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Waterfowl Guide

Bag more birds with Winchester Winchester’s Guide to Waterfowl Hunting

Like any sport, waterfowling requires specialized skills and equipment. However, while hunting ducks and geese is almost always challenging, the sport doesn’t have to be complicated or costly. The following is a guide to waterfowl hunting basics.  

If hunters are not thoroughly hidden from the sharp eyes of waterfowl, they will be unsuccessful, even if they have the most realistic decoys and expert calling skills. Regardless of their design and construction, the best blinds are almost invisible against surrounding vegetation and terrain.

The location of a blind is every bit as important as its construction. Good sites for blinds are strategic points along waterfowl flight paths and sheltered pockets and coves where the birds often rest and feed. Because waterfowl prefer to land into the wind, blinds should be positioned upwind of where decoys will be placed.

Many hunters find calling to be the most rewarding part of waterfowling. Few events are as dramatic as hailing a high flock of ducks or geese and watching them turn and cup their wings in unison as the sound reaches them. Calling enables hunters to communicate directly with the birds and bring them into close shooting range.

From pintail whistles to double reed mallard calls to Canada goose flutes, waterfowlers use a variety of calls to imitate the wide range of sounds made by ducks and geese. Waterfowlers should select calls that mimic the species that are most abundant in their area. Instructional videos, cassettes, and books are good sources of how-to information for novice callers. Also, listening to wild birds can help waterfowlers gain an appreciation for calling subtleties.

Since native American hunters fashioned the first crude replicas of ducks from woven reeds more than 8000 years ago, decoys have been an indispensable waterfowling tool. Modern waterfowlers can choose from a wide variety of manufactured decoys, designed for hunting on water or dry land. These include floating, shell, silhouette, and full-bodied decoys.

The best decoys are light, durable, and most importantly, lifelike and highly visible. Waterfowlers should select decoys that represent the species that they intend to hunt. Decoys are most effective when placed in a location and pattern that imitates a flock of feeding or resting waterfowl.

Having a well-fitting shotgun is critical to becoming a proficient shot. A variety of shotguns are suitable for waterfowling. However, 12 and 10 gauge shotguns, which are chambered for ammunition with more powder and shot, are recommended for most waterfowling situations.

The most commonly used shotgun chokes for goose hunters include the modified and improved modified chokes, while duck hunters should use improved cylinder, modified, and improved modified chokes.

The type of ammunition waterfowlers should select depends on the size of the birds being hunted and the distance at which they will be shot. Clearly different shot sizes are required for decoying teal than pass shooting geese. The most commonly used shot sizes for waterfowl include (from smallest to largest) No. 4, 3, 2, 1, BB, BBB, and T. the smaller shot sizes are recommended for ducks, while the larger ones are used for geese.

Shotshells also come in varying lengths, including 2 3/4 inch, 3 inch, and 3 ½ inch shells. Waterfowlers typically prefer 3 and 3 ½ inch loads that carry heavy shot charges for greater pattern density.

Winchester Ammunition offers loads ideal for all types of waterfowl. The Supreme and Super-X Drylok Super Steel shotshell offer ultimate knock-down performance under any foul-weather hunting conditions. Outstanding features of Drylok Super Steel shotshells include an exclusive two-piece, double –seal wad ensuring complete water-resistance, and a higher volume barrel protecting shot cup. These features are also incorporated in Winchester’s New Supreme High Velocity Steel loads. These are designed to be the fastest, hardest hitting steel load on the market, and are available in T, BBB, BB and #2, 3 & 4 steel.