Duck Hunting Tips
Duck hunting can be a fun day outdoors, especially if you follow a few points to help you be more successful. Keep in mind that you will be outside near water in some cold days so water proof clothing, gloves, and a hat are highly recommended. Waders are ideal, but high waterproof boots can work as well.
Most important is the setup. Finding the place to go Duck Hunting. If you can find a hunting lodge or private land and pay for the opportunity, Great! Everything is taken care of for you. If not, you will need to find public land to go on. If this is the case than remember that the more remote the location, the fewer hunters that will be there. This in turn means the better the chance of being successful.
You will also need to set up on a pond or lake as ducks land on water. Bring a boat or a dog as you will need to retrieve the ducks once they have been shot. If the water is shallow enough, you can wade out but make sure you are familiar with the area before hand. You don't want to shoot a duck and then not be able to retrieve it.
Another important factor in choosing the spot is wind direction. You want the wind at your back. Ducks land into the wind and you want them facing you when you take your shot.
Once the spot is located, you must decide on which type of blind you will use. Ground Blind, Tree Blind, or Ground Cover. A ground cover is a small tent or cabin you sit within that from above blends in with its surroundings. This is so the ducks won't see it while flying over. You can build one with wood or other materials and cover it with local brush, or purchase a ground blind from any hunting supply store. If you are purchasing one, make sure the camouflage matches the surrounding environment.
A tree blind is simply finding a tree or large bush which you can hide under its overhang. Again the goal is to be hidden from the ducks as they fly overhead. It is important to be wearing camouflage so the ducks do not spot you as they descend.
Ground cover refers to lying on the ground and piling brush over your body. There are several ground cover set ups that you can purchase that accomplish the same thing. The goal is to make yourself undetectable to the ducks until you sit up and take your shot.
No matter which type of blind you are using, make sure you are wearing camouflage and face paint (or something to hide your face). The human face is very recognizable to ducks and if they even get a glimpse they will spook and be gone. Also, leave plenty of shooting room in all directions.
When setting up decoys, keep the wind to your back. Set up a dozen decoys or more. Decoy quality is very important so choose fewer decoys for higher quality. A dozen quality decoys are better than 20 cheap ones. Set them up in the shape of a U with the bottom bend pointing towards you, into the wind. Make sure there is enough room inside the U for a duck to land. Again, make sure the U is set up with the bend at the bottom facing into the wind as ducks land using the wind to slow them down. You want them facing you as the land.
Now you are all set up and it is time to start calling. There are the steps to calling in Ducks. First is the Hail Call (or Hi Ball), followed by the Greeting Call, and then the Feeding Chuckle. You should learn all three to increase your chances of being successful at duck hunting.
Hail Call (Hi Ball)
The point of the hail call is to get the ducks attention from far away and begin to bring them in. You use this call initially until you see you have their attention and they begin to fly towards you.
At about 150 yards you can begin using the Greeting Call. This is perhaps the most recognizable and consists of 4 or so quacks, each one a little softer and more quiet than the one before. QUACK!, QUACK, Quack, quack. This reassures the ducks and they may begin to circle overhead.
This is the noise that ducks make when they are on the water. It will reassure the ducks and they may come down to land.
Each of these calls may work on their own and you should find which brings the most success for you. As with anything, practice make perfect so don't wait until you are in the field before you being blowing your calls.
When the ducks are coming in and it is time to take the shot. Keep the following four things in mind.
First, Calm down. It is exciting when you are hunting and the Ducks are coming in. It is normal to get the rush of adrenaline. But being all fired up may lead to you shooting too soon, misjudging distance, throwing off your aim, or forgetting to lead your shot. Take a deep breath and take your time.
Second, Wait for the cup. As the Duck comes in to land they will spread their wings and drop their tail, cupping the wind. They do this to help slow themselves down. As soon as you see those wings come out and tail drop, it is time for your shot. This is referred to as the landing shot. If you miss, you will have to follow up with a leaving shot. If you miss, the duck will lift its head and begin to climb, turning to the right or left (Whichever is the direction away from you). Take your shot while it is climbing. If the ducks gets up in the air and it is flying away, leave it. Better to leave it for another hunt than to risk injuring the duck and having it die slowly off in the distance.
Third point is to lead the shot. Only a head shot will drop a duck so make sure that is where your shot is going. If you are shooting the duck in flight, get the head by leading your shot by roughly 6 inches. Imagine the duck has a dollar bill on the tip of their beak and aim for the other side of the bill.
The fourth point is to Shoot Them. When hunting in a group or with a partner, make sure someone is designated as the caller. It is their job to tell everyone when to shoot. They will say something like Take them, Drop them, Brush them, Cut them, Get them, etc. Essentially they all mean the same thing, shoot them. They do this so that one hunter does not shoot well before all the others and scare off the other ducks, ruining it for every other hunter. When in a group or with a partner and the time comes, only shoot what is in your firing line. Do not cross barrels with anyone else. Keep in mind the range of your shotgun as well. Shotguns are good from 30 to 40 feet. 50 feet is a very long shot. Beyond that is out of range. Out of range means ineffective and although you may injure the duck, you won't kill it.
We hope you found these points helpful and that they bring success to your hunt and food to your table.