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Thread: Waterfowling 101 - Par 4, Putting it all together

  1. #1
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    Waterfowling 101 - Par 4, Putting it all together

    There are lots and lots of sub-topics that can be covered, but I think we are at the point to at least for now, getír done!

    Homework from last time was answered in that post string.

    Youíve got the gear, youíve done your scouting, youíve been practicing and can hit flying targets, season opens on thanksgiving let tie it in a bow!

    So youíve found a few spots that look good, the only way to know is to hunt them and see. Keep in mind some spots are good, some are bad, and some a good some times.

    You need to figure out first and foremost where and how you are going to hide from the birds! Sitting in taller grass is one of the best and easiest. Make sure you donít create a huge tramped down area, and put your boat a ways off to the side! Iím not a fan of permanent blinds, lots of work, may be hot, may be cold, certainly tells everyone where you are hunting, and unless you are one private property you have no rights to your structure. If you do build a blind make sure it blends in with the surroundings, isnít taller then the veg around it, and given the choice have some taller trees or shrubs behind you to kill your silhouette.

    Remember, movement is what gives you away so your blind is to help hide movement, also remember that the birds are looking down at you, not parallel. Take a walk on a bridge sometime and looking around below and see how much different the view is.

    Hunting from a boat can be the way to go, total mobility! BUT, you need to spend some time getting the craft rigged out to hunt out of. Everyone has a different view of what is right, none are wrong, they are just right for different folks. When youíre done, park you boat, take a walk a good ways away and look back at it, anything you see wrong, so do the birds!

    There are lots and lots of options to get hidden, those are the 3 most common. Keep in mind with all of them you want to minimize your disturbance, and look as much as possible like everything else around you.

    I almost forgot the 2 factors THAT MUST BE CONSIDERED when setting your blind location, 1. wind, 2. Sun

    Ducks like to land into the wind, so that means you want wind at your back or side, not in your face! This is very important, ignore this and the ducks will land outside your spread or keep on going. #2 Sun, nothing worse then the sun coming up in your face and blinding you itís a factor, quite variable with the day, but an important factor.

    So you are hidden, now what?

    Ahh yes, time to throw some dekes out and time to enter into the unanswerable discussion about what is the right decoy layout!

    Read on and you will learn the exact precise guaranteed to kill a limit everytime decoy spreadÖ.

    Nah, just fooliní

    Hereís the principles of decoys, they are universal, find what works for you and go on. There are whole books on spreads and a section in every duckin book going if you need more info.

    Principle #1 - Ducks need a place to land!
    Folks will throw out a huge spread of birds, leave no place but the edges for birds to land and wonder why they never get any shooting. Think about a landing zone, and make sure itís within range!

    Principle #2 Ė Ducks will always land outside your spread!
    So, make sure that your furthest decoy out is within killing range. This makes a great marker to know when to pull the trigger and when to let em swing again. And if youíre not sure what that distance is, 30-35 yards is about it with steel.

    Principle #3 Ė Ducks need to see the decoys!
    Decoys in close to shore, hidden behind veg do you no good! Get the decoys out where the birds can see them, and where they can do their job!

    Principle #4 Ė Look at the live thing!
    Iíve heard everything from your dekes have to be 10 feet apart, to they have to touch, oh wait they can never touch. Sleepers are best, sleepers never work. Just drake, no just hens, add a goose, no a heronÖ Point is? There is not right, nor wrong answer, all are either depending on the day and circumstances. What I do chasing sea ducks is far different then mallards!

    90% of the time when hunting puddlers I use the 2 blobs set up, main landing zone right in front, group of birds to the left, another to the right, outside each blob is another landing zone making 3 in total. Another version is the 1 big blob, I usually sit to the wind side and get the birds coming in. There are lots of others, mainly for divers and sea ducks and as best I can tell there arenít many diver or sea duck hunters around, so weíll save those for another time.

    So there are the basics, itíll get you hunting, and itíll get you into the ducks. There is still a ton of stuff I have not covered. Ask away, this forum has some serious waterfowlers on it thatíll give you all the help they can. Remember to the only rule that matters, Willingly help those that are first willing to help themselves!

    If this series has been of use to you then say so, if you need help ask, a forum is but the collective of participants and gives back only proportionate to what you put in!

