Tag Archives: duck hunting

Duck Hunting with a Bow

Is this a trend in hunting?
Turns out this is a thing: bow hunting for ducks.
So, you practice with your bow all the time? I thought I was pretty good with my bow. Then I watched Tim Wells video below.

Duck hunting with a bow is a huge challenge. Shooting well with a bow like Tim, takes a lot of practice. Its amazing to see him take out several birds while they were flying. Being able to shoot a bow well makes you appreciate having a shotgun.

I know people who have a hard time leading a duck with a shotgun; not to mention, one of those birds was hit perfectly in the head. The beautiful slow-motion footage just rubs salt in the wound.

Let’s face it: this is some amazing footage and even better shooting. Now, watch the video again and keep an eye on his bow. That’s right; he doesn’t use sight pins. Awesome! How many of you have tried duck hunting with a bow?

by Jake VanDeLaare

Source: Tim Wells Youtube

4 Waterfowl Hunting Tips – Waiting is the Easiest Part

Duck Hunter Killing time Rather than Killing Waterfowl

Here’s an excerpt from Phil Bourjaily of Field & Stream on 3 Rules of Waterfowl Hunting that he likes to abide by.

1. Scout fields yourself. Don’t rely on second-hand intelligence.

2. If you think it’s time to pick up and move, move. Don’t wait.

3. Never leave your decoys.

These are great advices but here’s our take on waterfowl hunting in California from avid hunter Brian Lull where his perspective is more to the common waterfowl hunter in his area.

California is typically No. 2 or 3 in terms of numbers of ducks killed each season. The only state that beats us consistently is Louisiana, home of the infamous Duck Commander crew. So to someone who doesn’t speak duck, one might think that we California sportsmen kill limits every morning we slide into our waders.

As avid waterfowlers know, that simply ain’t the case. Our sunny California weather plays a huge role in why we don’t kill limits every day at Colusa, Sutter Butte and Gray Lodge refuges. Blue bird days are more common than not these days.

The typical duck hunt often starts with a flock of teal dive bombing into the decoys and leaving just before legal shooting time. It’s almost as if they have little wrist watches.

And once shooting time arrives, we get to watch as flocks of high fliers return from their night feeding to the refuge. Oh, sure, one lone shoveler might commit spoon-a-cide and come join our flock of plastic unblinking decoys. Yet by and large, most flocks will head straight for the safe areas of the refuge when the weather’s nice. So besides telling off-color jokes with our hunting partners to pass the time, we at California Sportsman have a few suggestions for killing time in the marsh:

1. Kill something besides ducks

Regulations permitting, there are several birds that can be hunted not far from your dead spread. Here are a couple:

Snipe are a favorite prey of mine, but no one seems to hunt them here. Back East they are a revered game bird; out here, not so much. I often get a funny look when I tell someone I limited on them.

The truth is snipe are often found in many of the same spots we hunt ducks. That mushy, muddy, flat on the back of the slough you’re hunting is a perfect spot. Snipe feed on invertebrates in the mud by probing with their long beaks.

You will encounter snipe as singles or pairs – three are a veritable flock. When flushed, they often fly out in a zigzag path while scolding you with a screech or two. But they have a peculiar trait. If for some reason you don’t shoot on the initial flush, they will often fly back over the top of you for a high crossing shot.

2. Enjoy armed bird watching

California’s marshes are the some of the most bird-rich wetland in the world. Shore birds, raptors, upland birds, those LBBs – little brown birds – that flit through the blind as you’re scanning the empty skies. The variety is staggering and figuring out what kind of bird you’re looking at is a great way to pass some time. With smart phone technology, the answer is right at your fingertips.

3. Think of improvements

Is your blind really that good? Does it look like a blind?

Ducks see you from above, so while your hide might look great from the horizontal plane we inhabit, what really matters is, does it look like another of those black boxes of death waterfowl have seen since they left Alaska or Alberta? Overhead cover and shadow is the key to killing to educated ducks.

Reconsider your calling. Does it really have a positive impact on the flocks? Our pride often gets in the way of killing birds. Most often the best thing most hunters can do is to just put the kazoo away. Heavily hunted ducks don’t often wish to call attention to themselves. The real ducks will show you how to hunt.

Then there’s the subject of decoys and placement. Take a drive by areas closed to hunting and see how the birds really look while resting. They look relaxed. They also mix in with other species.

