collapse

Advertisement


Author Topic: Please criticize my duck hunt!  (Read 5332 times)

Offline jamesfromseattle

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Scout
  • ****
  • Join Date: Nov 2014
  • Posts: 477
  • Location: Seattle
Please criticize my duck hunt!
« on: December 05, 2021, 08:42:27 PM »
Not new to hunting, but nearly brand new to duck hunting. I did some jump shooting when I was younger but finally got some decoys this year. Iíve spent the last few years whining about the lack of salmon and steelhead opportunity in the fall and decided I need a new late fall hobby, so Iím trying to get this duck thing figured out.

Iíve been out a few times this year, but mostly just screwing around and trying to find places to hunt. Havenít actually shot a duck yet, but I think Iím getting closer. Up until today I donít think I was in the same zip code, but I think I found what seems like a good spot today. Saw a ton of ducks even though I didnít connect on any.

I made a lot of mistakes that I recognized, but Iím certain I also I made some mistake I didnít recognize. I would really appreciate any suggestions on what I could do better. I know criticizing how people hunt is normally frowned upon, but Iím inviting itÖplease flame away. I know I donít have a lot of the fundamentals down so Iím not sure if Iím doing things a little wrong or really wrong.

Iíll be vague about the location I hunted out of respect for anyone else that hunts there:

A few miles from Puget Sound in an agricultural area. There were a few thousand acres on farmland to the south, and a couple hundred acres of a marshy area to the north. Blind was on the west side of a flooded field facing east. Major employer in the area is a refinery. A rough sketch of the area is attached.

There were more ducks in the area than Iíve ever seen, and they appeared to be using the marsh to the north. Other than that, I couldnít figure out a pattern for what they were doing.

Weather:

Wind was from the east then southeast. Maybe 5 mph, sustained for most of the morning. Weather was slightly below freezing at the start and slight above freezing once the sun was up. Partially clear, partially cloudy. No precipitation.

My understanding is that this is ok but not great weather for hunting. Not worth calling in sick for, but worth going, I think?

Setup:

Blind was covered and partially submerged. Natural vegetation on the outside. The front came half way up my chest while sitting down, so my arms and head would have been visible. Is this too exposed?

Wore a raincoat with a hood and some old style digital camo. I generally think the latest camo is overrated in deer hunting, but I know it is more important for ducks. Do I need something better?

I have a dozen cheap floating mallard decoys. None of the cool stuff that moves. Iíd like to get a few successful hunts in before I dump a ton of money into decoys, but do I need more to have a realistic chance of success?

I did a J pattern because it seemed like the most basic option. After got home and re-read some articles I saw that the bottom of the J is supposed to face the wind so the duck land inside the J. I set this up backwards. Mistake recognized.

Plan:

I got there half an hour before shooting light. Setup took longer than I planned on and I missed the first 20 minutes of shooting light. There were a ton of birds moving at first light. Mistake recognized. Need to get there earlier.

Calling:

My calling experience consists of watching Youtube videos and blowing on a call in the house when my family is out. In other words, called skills are extremely limited.

I noticed that the birds in the area were not that vocalóat least compared to how they sound in TV shows. Especially the ducks flying, almost no sound. Is this normal or was it a uniquely quiet day?

Mostly kept the calling to simple quacks and the occasional attempt at a feeding call. In retrospect I wonder if I should have been calling at all if the birds in the air werenít responding? Is bad calling and too much calling worse than too little?

How it went:

There were birds flying the rest of the morning around the marsh to the north and the field to the east. Some large groups of around 20 down to solos. A couple times an eagle apparently stirred everything up on the field next to me.

One duck left the field next door and flew overhead. Pretty sure a drake mallard. Definitely not landing but I thought it was close enough to shoot. Shot at it twice, missed it twice. In retrospect, I think he was too far away. I had 30-40 yards in my head at the time of the shot, but after the fact I looked more closely at where he was when I shot and it was probably more like 70 and if anyone was watching they probably would have called it sky busting. Mistake recognized.

