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Waterfowl Hunting Guide Ducks & Geese

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Hunting For Ducks And Geese

Hunter With Bagged Mallard And Retrieval Dog

Rather than refer to ducks and geese as waterfowl, of which family they are classified, we will be covering tips on hunting these 2 migratory birds of which there are many different species and sub-species around the world. The hunting techniques of ducks and geese are basically the same. You will in fact, at some places, see hunting for both geese and ducks at the same time.

Hunting For Ducks and Geese is usually in the fall and winter during their migratory time which is when they migrate to the warmer areas. We will cover these elements of the duck or goose hunt:

Think About your Shotgun - Huntland.com

Using A shotgun to Hunt for Ducks and Geese

With the advent of the shotgun duck and goose hunting took off, due to the ability to kill at a longer range. Typically birdshot is used in a shotgun (12 or 10 gauge) when hunting for these migratory birds.

Type Of Shells The Size of Their Load When Hunting Ducks & Geese

There are a few factors when considering which type of shell and the load to use when hunting ducks and geese these are:

  • The load of shot a shotgun shell: This is the size and amount of pellets contained in your shell.
  • Geese require a heavier load than ducks
  • The distance that you will be shooting at your target birds
  • It is illegal to hunt migratory bird with lead shot - so you will have your choice of tungsten, steel, or bismuth

We have included a chart below to help you determine the type of shotgun shell you may need to hunt ducks and geese be sure and check with your gun manufacturer's instructions before putting any shell into your shotgun.

Duck And Geese Hunting - Birdshot Selection Chart

Mallard Duck Flying

shotgun shell

Game

Tungsten

Steel

Geese

BB to 2

TT to 1

Ducks, Low

4 to 6

2 to 4

Ducks, High

2 to 4

BB to 2

Of course you will want to scout your hunting area and talk with other hunters about what type of shotguns and shells that they use to hunt the particular spot. Here is a good site on scouting before the hunt and on duck hunting in general  http://www.takeem.com/location/hotspots.php this involves some long term scouting for the serious hunter.

Again be sure and check with you shotgun manufacturer when loading any ammunition in your shotgun! Another note steel shotgun loads may damage older shotguns so be careful with this.

More Helpful Hints About Your Gun When Hunting Waterfowl

Due to the nature of the wet and muddy hunting area it is always a good idea to bring a gun cleaning kit along in case your shotgun is dropped in mud or water.

What may begin as a duck shoot may quickly turn into a goose shoot. Since these birds have the same migratory patterns and scouting is not an exact science. So another consideration is the type loads and choke tubes you carry with you. Geese are hard to kill with duck loads and nobody likes to eat a duck that has been killed with a goose load. Always carry plenty of ammunition also.

What Do We Do With The Duck Or Goose Decoys - Huntland.com

Duck Decoys & Goose Decoys In Landing Zones

What is a landing zone? Well this is where you have your decoys setup as an invitation to the ducks or geese flying overhead to come on down because we are here and it is safe here. The landing zone is the spot where there are no decoys to run into but within a comfort range of the fake ducks or geese.

So your landing zone is a pocket of space where (you hope) the ducks and geese choose to fly into so that you (who are hiding in your blind making bird calls) can shoot them. Proper decoy usage with a landing zone would include:

  1. Be sure that your decoys do not have a glare or shine to them. If so repaint them with a flat paint or replace them.
  2. Your landing zone should take into account how ducks and geese behave naturally. If they see a "flock" of decoys and decide to land there in the landing zone they are not going to do so unless all looks natural.

How to Setup Duck & Goose Decoys With A Proper Landing Zone

If possible it is a good idea to scout your hunting area the day before the hunt so that you may see how the ducks or geese are positioning themselves as they land. This will help you pattern your decoy layout before the hunt. There are several keys to setting up a proper landing zone for geese and /or ducks:

  1. Your landing zone or zones should be an open area or areas in your decoy spread that is open and unobstructed by anything including other decoys.  You do not want ducks or geese landing behind your decoys.
  2. These landing zones should be placed where you want your birds to land.  Note: This is relevant as to where you place your blind (thus yourself). This is of course to give the hunter easier shots at the ducks and geese.
  3. It has been recommended that your landing zones resemble a C or U shape.  Although there has been success with having landing zones in a V or J shape.  Again scouting and trial and error will help with this decision.
  4. In nature one will notice that ducks and geese tend to group together on the ground when nervous or alarmed this signals danger to those birds in the air. Place your decoys in "relaxed" positions; spread them out some and do not place too tightly together.
  5. Mix drakes and hens about equally in your decoy setup, also take into account the plumage the birds should have on them at the time of year you are hunting. Decoys painted to represent late season birds will be out of place during early season.
Duck And Goose Blinds And Camouflage

Duck And Goose Hunting Blinds

Duck And Goose Hunting Blind

Often creating a temporary, natural blind as a method of concealment is a hunter's best bet. This is done by using native grasses or marsh vegetation and natural material and simply hiding in a tree, clump of grass or a shrub. More intricate natural blinds may have large logs or branches leaned together or lashed together using rope. Be sure and make your blinds 3 sided to avoid being spotted by circling birds.

