mallard-duck-pair

Mallards Paired Up for Breeding

Late Season Duck Hunting

Late Season Duck Hunting Tips – With very little time left in the waterfowl season, I’d like to share some tips for the late season in case you might have the chance to get out one more time before the season ends.

This time of year the extended effects of winter have settled in, and it is generally colder, or has been colder for a longer period of time than at any other time of the season, which means most still waters are frozen.  This is when living near a large river is really a bonus for waterfowl hunters, and if you have a duck boat, you are in even better shape.  With a boat you can explore islands, sand bars, eddies, and cutout areas of the river.  The ducks will look for as still of water as they can find.  My favorite thing to do in this situation is put a small decoy spread of a dozen or two decoys on and near a sandbar with a slough on the side of the shore.  Conceal your boat blind or build a blind on the shore, and wait for the ducks to come in.

It is important to not over-call this late in the season.  One mistake a lot of duck hunters make is calling at ducks that are flying toward them; there is no need to call at ducks that are already coming your way.  It is when the ducks fly over or past you that you want to call to try to get them to come back.  If the ducks turn to come back, stop calling.  Late in the season the ducks are wary and they will circle above to look for where the calls are coming from, so you don’t want to risk giving yourself away by calling when the ducks are directly above you.

camouflage-duck-blind

Heavy Natural Camouflage on a Duck Blind

Some things about the ducks themselves are different late in the season.  First, they are in full plumage this time of year.  Second, they have chosen mates for the breeding season and are paired up.  Third, this late in the season the ducks have been pressured long enough to know what to look for and are very wary.  There are two main things you can do to help your chances.  First of all, at the beginning of the season take six new decoys and set them aside, don’t use them until this time of year.  They will be fresh looking, brightly colored, and will grab the attention of your prey.  If you didn’t do that, try sprucing up some decoys with paint, which can be a fun project.  In fact in the winter time I like to repaint my battered decoys, it’s a good winter hobby.  The other thing you can do is be ultra-concealed.  Make sure your blind is completely covered, preferably with natural materials.  A blind that worked in the early season may not work late in the season.  If you think you have too much natural camouflage, add a little more.

cleaning-a-shotgun

Cleaning a Shotgun

Finally, be sure to clean your gun frequently.  I know some semi-autos say that their gas operation self-cleans the guns, which is mostly true.  But I’m a little old school when it comes to cleaning guns.  I was taught to clean my gun after every use, and I do.  I was also taught the importance of a clean gun during basic training in the Air Force, so for me, my guns are always very clean.  I consider it another part of the hunting experience, and I enjoy cleaning my guns.  That’s my preference, but still, late in the season your gun hopefully has seen a lot of action, and oil-based lubricants in particular tend to gather dirt and shot residue.  For what may be your last hunt of the season, you definitely want your action working smoothly.

I hope you have a chance to get out at least one more time.  I will be after pheasant this weekend; I’ll let you know how that goes.  Happy hunting!