Another small flock (I think 4) flew directly overhead. I was fumbling to get my earplugs in and rushed and missed the shot. Iím also a bad shot a need to practice more, but thatís a whole other issue. I do think these ones were close enough to hit, so I donít regret trying to shoot themójust wish I did a better job.

Finally, a solo duck was circling to land on the field to the east. Had a shot at about 30-40 yards and I pulled the trigger without taking the safety off. Another symptom of not shooting enough.

None seemed remotely interested in landing my spread. Like, not even a look. This was a little surprising because there were enough ducks around that I thought at least one would try to land on my field by accident. I did watch dozens circle and land in the field to the eastóso they were in a landing mood. I wonder if having so many ducks next door was a bad thing in some ways? Why would they land in my dinky spread if there was a huge party next door?

The lack of any ducks landing on my field also makes me wonder if something else obvious was really off. Perhaps I was too visible in the blind? Or it was just a bad spot? Should the decoys have been closer to the edge of the pond? Or further out in the middle?

Please tell me all the reasons why Iím an idiot and didnít kill anything!

Offline jamesfromseattle

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Scout
  • ****
  • Join Date: Nov 2014
  • Posts: 477
  • Location: Seattle
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2021, 08:57:52 PM »
Struggling with attachments. I think I've got it on this one.

Offline metlhead

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Longhunter
  • *****
  • Join Date: Feb 2014
  • Posts: 824
  • Location: sw wa
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2021, 09:13:37 PM »
Criticize? Ok. Scrap that whole battle plan and quit overthinking this. You're not where ducks want to be. Find that spot. Kill ducks

Offline WSU

  • Political Topics
  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Old Salt
  • ******
  • Join Date: Mar 2009
  • Posts: 5213
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2021, 09:25:33 PM »
Criticize? Ok. Scrap that whole battle plan and quit overthinking this. You're not where ducks want to be. Find that spot. Kill ducks

Seems simple but itís spot on. Scout until you find a spot that birds are actually landing at. In your case they are in the neighboring fields because thatís where they want to be. Youíll have very little luck trying to decoy them into somewhere they donít want to be.

Offline mburrows

  • Non-Hunting & Covid-19 Topics
  • Trade Count: (+4)
  • Sourdough
  • *****
  • Join Date: Aug 2007
  • Posts: 1286
  • Location: Montana
  • Go Cougs!
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2021, 09:41:10 PM »
Sounds like youíre on the right track. Ducks just wanted to be somewhere else.

Offline ASHQUACK

  • Non-Hunting & Covid-19 Topics
  • Trade Count: (+2)
  • Longhunter
  • *****
  • Join Date: Oct 2010
  • Posts: 523
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2021, 09:51:17 PM »
You'll find that it's almost impossible to pull birds away from landing with live birds. Another tip, cause I suck at deciphering maps, I redo my damdest to try to put the sun at my back. Also, I would guess that you're swinging your head around to watch birds. Try to watch with your face down as much as possible and keep your movement to an absolute minimum.

Offline pd

  • Trade Count: (+5)
  • Sourdough
  • *****
  • Join Date: Nov 2012
  • Posts: 2267
  • Location: Seattle?
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2021, 10:02:21 PM »
Bud, I know nothing about duck hunting.  But, I love your analysis.  Great post.  Keep trying.
Si vis pacem, para bellum

Offline Kola16

  • <><
  • Political Topics
  • Trade Count: (+1)
  • Frontiersman
  • *****
  • Join Date: Aug 2011
  • Posts: 3094
  • Location: Belfair
  • Go Cougs!
    • https://www.facebook.com/robbie.v.bailey16
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2021, 01:31:37 AM »
Wow that's a game plan :chuckle: I will echo what others have said and add a little. These are the things in order of what new duck hunters get wrong in order of importance. These are the things you should be worrying about.

