By Harrison Hoegh
You don’t have to be an absolute guru to have fun and success while duck hunting. Duck hunting can be something you do once deer hunting is over, or to get away during thanksgiving weekend. The best way to learn is to go with other duck hunters. If you don’t know anyone who duck hunts learning to hunt on your own can be much more frustrating but also gratifying when you succeed. Here are a few basic things I think will ease the transition into becoming a duck hunter.
Talking with other hunters and DNR officers as well as following the duck migration online can clue you in as to when will be a good time to hunt ducks. Many of the public land options around Iowa have offices that you can call and get an idea for what’s in the area that week. Also scouting for the 9am landing zone of fields and ponds near the public land you are hunting can pay off. If the water you are hunting is crowded with public land hunters chances are many of them didn’t scout the neighboring fields to find where the ducks go after skirting their spreads. Take a morning to follow the ducks and ask the farmer for permission to hunt his pond for a day. Many hunters don’t ask because they believe land that close to public land has to get a lot of requests. But just last week Stuart received permission to deer hunt land bordering public land near Grinnell.
Watching youtube videos and practicing outside listening to ducks will get you good enough to bring a few ducks to your spread. Try not to do too much, mastering a basic quack is enough to get a few birds within range. The great thing about duck hunting is that motion is more important than calling. Attaching some paracord to your decoys and getting motion on the water will get ducks interested. The hardest part of calling is knowing when to call and when to shut up. The hunter with a great sound is worthless if he calls constantly and the hunter who can barely call can be pretty effective if he only calls when he has to. As you get better at calling you will recognize when ducks are committing and when you don’t need to call. This enables you to call less and makes you a better duck hunter.
Approach duck hunting like walking into a new location to hunt deer. Only the deer are coming from above and their moving forty miles per hour. Just find a good spot to hide from above and hold still. If there is no place to hide you can bring a layout blind for the bank, or back off the shore a bit downwind of your landing zone. What is nice about hiding behind anything along the bank is that most likely you won’t have to buy new camo. One of my favorite set-ups is to sit under a pine tree along the bank of a pond I hunt. Throw out a dozen decoys and move them around according to how each group of ducks tries to land.
Next week I’ll write about some more advanced approaches to hunting ducks. Let me know if you have read any other blogs on duck hunting, or have some ideas you would like to share on the subject. Good luck this week.