Late-season duck hunting

Back when I was in high school, my friends and I would spend at least a few evenings every fall trying to duck hunt.
We seldom used decoys (usually just a call) and we just would try to sit in a likely spot where ducks would fly over us when they are most active just before dark.
We always managed to get a few and had fun.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve gotten back into waterfowl hunting along with a couple of buddies who are geared up with good decoys and calls that definitely help increase the action.
We still go out in the afternoon and hunt until dark—waiting for that last half-hour of daylight when the action usually heats up and it’s been a lot of fun.
Early in the season, we have a greater variety of different ducks than we do at this point. But the best hunting is still to come over the next couple of weeks, in my opinion.
As it gets colder farther north and water starts to freeze, we usually see a big rush of northern bluebills and ring-necks, along with a few mallards. These can be huge flocks of birds that seem to like bigger bays and deeper water than the early-season ducks that like the shallow, rice-filled bays.
With the warm weather that keeps hanging around, we still haven’t seen that big rush of northern birds yet, in my opinion. Earlier this week, we were out and though the hunting was okay, it wasn’t nearly as good as it was in early November last year.
So I’m optimistic that things will continue to improve over the next couple of weeks.
We’ve found success looking for large flocks of birds just outside of the super shallow bays. Once we find them, then we’ll get the decoys set up and more than likely most of the birds will come back to the same areas where we found them.
The decoys work for bringing them in closer to us.
There is some thought that goes into setting up the decoys. We’ve found that setting up eight or 10 decoys in a line 30-50 feet long, with a group of four or five decoys clustered together at the end, really works well for getting their attention.
Many times they actually fly over the exact line that the decoys are in—it’s fun to watch.
Calls help to get the birds’ attention when they are off in the distance and flying in the wrong direction. Sometimes you can pique their interest and turn them around, so it’s always worth a try.
Some of my friends don’t care to eat ducks, but my wife and I like eating them. We have been using them in a stew, cooking them in a crock pot, and they are excellent (you honestly cannot tell the different between duck and beef when you cook them this way).
Wrapping the duck breast in bacon and cooking them in a frying pan is another easy way to cook them. The dark meat certainly has a unique taste but we don’t mind it.
The limit of ducks is five birds per person per day, with some exceptions for certain species. Hunters need to have a small game licence, as well as a waterfowl stamp, which is available at the post office.
The regulations are listed in full detail when you purchase your duck stamp.
Waterfowl hunting is not a widely popular activity in our part of the world but there is no shortage of great places to hunt—and I can guarantee you a good time with plenty of action.
My problem is I need to practise. My shooting percentage is not very good!