1. The most important part of duck hunting is being where the ducks want to be. "On the 'X.'" Put your decoys in the field/pond/lake/marsh where you have seen ducks on that field/pond/lake/marsh.

2. Being hidden is second. If you can see the ducks, they can see you. Your blind needs to be covered with natural vegetation EVERYWHERE, including in front of you. Swing/fold out panels are your best friend. Your camo should not matter. If you are in a good blind, you can wear a rainbow dress and it wouldn't be visible from the outside of the blind.

3. Calling...I guarantee you that you are scaring away ducks with your call :chuckle: That is not suppose to be a dis, that is just expected of any new duck hunter. There are duck hunters that have been hunting for 20 years, and still cannot blow a duck call right (although they think they can). The most common thing that new duck hunters do is that they just blow air into a duck call. Duck calling is not just blowing air. You have to say a word into a duck call. What word doesn't matter too much, but most people I think say the word, "hut." Your tongue hitting the roof of your mouth is what cuts off the word hut. Start off just by learning a quack, just 1 note. "Hut.......hut........hut--------->quack......quack........quack....." Simple, light calling is sometimes the most effective calling. The best thing you can do for calling is to meet an experienced caller in person and have them teach you to get you in the right direction. I have heard to many new duck hunters utter the phrase, "well I have been watching Youtube the last few years..." NO! :chuckle: Youtube is great for most things, but duck calling is unique.

4. Make a jerk string. They're cheap, easy and effective.

I wouldn't put your 12 decoys in a 'J.' With that few of decoys it would just look unnatural. Just put them in 2 separate groups of 6 or whatever random orientation that you would see 12 ducks in. I highly recommend you get more decoys. 4 dozen decoys will pull many more ducks out of the air than 1 dozen.
If guns kill people...then pencils misspell words, cars make people drive drunk, and spoons made Rosie O'Donnell fat!

"God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy!"   -Billy Currington

Offline TVHunts

  • Past Sponsor
  • Trade Count: (+48)
  • Sourdough
  • *****
  • Join Date: Nov 2012
  • Posts: 1044
  • Location: Marysville
  • Groups: NRA-RSO,RMEF,DU, Marysville Rifle Club
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2021, 03:47:34 AM »
Excellent post and great to see the help your getting!  Iím horrible with a call and donít use one when I get out.  As said already it can be very counterproductive if you donít know what your doing. 

Best of luck to you :tup:
MAGA

LETíS GO BRANDON!

Offline Special T

  • Truth the new Hate Speech.
  • Washington For Wildlife
  • Trade Count: (+13)
  • Legend
  • ******
  • Join Date: Aug 2009
  • Posts: 23268
  • Location: Skagit Valley
  • Make it Rain!
    • Silver Arrow Bowmen
    • Silver Arrow Bowmen
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2021, 04:40:26 AM »
Calling is hard. Until you have thebbasic quackndown perfect, dont call. A soft quack is appropriate all the time.
 I personally thinkyou have to go big or small. Ive seen 2 ducks in puddles ditches or nearly any kind location.
In archery we have something like the way of the superior man. When the archer misses the center of the target, he turns round and seeks for the cause of his failure in himself. 

Confucius

Offline Rob

  • Non-Hunting & Covid-19 Topics
  • Trade Count: (+3)
  • Frontiersman
  • *****
  • Join Date: Apr 2009
  • Posts: 3541
  • Location: Sandpoint ID
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2021, 05:42:11 AM »
You already mentioned time of day.  Most flying is right before shooting hours to sun-up.  Be ready to go 20 min before shooting time.

They really see faces.  Camo head net is a must-or a hat with a big bill to hide your face.  No movement of your head when they are decoying in!

As someone else said, calling by saying words like hut, with a sharp cut off at the "t" is good .  Tika tika tika for the feeding call.  And call from your diaphragm,  not your mouth if that makes sense.  Treat the call like a musical instrument.

Consider a guided hunt to learn the ropes.  Few hundred bucks might cut out a dozen trips of your trial and error.