Some days you have to float every decoy in the armada to get any attention, but many times smaller is better. Motion – and the right motion – is the key to making your set look alive. I will take six decoys with a way to make them move so they make ripples over a spread of 200 lifeless-looking ones any day.

4. Walk your worries away

Go on a walkabout. If you are near free-roam areas and the day is slow, why not go see what the next pond over looks like? I have discovered many small pockets of water that hold birds by doing this over the years. Marshes are ever-changing ecosystems. Ponds grow over, new ones form.

You may be looking at a satellite picture of your area that is 10 years old. We rely too much on technology. There is no substitute for boots-on-the-ground reconnaissance.

There is no wasted day in the duck blind. And keep in mind, it beats being at work, so take time to enjoy those all too common blue bird days. It makes you appreciate the limit-out days all that much more.

Story by Brian Lull

10 Ways to Help your Duck Calling

Duck hunting season is here and one method of tactics used in luring ducks to you is duck calling. There are many ways to go about this depending on who you ask and the area that you’re from. Joe Balog from the Duck Blog has some tips that he acquired from experiences and interviews. Here is his take on getting more results from your duck calling.

Duck calling is still something of a mystery to some. You’ve burned countless hours practicing with your call in the truck, watching instructional Youtube videos, and making, well, noise out in the marsh. Occasionally, your calling results in a fly-by that’s close enough for a pass shot. But that’s not what you’re after.

You’ve seen good callers command ducks into the decoys—and that’s what you want to learn to do yourself. This list of tips, compiled with the help of top waterfowl guides, call makers, and thousands of field hours, will help you be a better duck caller.

You Can’t Quack for Squat
The range of sounds replicable with a duck call can be overwhelming. While more advanced calling sequences can work, the easiest sound is grossly underrated: the simple quack. When a single hen is allowed to land in your spread, you’ll usually get to hear her raspy, guttural quack. It’ll be slightly urgent, as if she’s lost from her friends. Yet that sound is often overlooked in modern calling routines.

The Fix: Start at step one, and learn to quack. Doing so will often bring ducks to the spread when seemingly nothing else will. On still, calm days, or in areas with heavy hunting pressure, a single-note quack in repetition is deadly. Don’t leave home without it.

You Bought a Call Because It’s Pretty
Your buddy is a pretty good duck caller, and he firmly believes his $150 custom call is the best one made. But when you try his favorite acrylic masterpiece, the sounds you make … well, they’re not good. Regardless of your buddy’s instructions, you simply can’t make a decent sound with his duck call. When afield, the ducks sure aren’t buying it.

The Fix: Find a call that fits your “air”—not the one that looks pretty or your buddy likes best. This was a tip given to me several years ago by Duck Commander’s John Godwin. While most of the guys in the Commander crew blew a modern DC model, Godwin chose an older model call that performed best for him and his calling method. Call manufacturers offer calls with a variety of reed, barrel and end-piece designs. The best way to determine your best fit is through simple trial and error at a dealer with several different calls.

You’re Learning from Duck Hunters, Not Ducks
Information abounds these days, including information about duck calling. The source for much of that information is provided by folks in the contest calling realm. Now, almost without fail, those guys are good at calling ducks. But a contest-calling “routine” can sound absurdly over the top—particularly if you haven’t learned the basics yet.

The Fix: Build your knowledge base by listening to the real thing: ducks. Spend as much time as possible near a refuge or park that holds lots of birds, and not just during duck season. Download a voice recording app on your phone, record the sounds you hear, and use them to provide instant access to the sound of live ducks. Imitate what you hear—and save the contest routines for down the road.

They Don’t All Quack
Here’s something else you’ll notice if you spend time at a refuge: you hear many more sounds than those of hen mallards. You’ll hear teal peeping and wigeon and pintails whistling. Drake mallards make a gweeb sound that really gets your blood flowing, and gadwalls are vocal with a soft, distinct quack of their own. You’ve never tried any of those sounds while hunting.

The Fix: Try them. Many companies produce calls to mimic wigeon, pintails, drake mallards and gadwalls. Give them a try, especially on calm days when calling can be tough. Late season mallards can be real suckers for a good drake whistle, as the males seem to more vocal when pairing with mates for the spring.

