THE JUMP-SHOOTER’S PLAY­BOOK

WHEN STALE DUCKS LOAF ALL DAY, THIS TAC­TIC WILL PUT BIRDS IN THE BAG BY ALEX ROBIN­SON

Outdoor Life - - BOW HUNTING INSIDER -

B ETWEEN THE AC­TION of open­ing week­end and the cold-weather mi­gra­tion in Novem­ber, there’s of­ten a dol­drums in the duck sea­son. Dur­ing this week (or two), you can ei­ther sit it out and wait for fresh mi­gra­tors, or you can pull your­self up by the wader straps and scratch out a few birds by jump-shoot­ing. Here’s how to make sure that belly crawling is worth­while. SLEEP IN ○ JUMP-SHOOT­ING is a mid­day tac­tic. It’s poor form to try to jump birds while other hun­ters are set up with their de­coys. Be­sides, ducks are more likely to be mov­ing in the morn­ing and evening. FIND THE HIDEOUT ○ YOU’VE GOT to lo­cate birds that are rest­ing in a spot you can sneak to un­de­tected. For jump-shoot­ers, smaller is usu­ally bet­ter. Find out-of-the-way pot­holes, ditches, beaver ponds, and creeks that see min­i­mal pres­sure. They’ll be more likely to hold ducks that you can ac­tu­ally put a stalk on. GLASS CARE­FULLY ○ WHEN YOU do spot ducks, spend time ob­serv­ing them through bi­nos. It’s im­por­tant to make sure you’re not go­ing to be stalk­ing an­other hunter’s decoy spread and to see how the ducks are be­hav­ing. MAKE THE STALK ○ USE TER­RAIN fea­tures to hide your ap­proach and play the wind. Ducks like to hang on the lee side of ponds and sloughs. In a strong wind, they’ll take off, get a gust at their back, and cruise to safety. The per­fect stalk forces the birds to es­cape into a stiff head­wind, stalling their get­away. SHOOT ONE DUCK AT A TIME ○ MISSES WHILE jump-shoot­ing hap­pen be­cause of rush­ing or flock shoot­ing. Take your time and think “one drake” be­fore you pop up to flush the birds. Af­ter the first drake falls—and only af­ter—move on to a sec­ond bird.

A waterfowl hunter pops out of the cat­tails for a shot at flush­ing ducks.

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