Good luck!
_______________________________________
Sit tall in the saddle, hold you head up high.
Keep your eyes fixed on where the trail meets the sky.
Live like you ainít afraid to die.
Just sit back and enjoy your ride
  - Chris Ledoux

Offline Stein

  • Non-Hunting & Covid-19 Topics
  • Trade Count: (+10)
  • Explorer
  • ******
  • Join Date: Sep 2013
  • Posts: 10609
  • Location: Arlington
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2021, 07:15:15 AM »
I think I know what spot you were at.  Being on the X is true, but when the x is someplace you can't access you are in the same boat as the rest of us public land pounders.

If it's the area I'm thinking of, it can be difficult as birds usually come from behind the blind and you aren't allowed to hunt outside the blind so you make do.  If the blind is flooded it's no fun, but stay as hidden as you can, especially your face.  Don't make big movements.

A bunch of birds will be going around to other areas as you noticed, you should have a chance at a few that will either land right at daylight or come in for a look close enough for shots.  The first few minutes are key in many of these spots.

The only advice I have is keep at it.  Most public spots will be tougher hunting, certainly nothing like you see on TV.  Most of the time, expect most of the birds to not be interested, you are looking for the few that are.

Finally, right now is a crazy time with the flooding and birds are in different spots than they normally are.  I haven't seen conditions like this in the 7 or so years I have been hunting.

Offline KP-Skagit

  • Trade Count: (+1)
  • Scout
  • ****
  • Join Date: Dec 2015
  • Posts: 383
  • Location: Skagit Valley
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2021, 07:28:38 AM »
I think from reading the situation you were in that you did about as good as could be expected in terms of opportunity. Few years ago I had a buddy invite me on hunt talking up this amazing spot he had. We got out there and his great spot was a grass field while the neighboring field was a flooded potato field. I thought to myself that our only chance would be pass shooting birds going to the spuds. That's all we got.

Out of everything you mentioned I would focus on location first, how to set up your decoys next, maybe side by side with calling. Calling can be tricky and different situations require different approaches. I am a good caller out of the bayfront and garbage in the fields.

The last thing I would worry about is camo. Conceal yourself as best you can, avoid sudden moves with birds overhead, don't look straight up at birds overhead as they will see your face. I am currently doing my duck hunting in an olive drab rain coat hiding in natural cover.

Offline WALLEYEGUY

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Scout
  • ****
  • Join Date: Nov 2009
  • Posts: 255
  • Location: Spokane Wa
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2021, 08:03:58 AM »
Best lesson I ever learned was scout as much as you hunt. If your on the X life is GOOD.  Lots of guys never scout but they have been hunting the same area forever. Being military I would move to a new area and have to start over.  Realized I was getting way more birds than most because I was scouting way more than most. :twocents:

Offline jamesfromseattle

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Scout
  • ****
  • Join Date: Nov 2014
  • Posts: 477
  • Location: Seattle
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2021, 08:50:19 AM »
Thanks guys, appreciate the input from everyone. One of the tough things about being new to the game is that I'm not really sure which ducks I should be getting an opportunity and which ones are just never going to cooperate. And it's easy to overthink things when you spend all day sitting in one spot. Sounds like my experience wasn't totally abnormal and it just wasn't going to be lights out in this spot regardless of what I did.

My take aways from everyone's comments are:
1. Keep grinding it out and exploring different spots.
2. Forget about calling for a while and just stay still. Once I start to have some amount of success I'll start trying to call again with a light touch. I'm pretty sure that trying to call also significantly increased the amount I was fidgeting around. (Pick up the call, drop the call, pick up the gun. Rather than just point and shoot the gun.)
3. I'm probably overthinking the decoy spread. A jerk string looks like it'd be easy and cheap to put together so I'll give this a shot. Once I get some things figured out I'll consider spending some money and getting more decoys.

Within the next two weeks I'll have a dead duck on this thread.

