I know we’ve been planning a waterfowl hunting outing for a couple weeks now, but like I told you on the phone earlier, I’ve had a situation come up at work and won’t be able to make it. Since we’ve been out a couple times before, I know you’re gonna do great setting up the decoys. But just in case, here’s a little refresher to help you set up.
No matter where you end up going, keep these basics in mind. Wind direction is very important. Blowing at your back is best, and from the sides will work, but in your face is tough. Same thing with the sun. It is hard to shoot or see birds when you are blinded by sunlight.
Give the birds a place to land in your decoy spread – a nice, big, open pocket that can accommodate a small flock landing. Remember to keep your decoys close to you, but not too close. They should be close enough that you can shoot birds that come in on the edge of the spread, but not so close that the birds become hesitant to come in. Finally, be willing to make changes during your hunt. It may just require a minor adjustment or it may mean picking up and moving a few hundred yards down shore.
If you go to our usual spot at the beaver pond, you’ll just need to bring the bag of puddle duck decoys. It is the one with mostly mallards, though it has several gadwall and wigeon and a couple pintails in it. Set them up in an open “V”or “U”shape, with the closed end pointing into the wind. If birds are landing off the end of your decoys, you probably don’t have a big enough pocket for them to land in. Spread the arms out more and see if that helps. Also, you need something to get some movement on the water and in your decoys since that area is fairly protected from the wind. I’ve got a jerk cord in the bag, put it to good use.
Now we have been having some colder weather, and tonight will be pretty cold as well, so the pond might be frozen. In that case you might head for that big point on the lake. Make sure and grab the bag of diver decoys – the scaup, canvasback and goldeneyes, along with the puddle duck decoys. The puddle ducks can be set in a short “U” pattern. Again, have the closed end pointing into the wind as much as possible. Run the divers out at an angle from the shore a little on one side of the puddle ducks. This should have you set up for a good for most anything that comes your way there.
One other option is that field we have Mr. Bergin’s permission to hunt. I’ve swung by there on my way to work a couple times this week and have seen birds flying to it and feeding in it. Mostly Canada geese, but there were some ducks in with them as well. Take the bags of goose decoys and make sure to grab the bag of full-bodied mallards. The bigger the presence, the better. Since we have also have permission to drive on it you can take more out with you. You can still use the same pattern, but you’ll probably want to make clumps of 4-5 decoys to simulate family groups and arrange the clumps in a “U”. As always, keep the closed end facing into the wind. Mix the mallards in at the bottom of the “U” or put them just a little out front.
That should pretty well have you covered. Remember, a big part of the hunt is watching the birds and learning their habits so you can do better the next time.
Now get out there and enjoy yourself.