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  3. #2
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    Re: Waterfowling 101 - Par 4, Putting it all together

    Great series of posts Ian. Thank you.
    To warm barrels and cold noses

  4. #3
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    Re: Waterfowling 101 - Par 4, Putting it all together

    Good points Ian.
    I built permanent blinds where I hunt but mainly because I don't have the boat to hunt out of (like Rick does). The ground is ok where my blind is but depending on the water, the ground can be flooded (remember last year...). I also hunt with a 73 year old and it's better to keep him comfortable (and hey, I'm not getting any younger either!). I head out early, if someone were to be in my blind when I got there, it would be too bad but most guys have enough ethics to build there own blind in their own spot away from where others are. Have yet to have a problem in the marsh.
    As for the decoy spreads, Ian hit it right on the head. Leave a spot for the birds to land and set up so you have a good shot at this point. If the birds keep landing on the edge or outside your spot, move the decoys around to make it more inviting to the ducks. Don't be lazy, it only takes a few minutes to move them and it can make the rest of the day much more productive.
    One thing Ian didn't touch on and it's more to do with ethics than anything else. Don't fire at birds that you know are long but figure "what the hell". These birds may continue on and drop into someone elses spread if left alone, also, sometimes birds are working another hunter's spread and your long shot will flare what may have been a good chance for them. Like Ian said, the best shots with steel pellets are under 40 yards both from a killing and retrieving point of view.
    Good luck to all the newbies, two more days and we'll have lots of new posts and pics to share.
    Dan
    Maddy doing what she does best!

  5. #4
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    Re: Waterfowling 101 - Par 4, Putting it all together

    Great posts, Ian.

    So one question about ethics. If it's quite obviously a constructed blind in good shape, I'd assume it ``belongs'' to someone and I wouldn't tramp in and use it. Whereas if it's just a stump that seems like a good thing to cower behind, and there's evidence others have cowered behind it, I wouldn't feel bad about getting there first in the morning and cowering. But there seems to be a grey zone between the two, at least down around Boundary Bay, where there's maybe some piling of sticks together, or there's something that looks like it was constructed with great care in the '70s, but is pretty much fallen into disrepair... Any thoughts on how know when to feel free to use it and when someone might legitimately be annoyed if you do?

  6. #5
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    Re: Waterfowling 101 - Par 4, Putting it all together

    rudar,

    I worked in this small town in Alberta one year, plenty of fine looking ladies there, one bar in town and I was single. Well there was more then one instance where I thought the only way out of the bar was either as the winner or loser of a fight. What I found out, was that although the girls we were trying to pick up were single, the guys in the town felt certain ones where theirs, even though the girls didn't agree. An invisible code that only an insider would know about.

    What's my point? An obvious blind, obviously built or maintained this year, fresh hulls in it, you won't find me in it or near it, and if I built blinds I would hope the same. A point, a stump or a general first come first serve situation in a public area, and thats what it is, first come first serve! Confrontation will happen sooner or later, that just part of duckin, take the high road, ask buddy to hunt with you.

    I'm very secretive about my spots, I treasure them and I work for them the main reason being is I don't want confrontation with idiots, I just want to hunt and have fun! Some places like B-bay the choices are limited, others you can have 3 or 4 spots that'll work that day and if someone is in one, go to another.

    I will say this folks look for places others hunt, they look for hulls and other signs and if there is an easy road many will take it. Keep your spots hidden, walk out your hulls (you walked in with them much heavier) and get there early!

    Very best,

    ian

  7. #6
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    Re: Waterfowling 101 - Par 4, Putting it all together

    Like Ian said, you can tell if it's been "tuned up" for the season. If it looks like someone put in a lot of time and money (like mine), you know it's used by serious guys and they will be out there often.
    If there is a lot of guys hunting my area (in the late 70's there were quite a few groups), it boiled down to us getting up early and being out there before anyone else. One thing about early hunters, most are serious and have their spots figured out. Two hrs before daylight isn't the time to find a spot, as Ian mentioned, scouting will put you in a decent place. Come up with a plan B and C so that if you head out and find someone near your plan A spot, you have options.
    Pay attention to where guys are and where birds land without being shot at and check the spot before you leave to see if it's huntable without treading on others space. Leave early next time and set up in the new area. Over time you'll see where guys are and where they aren't. It will take time but that's the way it goes with hunting. Nothing is easy!
    At least Ian has posted some good basics to help you newbies get started, add your own experiences as you go and in no time you'll go from a bird or two an outing to multiple birds, shooting doubles and bringing home a limit!
    Dan
    Maddy doing what she does best!

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    Re: Waterfowling 101 - Par 4, Putting it all together

    Very informative........thanks for taking the time to write this series.

  9. #8
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    diggerpax is offline "Shoot 'em in the guts"
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    Re: Waterfowling 101 - Par 4, Putting it all together

    Great posts guys, you are a lot of help. Have any of you used strings to make your ducks move, or used the pull string wing flapping decoys? Do they work? If so, how many ducks to you tie strings to? Also, I'm looking at an otter 2 man boat- have any of you used them? Thanks again for all the help.

    Pax

  10. #9
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    Re: Waterfowling 101 - Par 4, Putting it all together

    Work fine, everyone has their own way of setting up, most use some bungee between the decoy and the weight/pole. I have no experiece with the Otter boats other then seeing them in a few stores. You may wish to search the Refuge forums about otter boats, I'm sure there will be no shortage of opinons.

    Digger, were you the fellow looking at doing his PHD at UBC?

    Very best,

    Ian

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    Re: Waterfowling 101 - Par 4, Putting it all together

    Thanks for the tips, Ian! Is there a follow up thread on geese hunting?

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