@Stein, yep, I think you probably know where I'm at. Spent much of the day twisted around trying to see them coming from behind. And yeah...I sure could have used another pair of socks. Only reason I wasn't worried about frostbite is because the water was in its liquid state and therefore above freezing--albeit only slightly.

Offline metlhead

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Longhunter
  • *****
  • Join Date: Feb 2014
  • Posts: 824
  • Location: sw wa
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #15 on: December 06, 2021, 08:54:50 AM »
This blind that is in the field, whar does it look like? By now birds are wary of any structure. All the camo is no good if the blind just sticks up. Pop ups are useless in an open field. Your only bet is to reduce your size, and that means going lower. Never comfortable and always dirty. If you can dig, do it. If not, lay down blinds or just you laying on the ground. I hunt pressured birds on public land and consistently kill limits because I have reduced myself to a 2'x2' natural screen. The ground is mostly barren mudflat except for occasioal tufts of grass. That is what I have become. I've learned which direction shootable birds come from, and ignore the rest. An agricultural field should have plenty of options if you become creative.

Offline salish

  • Non-Hunting & Covid-19 Topics
  • Trade Count: (+3)
  • Scout
  • ****
  • Join Date: Dec 2009
  • Posts: 390
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #16 on: December 06, 2021, 12:04:12 PM »
As an upland hunter who is also a wannabe duck hunter, I am paying really close attention to this thread. I'm also in Seattle, so this thread is very interesting.

Offline Odell

  • Washington For Wildlife
  • Trade Count: (+3)
  • Longhunter
  • *****
  • Join Date: Oct 2011
  • Posts: 966
  • Location: Bonney Lake
  • the deuce is loose
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #17 on: December 06, 2021, 02:21:32 PM »
I'm not great at calling so take this for what it's worth:

This is advice for learning to call--
If ducks are coming and committed as a beginner don't touch your call. Don't move, be ready to shoot. (Knowing when to shoot is a skill hard learned. The timing, knowing if its the best shot you can get or if they are going to circle again...sometimes it's impossible but you will only learn this through trial and error)

If ducks are flying high and headed elsewhere, calling can't (often) hurt and once in a while you might just turn one. That said, listen to ducks, listen to duck calling media and try to actually sound like a duck. Don't just blow it like a horn, but use it as an opportunity to get better

Regarding shooting: Practice mounting your shotgun at home with it unloaded until its one fluid motion. Get that stock on your cheek and in the right spot on your shoulder with ease. This combined with knowing when to shoot will kill you a lot more ducks

Make sure your gun isn't getting tangled in brush blind, laying sideways, have it where you can grab it and be on your feet (or seat) shooting quickly and easily.

Pick one bird and kill it. I was consistently shooting behind birds at first. I had a process to fix my errors...CHEEK, BEAK, BOOM. Get the stock tight against my cheek because I was lifting my head, swing through the bird from behind it to its beak, once I see the beak (focus) make it go boom. Safety off at that point is a good idea as you learned :)  There are lots of moving parts in that moment, learn to do it in one fluid motion and you will kill birds. If you keep missing 90% odds that you are behind it so increase lead.

Don't aim. If you are used to rifle shooting with one eye closed and lining up sights (beads) you are doing it wrong. Both eyes open (IMO) and a fluid motion and let your brain and process determine the lead

Decoys-- One of the more fun parts in my opinion but patterns work best with wind. You can then block them from going where you don't want and leave a spot for where you want them. With little to no wind and a dozen decoys I would have very loose groups of 2-3 decoys scattered on either side of me

Camo--Not nearly as important as staying still. With a well brushed blind you can wear pink as long as you don't move

I miss duck hunting. It's been a few years for me

what in the wild wild world of sports???

Offline 2MANY

  • Political Topics
  • Trade Count: (+3)
  • Frontiersman
  • *****
  • Join Date: Jun 2013
  • Posts: 3695
  • Location: Yup
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #18 on: December 06, 2021, 02:57:15 PM »
If I were you I would get up and walk out in the middle of my decoys like I'm picking up.

