Learning the duck hunting basics will only be the start of a fun and rewarding obsession. Duck hunting provides you with the rare opportunity to enjoy the pleasures of the outdoors, the camaraderie of your buddies, the exhilaration of firing off your shotgun, and the satisfaction of watching those birds decoy perfectly into your spread. Just below are some good duck hunting tips for beginners.
What you will need:
- shotgun (12 gauge preferably)
- duck calls
- decoy bag
- camo beanie or hat
- camo jacket or hoodie
- lots of layers (depending on the weather of course)
You don’t have to purchase all of these duck hunting gear from the get-go but will probably want to acquire them as you get into the sport.
Go with a pro
Go with a buddy that has a lot of duck hunting experience. He’ll know the area you are hunting and you can pick up a lot by just watching what he is doing. Ask a lot of questions!
This is definitely a skill that takes years of practice and experience in the field to master. Pick up a mallard hen call and practice, practice, practice! A lot of them now-a-days come with training DVDs and if they don’t, you can learn from a plethora of videos on the web. But remember, the key is to sound like a duck and not like a competition caller as explained on DuckHuntingFanatics.com.
Identifying ducks in the air can be difficult for newbies so make sure you know the rules and regulations in your area. You are only allowed to harvest a certain amount of some species so be careful. Making sure you’re always set up with the sun at your back will give you a better chance at identifying the ducks accurately. With time and experience you will learn the different flight patterns, sizes, shapes and colors of the different species.
Ducks can see a lot better than humans so make sure you’re hidden very well. Try wearing camo patterns that resemble your natural surroundings as close as possible. If birds are working, avoid looking up and be very still. Ducks are constantly trying to pick out something that looks wrong or unnatural with an area so if they see a white face looking up at them, they’ll most likely zip right out of there. Wear face paint, it helps!
There are thousands of ways to spread your decoys so just remember that ducks land into the wind. When you create your spread, leave a pocket for where you want them to land. Try to make it look as natural as possible and don’t be afraid to readjust your spread mid hunt if they’re not coming in like you thought they would. Some of the most basic decoy spreads are in the J-shape, U-shape, or V-shape. And don’t think you need 5 dozen decoys to have a successful hunt, although sometimes it may help!
Check with the fish and game department in your state, but most, if not all, have gone to requiring steel shot for any type of waterfowl hunting. Some shot guns can cycle 3 1/2 inch shells but the most common is 3 inch (if you’re unsure, the side of your barrel will normally contain that information).