Duck hunting in the late season is very different than hunting at the beginning of it. Things are getting slower, the temperature goes lower, and even though there are great opportunities for a good hunt, the late duck hunting season is a bit different because even the ducks change their behavior – they have been called at and chased down for many months and they might have even learned how to avoid decoys.
This means that late hunting season requires a bit more effort.
Here are 6 tips to help you become better hunters in late duck hunt season:
Play it simple
During the late hunting season, hunters are advised to play it simple when it comes to calling ducks. One good idea is to use a simple call just to attract their attention and stop once they are headed towards you. Call them while they are hovering in the air and use a hail call to attract them once again. After that, keep calm. Don’t try to call them when they are near your location because they will surely notice you. What is also important to remember about calling ducks in late season is that you must try to be moderate and make a few soft calls and fewer natural sounds. Constant calling might irritate the ducks and even chase them away.
Take the hunt to the rivers
If you want to use the last weeks of the hunting season, move to the river. Ducks are regular visitors at the rivers during the severe freezing conditions. They are often located near willows and along banks and sandbars. Hunters take advantage of this and hunt them from a boat by setting just two to three dozen decoys. You can also put blinds on sandbars and try to attract the ducks with a few decoys floating in front of the blinds. Another useful technique for hunting ducks in late season is to hunt them while they are staying in the slack water behind wing dikes. This tactic works perfectly when the river’s level is low. In such situations, hunters put decoys where the birds were sitting and move to the other side of the dike, then walk towards the spot and wait for the ducks to return.
Follow the ducks’ behavior
Once again, don’t forget that in late season ducks are already called at enough that they are getting suspicious and maybe for that reason, they tend to gather into larger flocks. In order to finish the season with good results, hunters should make sure that they are aware of these two facts. So, try various techniques that combine skill and use of decoys: when hunting on water, set in the reeds nearby place three-dozen decoys preferably with white coloring to attract the ducks faster. Next step – place another group of decoys to the other side of the spread in order to leave space for the ducks to land among them. Now, the last step before the shooting is watching how the ducks react – if they land and settle, everything is ready for the hunt, but if they just continue to hover above the water, that might mean that the decoys are not spread wide enough. If they don’t want to land, once they are higher in the air, make more room between the decoys and see what happens next.
Use decoys wisely
Late hunting season requires a different approach to the use of decoys since the ducks have been called on and hunted for a long time now and they are already paired up for mating. So, most probably, the basic rules of using decoys at the beginning of the hunting season do not really apply at the end of it. The end of the season requires few new decoys such as a mallard drake one, two or three pintail drakes and one spoonbill drake. Hunting veterans keep this specially for the late season. They just put them in the field and make some space between that so that the ducks can land among them. Afterwards, they use just a few soft calls and set their target.
Use natural camouflage
Apart from the decoys and the proper location, late season duck hunting requires a good camouflage. However, the good aspect of it is that there are tons of ways to use natural camouflage – always cover the blind with the grass characteristic for that site and use cattails and willows to cover yourself because in late season, ducks often circle around the blind and they might notice you. Overhead cover is of extreme importance for duck hunters in late season, because once the ducks notice that something is unnatural, they’ll just fly away and the day will probably end with no success for hunters.
Keep your guns clean
Keeping your shotgun clean is rule number one for all hunters in all stages of the hunting season. In order to make your guns last longer, make sure that you clean them regularly and use proper products in extreme freezing conditions. Hunters are advised to use non-petroleum cleaning products for regular cleaning and dry lubricant during the late hunting season. Finally, hunters that use shotguns with synthetic stocks are advised to remove the butt pad and drain the water that collected in the gun stock. If this procedure is not done on time, the water left inside might freeze and completely disrupt the shotgun’s function.