Works every time.

Offline Stein

  • Non-Hunting & Covid-19 Topics
  • Trade Count: (+10)
  • Explorer
  • ******
  • Join Date: Sep 2013
  • Posts: 10609
  • Location: Arlington
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #19 on: December 06, 2021, 03:14:37 PM »
If I were you I would get up and walk out in the middle of my decoys like I'm picking up.

Works every time.

Yup, or as my son says put out a peecoy.

Offline gaddy

  • Non-Hunting & Covid-19 Topics
  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Frontiersman
  • *****
  • Join Date: Sep 2010
  • Posts: 2832
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #20 on: December 06, 2021, 03:30:01 PM »
A thought. I never hunted fields much, mostly over water. But what I did during any scouting was look at the birds in an unpressured environment. I would check out refuges etc prior to season. Where they weren't pressured. Listen to them, what calls are you hearing naturally, you can't just start blaring at them. They want to hear whats natural. Watch how they pattern. How do they group up. How do they come in to whats on the water. How big are the groups on the water their coming into. Remember that these ducks have seen it all. I found that not calling with the right set up helped my harvest rates.
Did the same for geese.
I actually (over water) started setting up for geese with minimal duck deke's and increased my duck harvest.
I also quit going out at 3 am. Started the afternoon shift when everyone else was gone. Not the big bunches of birds but enough moving around to have fun and not have the competition.
It really got easier for me when I quit doing what everyone else did and watched the birds and what they did.
Where do they like to be, How do they naturally group on the water (not prescribed patterns of deke's) are they scattered or in a funnel ?
Good luck!!   It's all about the adventure and learning as you go. Have fun and keep it simple.

Offline shootem

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Longhunter
  • *****
  • Join Date: Aug 2011
  • Posts: 560
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #21 on: December 07, 2021, 12:14:06 AM »
Birds like to land into the wind. The wind should be at your back. If your blind was was facing east with an east wind than it would have been in your face. I always try to avoid that.

Offline Special T

  • Truth the new Hate Speech.
  • Washington For Wildlife
  • Trade Count: (+13)
  • Legend
  • ******
  • Join Date: Aug 2009
  • Posts: 23268
  • Location: Skagit Valley
  • Make it Rain!
    • Silver Arrow Bowmen
    • Silver Arrow Bowmen
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #22 on: December 07, 2021, 08:13:42 AM »
Birds like to land into the wind. The wind should be at your back. If your blind was was facing east with an east wind than it would have been in your face. I always try to avoid that.

I'm gonna disagree with the wind at you back comment. If you do that they will be looking right at you. The only time I think that works is when you are facing north and the sunshine helps conceal you. And or the decoys are on the far side of the pond and the landing zone is between you and the decoys
In archery we have something like the way of the superior man. When the archer misses the center of the target, he turns round and seeks for the cause of his failure in himself. 

Confucius

Offline metlhead

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Longhunter
  • *****
  • Join Date: Feb 2014
  • Posts: 824
  • Location: sw wa
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #23 on: December 07, 2021, 08:24:31 AM »
Best scenario is most often a crosswind with blocks on the upwind side. As far as the birds landing, unless you have a heavy gale, they can land from any direction, only needing a few feet to spin and lite.

Offline PaulM

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Tracker
  • **
  • Join Date: Aug 2010
  • Posts: 57
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #24 on: December 07, 2021, 10:05:41 AM »
Great topic. I would suggest getting help in person. The WWA has a mentor program that pairs new hunters with experienced waterfowlers for a minimum 2 hunt commitment. Its a steep learning curve and experienced hunters will help bring up your success with new skills.

