Hunt With Permission
Once you have scouted a spot, you need to get permission to hunt there. When asking people if you can hunt on their property, take your presentation seriously. Try to look nice and smile; first impressions last a lifetime. Wear street clothes instead of hunting gear, and leave your guns at home. Let them know that you will follow any rules that they may have and that you will treat their property with respect. When you do hunt on their property, be generous and take them a dressed duck or two to show appreciation.
Another way of securing a spot is by leasing or buying places to hunt. You could also look into public access areas. Many areas offer access to refuges, public lakes,and land for people to hunt on. It is easy to look up those online or talk to a wildlife officer about the process. Most of the time wildlife officers know where the ducks are, and they are almost always happy to share that information. No matter what you do, be where the ducks want to be for the best results.
Find the Right Firearm
The most common gun for duck hunting is a 12-gauge shotgun. Some guys may use a 20-gauge for teal or for a challenge, but I suggest a beginner use a 12-gauge as long as the person’s frame can handle it. I also recommend using a semi-automatic shotgun, but a pump-action shotgun will do the trick. When duck hunting, you must use non-toxic shot—it’s the law. You want to choose your shot size to match the species and where you are hunting. When hunting teal, I advise using a smaller pellet. Choose a number four or three shot when shooting faster and smaller birds. When hunting mallards or ducks of a similar size, shoot with number two shot, as this will give you the knockdown power needed for the bigger birds.
Don’t forget about chokes. Chokes are an add-on to a gun. The choke screws into the bore at the muzzle of the shotgun. The choke can either cause the shot pattern to stay tighter for a longer shot or spread in a shorter distance for a closer shot. As far as selecting which choke to use,it all depends on where you are hunting. If the ducks are going to be finishing right in your face, a cylinder choke will work great. If they are going to be finishing thirty or forty yards out, a modified choke may be necessary. You want to try to match your choke to the area that you are hunting and where the birds will be finishing. For more specifics on chokes, check out this guide.
Select a Decoy
Decoys are a huge part of duck hunting. Never let anyone convince you that the priciest decoys are the best decoys or that they are going to guarantee that you will kill more ducks—many people have killed a lot of ducks over a painted gallon jug. For your first set of decoys, you want to get quality for the price that you pay. When you see a pack of full-body ducks priced close to $120 for six decoys, don’t give up! They aren’t all expensive. Companies like RedHead sell a dozen floaters for close to $30.
As far as the type of decoys, you will benefit from having motion in your decoy spread. What I mean by motion is something that causes a ripple in the water or movement in the decoys. The reason that motion is so important is that a group of two or three dozen real ducks does not sit still. A live duck will flap its wings and swim around everywhere, so the challenge is to imitate that with your decoys. You want the ducks to see and feel that your decoys are live ducks. A simple but very effective motion decoy is a “robo duck,” also called a “mojo.” These are decoys that are electronic and make water currents or have constant wing motion.
You could also go the DIY route by making a jerk rig (here’s an example from Ducks Unlimited). A jerk rig creates current and movement in the decoy spread, but that little bit of motion can make the difference between ducks finishing in your face or circling eight times before buzzing off.
Perfect Your Call
Duck calling is both very fun and very humbling. When your calling brings them in, it can make you feel like you are a “duck whisperer,” but when your calling scares them off—which most likely will happen if you are a beginner—you will feel like you need a new hobby.
If you are going to get into calling, practice is key. The more you practice, the better you are going to be. Duck calling is almost an art—you have to know what to do, when to do it, and how loud or how soft you should be. There are many ways to start into duck calling, but one of the easiest is to watch instructional videos. There are so many great free videos on YouTube. You can also buy tapes or even get involved in a calling class. But above all, the more practice you put in, the better you will be.
Always Hunt Legally
The biggest thing I can tell you is make sure you hunt legally. Duck hunting is highly regulated and has high fees when those regulations are broken. Make sure you complete your hunter education, have the right licenses or permits, and know all the rules and regulations, bag limits, and possession limits. Know how to identify the ducks when they are flying and when they are killed.
And remember to have fun when you are out there. If you kill up to your limit, that’s amazing, but if you only kill a few, or even none, still enjoy those times. Whether you’re hunting with your dog, your friends, or family, every hunt should be a joy. It’s also a great idea to get youth involved in waterfowl hunting: It is a pastime that needs to be carried on. Click Here…