Late season tactics
The last half of the duck season can be a challenge and Mark Little writes that as ducks change their behaviour, hunters need to adapt their tactics.
Immediately following duck opening and especially post-easter, ducks become very wary. They have been shot at from every type of hide, over every decoy spread invented and have heard every duck call imaginable.
To be able to attract ducks into shooting range at these times, try the following tactics, and be patient.
Except on large open waterways like Cullens and Tuchewop, leave most of your decoys at home. When ducks are timid, instead of a massive decoy spread, I typically use only a Jerk Rig with four Magnum Black Ducks attached (for motion), three Fool-em Wood duck decoys (for confidence), and a pair of Fool-em Mountain duck Decoys (as attractors).
If I add a spinning wing decoy, I only use the Ozhunter Black Duck Spinner with a remote control. As soon as I see that the ducks have noticed my decoys, I immediately turn off the spinner via the remote control. There have been huge numbers of spinners sold (because they work!) but ducks can become suspicious later in the season with the continual flapping.
Later in the season, I find that calling to gain the duck’s attention then ceasing to blow the duck call immediately, works best to attract signs of interest. While I have witnessed hunters like Jacob Wade, Rick Bilney and Keith Farrugia ‘talk’ ducks right into the decoy spread, I believe that the average hunter/caller is much more likely to have success by being more conservative with their calling, especially when birds are timid.
That magnificent camo hide that worked so well on Opening Day can be a liability when birds become ‘blind shy’.
It is far better to utilise a layout blind on open waters or use natural cover at other times. Typically, I will seek a large patch of cumbungi, a shady tree or fallen timber to hide myself at these times — the large decoy tub is left at home and all my gear is in a shoulder bag.
My only contribution to comfort is an Avery Marsh Seat (averyoutdoors.com), to rest tired old bones — they are an awesome invention.
I hope these tips help you bag a few more ducks as the hunting gets tougher. Remember that wild, windy and rainy days will make the ducks a bit less cautious and always avoid having the wind blowing directly towards you.