Offline spadebit

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Pilgrim
  • *
  • Join Date: Apr 2015
  • Posts: 32
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #25 on: December 07, 2021, 10:36:02 AM »
The way you analyzed your hunt is a sign you're going to be eventually successful. 
Being on the X is obviously the best way to get them, but unrealistic for public hunting at times. 
Besides what others mentioned, get some different species in your decoys, gadwall, wigeon, coots, or other divers.  It gives confidence to them and not many hunters run more than species or two of decoys.  Standing out can often be best, especially late season.
Dont call at birds who are on "a mission" youll learn what that means a lot of times by how high they are flying.  Just leave them alone and only call or move your jerk rig to birds that are within range. 
Youll often find singles or doubles looking for smaller groups of ducks to be with.  Calling will take time, but keep at it and practice while your driving or at a stop light as often as possible. 
I generally hunt with 12 to 16 decoys, a jerk rig, and place ducks as natural as possible on the water.  Set up a kill hole, but for puddle ducks my biggest mistake was making a J hook for example look too perfect as in a line.  Change it up when it is slow and see what works.  And dont call loud when theyre close, especially on a calm day with no wind.  It takes time to get into a rhythm, but keep after it.
 

Offline Kola16

  • <><
  • Political Topics
  • Trade Count: (+1)
  • Frontiersman
  • *****
  • Join Date: Aug 2011
  • Posts: 3094
  • Location: Belfair
  • Go Cougs!
    • https://www.facebook.com/robbie.v.bailey16
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #26 on: December 07, 2021, 12:18:42 PM »
Great topic. I would suggest getting help in person. The WWA has a mentor program that pairs new hunters with experienced waterfowlers for a minimum 2 hunt commitment. Its a steep learning curve and experienced hunters will help bring up your success with new skills.
This is by far the best advice on here. An experienced hunter in the field will teach you the most.
Being on the X is obviously the best way to get them, but unrealistic for public hunting at times. 

Besides what others mentioned, get some different species in your decoys, gadwall, wigeon, coots, or other divers.  It gives confidence to them and not many hunters run more than species or two of decoys.  Standing out can often be best, especially late season.
I disagree with the X comment. I only hunt public land, and find that diligent scouting puts you on the X on public land ALWAYS.

Also to the OP,  when you do decide to get more decoys, get the other species along with mallards that you are seeing in the area you hunt. Being in W. WA, that will be the wigeons, pintails, teal, and whatever diver species you want. Gadwalls are not very prevalent over here. I wouldn't get coots either, but that is a whole other argument :chuckle:

Wigeons are a good one since wigeons like wigeon decoys. Even a box of 6 wigeons will make a huge difference.
If guns kill people...then pencils misspell words, cars make people drive drunk, and spoons made Rosie O'Donnell fat!

"God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy!"   -Billy Currington

Offline Stein

  • Non-Hunting & Covid-19 Topics
  • Trade Count: (+10)
  • Explorer
  • ******
  • Join Date: Sep 2013
  • Posts: 10609
  • Location: Arlington
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #27 on: December 07, 2021, 12:31:04 PM »
Depends on what part of the state you are in.  Getting on the X in Skagit county on public land is a whole different can of beans than in more rural parts of the state.

Offline Kola16

  • <><
  • Political Topics
  • Trade Count: (+1)
  • Frontiersman
  • *****
  • Join Date: Aug 2011
  • Posts: 3094
  • Location: Belfair
  • Go Cougs!
    • https://www.facebook.com/robbie.v.bailey16
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #28 on: December 07, 2021, 12:49:18 PM »
It doesn't matter what part of the state you live in. Your hunting license covers the entire 71k square miles.
If guns kill people...then pencils misspell words, cars make people drive drunk, and spoons made Rosie O'Donnell fat!

"God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy!"   -Billy Currington

Offline Stein

  • Non-Hunting & Covid-19 Topics
  • Trade Count: (+10)
  • Explorer
  • ******
  • Join Date: Sep 2013
  • Posts: 10609
  • Location: Arlington
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #29 on: December 07, 2021, 01:03:11 PM »
True, but it's not realistic or even possible to scout the entire state every week.  For the majority of waterfowl hunting, I would guess people shoot pretty close to their house with maybe one or two trips somewhere else if they are lucky.