Permanent blinds may be constructed out of plywood and then covered with natural vegetation to blend in. This type of blind would be stabilized in holes in the ground. Also this would not likely be permitted on public property. You may also buy pre-made blinds of canvas and metal framing.

There is a growing popularity of hunting ducks and geese by boat. In this case the hunter may build his own blind or buy a pre manufactured blind for hunting waterfowl from a boat.

Most duck and goose hunting blinds will be situated over water and thus your decoys will be placed in the water we have provided another picture below showing a waterfront blind and the decoys in the water.

Duck and Goose Hunters With Blind and Decoys

About Your Duck & Goose Blind

Blend in - Your blind should blend in entirely with your surroundings. So be sure and use vegetation from your hunting site

Remain Motionless - Do not move your head or body until the call has been made to shoot. If you turn your face up to look at the birds not only will they see you move, they will see the glare off your face. Just follow the birds with your eyes if hunting alone.

Rig your decoys with the water currents and wind conditions in mind. You do not want to get into your blind only to watch your decoys jumble together or float away from your blind where you cannot get a good shot. Also for a gauge of distance you may want to put one or two decoys in the water. Place these decoys 35 to 40 yards out which is in range for shooting. This will help you gauge the distance of the birds as they fly in.

Camouflage For Duck And Goose Hunting

While hunting for ducks and geese it is critical that you use proper camouflage for a successful hunt. Also since hunting for ducks and geese can get you wet and cold you will need special types of clothes. Waders, waist or chest high, may be needed as well as other waterproof clothing in a camouflage design.

The object is to blend in with your blind and other surroundings. This may involve wearing more than one type of camouflage. The days of the old green and tan or brown and tan camouflage are gone. The newer choices in camo gear blend much better with nature. Camouflage now comes in contrasting earth tones with a unique shading process that gives a three dimensional looks. You will want to cover all visible parts of your body with camouflage even your face may be covered (up to the eyes) with camo out of netting material. You can also use camo paint on your face and do not forget your hands.

Calling Ducks And Geese - Tips, Ideas And Suggested Calls

Calling All Birds - Duck and Goose Calling Techniques

If you will watch how geese and ducks respond to your calls then you will get a good idea of how to call. If they appear to become excited by a series of calls then keep blowing that set of calls.

However, if the birds appear to slide off try a different set of calls with a different sequence or loudness.

  • Not all ducks or geese respond to calls - they have their own agenda.
  • Signs of callable ducks or geese are birds working a large area, fluttering wing beats.
  • Over calling ducks or geese is detrimental if they are responding to your calls then let them be. Overcalling appears unnatural and may make the ducks or geese suspicious.
  • Think like a duck or goose - do not start calling aggressively this is not what they do. Instead start off soft and become more aggressive in your calls.
  • Make sure and match your calls to the species. With ducks this can mean a call other than a mallard call if you have a gadwall species flying in.
  • If hunting in a group designate a leader to handle the major calls with the rest of the group filling in with quacks, feed calls or soft greeting calls. It would be a good idea for your group to practice calling before the hunt.
  • If you notice approaching ducks appear to begin to drift away then have someone hit them with a greeting or comeback call rather than an aggressive call.
  • Never call at ducks or geese while they are above your blind
  • Do Not quit calling just because you can see the wingtips you want your ducks or geese to come into the landing position with wings spread and feet down
  • If it looks like all is lost and the ducks or geese are going to land short of your landing zones or just don't respond then get aggressive with the calling. You have nothing to loose at this point.

You may find some items below here to help you with the art of calling ducks and geese.

Using Dogs To Retrieve Your Bagged Ducks And Geese

Dogs and Hunting Geese And Ducks

Many people use dogs such as Labradors or Spaniels and some other special breeds to retrieve birds they have shot. This practice has these benefits:

  1. Saves waste - Dogs can retrieve birds by smell and where man cannot.
  2. Goose and Duck hunting generally take place in cold weather near cold water the dog keeps you from being exposed to harsh conditions
  3. It is less dangerous for the dog to swim out to retrieve a bird than a man
  4. The dog's acute sense of smell helps it locate the bird easily

Most hunters are very close to their retriever dogs, I know my uncle is, and they spend a lot of time with their dog both training and quality time. The key word here is training.

If a dog is not trained well or properly then he/she can mess up the whole hunt. If a dog behaves badly on the hunt it should be locked in it's box or tied in the blind to keep from disrupting the hunt and to train the dog.

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