Some of the best waterfowling can actually occur as the final weeks and days of the season rolls around, especially as the weather becomes colder and winter storms rolling across the country and out of the North more pervasive.
Don’t let pressured ducks keep you from filling your brace. Try these tips to score big before the season winds up.
Hopefully you didn’t burn up all of your vacation time over the holidays and the boss is willing to work with you on some short notice days off. Why? Because when weather fronts up North or pushing from the Northwest begin pushing into your area, look for new ducks and geese, unfamiliar with your area to start flying in. These birds have likely been shot at, but can also be susceptible to well-placed decoy spreads as they seek areas to rest and feed. Floods of new birds can translate in some of the most epic shooting of the season.
2.Go Big During a Freeze
Cold weather freezing up the local ponds and streams means it’s time to hit bigger water like lakes, rivers and bays where ducks might raft up to have ample water inwhich to feed and rest. Most of these areas are serviced by public boat landings meaning more hunters have a fair shot at good shooting. Trick your boat out as a floating duck blind or set up on a point or open water cove bordering land you have permission on or along public land.
3.Keep a Spot Open
Don’t have big water you can readily access or the right set up for it, no worries, get to your spot earlier and bust the ice up providing a spot for searching ducks to drop right in. Set our decoys in a way that allows ducks to land into the wind and leaves a sweet spot right in the midst of the open water you’ve created and you can enjoy some excellent gunning.
4.Keep in Motion
Ducks and geese move and create ripples in the water that catch the attention of flying ducks and geese. This motion also looks natural and puts incomers’ minds at ease. On any day, use a motion decoy with wingsspinning above the water to catch attention or a goose flag if going after larger waterfowl. When the winds are still, you can still go lo-tech and attach a jerk string to decoys to give them motion as high fliers check out your
spread. You can also hang your foot in the water and pump it back and forth to provide ripples to the water around your spread.
5.Get Crazy with the Camo
Ducks and geese have seen everything late in the season and
have likely been hammered hard. They’re spooky so you can’t go too far in keeping hidden. Use local foliage—reeds, marsh grasses, corn stalks, limbs, brush—to better cover up blinds and keep yourself hidden. A good pair of pruners or ratchet cutters are essential waterfowling gear at this time of season.
Be ready for shots at the edge of your range as ducks and geese remain reluctant to commit or flare suddenly from their approach when they notice something that doesn’t look right. You need a good load, like Winchester BlindSide, that is designed to deliver tight patterns at longer distances. On windy days or for these potential longer at-edge-of-range shots, heavier shot (No. 2, No. 1 or BBS) will stay on aim and carry farther than lighter loads.