You’re a Grunter
Everyone knows it’s wrong to “blow” into a duck call; doing that simply produces kazoo-like sounds. So you grunt, deep from within your gut. Occasionally the noise you create sounds like a duck. More often, it leaves you out of breath and sounds like a guy grunting on a duck call.

The Fix: While it may come as a great surprise, the more advanced callers become, the more they actually blow into the call. Veterans learn to “play” a duck call like an instrument, using forced air that is pressurized in the throat or roof of the mouth, rather than in the stomach. A tell-tale sign of proper technique is the ability to produce ducky sounds at all volume levels, down to a whisper. Again, start with a single quack to learn proper air pressure. Worry about the other sounds later.

You Make the Wrong Sounds at the Wrong Time
So you’ve done some practicing, and can make pretty good sounds on a duck call. Yet, you still suck at calling ducks. You’re baffled by how often the birds simply ignore you, or even flare away. But while hunting with a veteran, chills go down your spine while you watch him turn birds into the spread with a single hail call at just the right moment. He says something about “calling on the corners,” but you’re not really sure what that means.

The Fix: Learn to watch and “read” ducks. Only give hail or greeting-style calls at birds when they appear to be leaving the area. If they are approaching, or any single bird in the flock is coming into the decoys, stay quiet, or at most, use single quacks and some feed calls. If the birds circle over and then pass by as if looking for another destination, hit them with a hail call; that’s the mysterious “corner.” When they turn back to you, tone it down again.

by Joe Balog – the Duck Blog

Duck Hunting Tips: 6 Old Tricks That Still Work

Waterfowlers have proven to be some of the most resourceful of all sportsmen throughout history, with their combined approach of calling, decoying, and plain old woodsmanship. Here are six old-school tips worth remembering as you prepare to hit the water for ducks and geese this fall.

Add motion – Before motion decoys, hunters used jerk strings and pumped their legs in the water to send ripples through their spread. Another great trick is to mount an electric trolling motor to your blind or on a wood frame painted to blend in, set it near your spread, and let the propeller run just below the surface. The motion will provide silent but continuous motion to your decoys and keep water from freezing, too.

Fake a water hole – Virginia water fowler Kurt Derwort can be found most days of the season hunting geese on the state’s famed Eastern Shore, where on frozen mornings old-timers used to use large sheets of plastic-cut in irregular shapes—to mimic a shallow depression of water in a field. To make the trick work for ducks or geese, Derwort says to find a depression, remove any big stalks and weeds, lay the plastic down, and put the weeds and a few decoys around the edge. Sprinkle the plastic with water to give it more reflection and shine. From the air, it will look like open water when everything else is frozen.

Muddy the waters – Ducks feeding in the shallows upset the bottom and make the water muddy. Clear water will look unnatural to ducks pulling a fly-by, so stir the muck up in your spread by stomping through it and grinding your feet around during slow, flightless periods. Skim the submerged soil with a paddle, or if you’re on an ATV, drive it in figure eights to stir up silt, which will linger for at least a half hour.

Multiply with mud hens – Another old trick is to hunt a marsh at low tide and flip a shovelful of mud onto an existing mud mound or in a very shallow spot to make it look like a duck floating among a scattering of real decoys. Derwort says mud hens or mud ducks are a cheap way to make it look like there are more bodies in your spread than you’ve actually put out.

Ratchet it up – One of the best pieces of water fowling gear to carry along with your calls and shells is a pair of ratchet cutters. Whether your blind needs a quick spruce up just before legal shooting light or the ducks prefer landing in another part of the lake and a move is in order, cutters allow you to quickly and quietly snip limbs up to a half inch thick that can be used to brush-in a favored spot or set up an impromptu blind along an open bank where the ducks are waiting to land.

Look lazy – On warm, still, or cloudy days when ducks can see every detail and flights are few and far between, add a few sleeper decoys to your mix, as well as field decoys lined up on a log. Real ducks tend to loaf like this on such days, and adding these dekes to your mix will make your spread appear far more realistic. A cordless drill enables a quick and easy setup. Just drill a few holes in an existing log and insert your decoy stakes into the holes. Sleeper decoys will also help add to the realism of your goose spread—and can be effective straight through the tail end of the season once ice becomes a factor. A spread of standing, floater, and sleeper decoys can be just the ticket to fool late-season birds that have been shot at for weeks on their way down the flyway.

Story by Doug Howlet