 
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In order for a small spot like that to work, you have to have birds in the area all the time.
To expand on this.

A half dozen ducks on a nearby pond is not "having birds in n the area."

Get up before sunrise and drive the area and see what is flying around. You might be surprised. Hopefully. If you are not seeing quite a few ducks flying around, you just don't have huntable numbers. Now of course they migrate, so they can be here today gone tomorrow. But now is probably your best time.

Also, use the satellite imagery. Google Earth is your friend. Is there water in the area? Go scout those areas. Temporary sheet water can hold birds.

One little pond with one little pond nearby with 6 ducks. That's not going to work.

I was in Lubbock a month ago. Tons oh cranes and geese, so who knows in your area. There needs to be something around to hold thousands of birds. 100 here. 100 there. See if you have that first.

Otherwise keep an eye on your pond and if you see a few ducks on it. Sneak down and shoot a few.

Good luck.
 

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Your pond is just too small to attract ducks in huntable numbers. By that I mean, multiple flocks every day of more than three birds each.
Do what you can with it, hunt it as often as you can, just don't be surprised if you don't get more than one or two shots a week at that spot.
Those one or two shots might be worth it, though! Good luck!!
 

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1. What can I do to make it more enticing for ducks? I have seen a pair of mallards a few times a day but never more than 3 at a time. Only a very small percentage of waterfowl hunters do that. I know that what you read, watch, and are told differs, but look at it this way. Currently, the five -year average number of waterfowl hunters is only around one million across the USA. Of that one million, do you think the number that manage water or land numbers in the hundred-thousands, ten-thousands, is around one thousand, or rather numbers in the hundreds or even dozens? I am sure it is much fewer than one thousand and might be less than a hundred for all I know. Start thinking about waterfowl hunting differently. There are hunters (or guides) with managed habitat / water, fixed blinds, etc.. But the vast majority are mobile and that is what you should be doing at 16 years old especially.
2. Is it better to use a 12 or 20 gauge shotgun or is it personal preference? When I was your age, 20 gauge ammo was less expensive and just as readily available as 12 gauge. That is not true anymore. Particulary with non-lead ammo, the sub gauges including the 20 gauge, can be scarce on the store shelves and cost more than 12 gauge. Besides, 12 gauge gives you more punch - not as much as hunters will lead you to believe (because they don't test anything out, if they did, they would realize the difference is smaller than believed). So, I would suggest you go with a 12 gauge. I would also recommend staying away from semi-autoloaders and pump actions. Best is an over-under, second best is a side by side. Chose a model that does NOT eject shells or have a gunsmith modify your gun so it doesn't eject shells. I use a modified choke for ducks and an improved modified for Canada geese. Number 7 steel shot target loads for ducks and three (not three and a half) inch shells with number two steel shot for Canada geese, and stay away from high velocity ammo.
3. After you hit a duck, are you supposed to wait a certain amount of time before going to get it? Under the strictest interpretation of the law; you are required to immediately retrieve downed birds, make sure they are completely dead, and keep them with you and not mixed up with another hunter's birds.
4. After you retrieve the duck to you have to gut it right then or can you put it in an ice chest and wait a few hours? You do not need to gut birds or put them on ice for a long time. I am in the north, but even here as late as October, temps can and do get into the 70's (F). Birds can sit with guts in them, in fact, some hunters and some cultures leave birds intact for several days before gutting them. Some cultures cook birds with the guts still inside certain birds. That said, on rare occasions I have found that birds left all day when it is warm stink more when you clean them. The meat is fine, but the bird cleaning task is annoying, especially if the warm weather woke up the flies... Another law you need to be aware of relates to butchering birds in the field or before you get home > you must leave a wing and/or head attached to the bird. For some upland birds (pheasant) it might be legal in your area to just leave a foot. But if I were you, I would leave the head and one or both wings. Personally, I do NOT field dress any birds. I don't feel it is necessary, even when it is warm and buggy. I also do not want my dogs distracted then or the next time I return to the area. It also might fall under some littering violation as well. But whoever is going to cook your birds, should do some research - ducks and geese taste great, but they are slightly tricky to cook right. When they are cooked properly they are good, but when not cooked the right way they are not good. You seem to be thinking ahead, keep it up, but that includes the cooking aspect, especially with ducks and geese. If you use wax to remove feathers, don't catch anything on fire, read up on how to do it safely. I gut my birds first and then a butcher them with a method some people call "butterflying" and others refer to it as "spatchcocking". You should learn how to process your birds using that method, in my opinion. Small remnants of guts are easier to wash and pick out, you use almost all of the meat, and everything cooks evenly. Look it up. Good Luck and Happy Hunting!
 
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