Close the Dis­tance

Eight ways to pull ducks and geese closer to the gun

Field and Stream - - WATERFOWL HANDBOOK - By M.D. John­son

There is no surer way to bag more ducks and geese than to get them closer to your gun. Sure, you might reach out and drop the oc­ca­sional bird at 55 yards, but 25 is a gimme. So how do you per­suade wa­ter­fowl to close those last 30 yards or 20 wing­beats? Fol­low the eight tips below to pull them tight. Then the rest is up to you.

1 GET REAL

You want the most re­al­is­tic de­coys you can af­ford, of course, but it goes be­yond that. Make sure they’re in good con­di­tion and clean. More im­por­tant, rig them nat­u­rally and in num­bers con­sis­tent with what you’ve seen while scout­ing. (You are scout­ing, right?) Too many dekes can be as bad as too few.

2 OPEN UP

Tight spreads don’t leave birds room to work com­fort­ably, giv­ing them even more rea­son to land on the edge. You don’t like crowds? Nei­ther do ducks or geese when it comes to air­traf­fic con­trol. Open up the spread.

3 CLEAR A PATH

Birds like to have an open visual and phys­i­cal route to their des­ti­na­tion. Step back and con­sider your setup from the bird’s per­spec­tive. Is there a bar­rier, near or far, that could dis­suade in­com­ers—a hedgerow in a field or tree­line in a marsh. If so, move over and give them a clear path.

4 FIND THE X

Be where the birds want to be. Not just close, but ex­actly. To do this, you must scout wisely. Just be­cause you spot geese in a cer­tain part of a field, for ex­am­ple, doesn’t mean that’s the X. Those birds may have moved hun­dreds of yards be­fore you saw them. Don’t just mark birds; ob­serve and study them.

5 MOVE IT

For duck hunters gun­ning calm wa­ter, noth­ing beats a jerk cord. Noth­ing. There’s a rea­son why ducks show up when you’re in the spread—rip­ples. And that’s what a jerk cord pro­vides. Don’t let them see you mov­ing in the blind, though.

6 LOSE THE SPIN­NER

Try a hunt or two with­out elec­tron­ics. Birds are drawn to spin­ners, but they don’t al­ways fin­ish well around them. If you start hav­ing techno-with­drawal, put the spin­ner where you don’t want the ducks to land—like the op­po­site side of the pond.

7 LEARN A SEC­OND LAN­GUAGE

Quack­ing is great. It works.

But whis­tles, peeps, trills, and soft growls or purrs can bring ducks in those last few yards. Same goes for the drake mal­lard’s dweek, and the nasally

dink-dink of the drake gad­wall. For geese, try a flute call.

8 EX­UDE CON­FI­DENCE

Ducks see all-mal­lard spreads all day. Show them some­thing dif­fer­ent. Pin­tail and shov­eler blocks show up great at a dis­tance. Coot de­coys put pud­dlers at ease. On land, Canadas feel cozy around seag­ulls, crows, and pi­geons. Add any of these to your spread and watch your shoot­ing im­prove.

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