It's kind of like saying the guy in Dayton could easily go crabbing a couple times a week.

In my mind, that's the very cool thing about waterfowl, most people can hunt pretty local.

Offline AL WORRELLS KID

  • WA State Trappers Association
  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Sourdough
  • *****
  • Join Date: Nov 2017
  • Posts: 1275
  • Location: On The Sides Of The North
  • Fisherman Lied so, the Kids had to Call the Dog
  • Groups: Washington State Trappers Association
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #30 on: December 07, 2021, 01:36:57 PM »
Always be sensitive to your Dog's feelings, someday you may be sharing his house.
"BE LIKE A DUCK. CALM ON THE SURFACE, BUT ALWAYS PADDLING LIKE THE DICKENS UNDERNEATH!" 
 Michael Caine

Offline ctwiggs1

  • Non-Hunting & Covid-19 Topics
  • Trade Count: (+10)
  • Frontiersman
  • *****
  • Join Date: Mar 2009
  • Posts: 4049
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #31 on: December 07, 2021, 01:38:47 PM »
Depends on what part of the state you are in.  Getting on the X in Skagit county on public land is a whole different can of beans than in more rural parts of the state.

Skagit is a perfect example for your point.  I've sat in fields surrounded by duck-loaded fields and had nothing come in. 

I've also sat had limits in the first 30 minutes.

Skagit is tricky.

Offline Kola16

  • <><
  • Political Topics
  • Trade Count: (+1)
  • Frontiersman
  • *****
  • Join Date: Aug 2011
  • Posts: 3094
  • Location: Belfair
  • Go Cougs!
    • https://www.facebook.com/robbie.v.bailey16
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #32 on: December 07, 2021, 03:11:07 PM »
True, but it's not realistic or even possible to scout the entire state every week.  For the majority of waterfowl hunting, I would guess people shoot pretty close to their house with maybe one or two trips somewhere else if they are lucky.

It's kind of like saying the guy in Dayton could easily go crabbing a couple times a week.

In my mind, that's the very cool thing about waterfowl, most people can hunt pretty local.
Well you don't have to scout the entire state, just till you find the X. I have almost always found an X on the westside. With duck hunting you get out what you put in. Scouting is as necessary with duck hunting as it is with deer, elk, bear, or turkey.

What's the nearest place from Seattle to duck hunt anyway? Stanwood? 15 minutes north is Skagit. Another 35 minutes is Whatcom. There will be an X on public land at any point in time at least in 1 of those places. All within 2 hours of Seattle that is not a drive to complain about. The drive to my favorite duck blind is 3 hours.

Speaking of, some have mentioned that the blind is key and they are right. Here is a picture of one I built with the foldout opened for shooting and closed for hiding. Notice how the surrounding vegetation in the background is much taller than the dugout blind. I could use more vegetation on the blind too...
If guns kill people...then pencils misspell words, cars make people drive drunk, and spoons made Rosie O'Donnell fat!

"God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy!"   -Billy Currington

Offline Stein

  • Non-Hunting & Covid-19 Topics
  • Trade Count: (+10)
  • Explorer
  • ******
  • Join Date: Sep 2013
  • Posts: 10609
  • Location: Arlington
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #33 on: December 07, 2021, 04:16:58 PM »
I'm not arguing that scouting isn't helpful, it certainly is.  I'm simply trying to add some reality so people starting out have realistic expectations.

If you don't have a boat, there are a finite number of sites all on the WDFW website and all available to anyone with OnX, Basemap or whatever which is pretty much everyone.  The sites are highly competitive and often very difficult to get in where you want once you find the birds.  Some of them are reservation only which requires predicting the "x" two weeks in advance and being very lucky on the mouse click.  FFTH sites are often plugged with people camping at the site well before the 4am time.  Others are only open certain days.  Many have fixed blinds you must hunt out of.

You can certainly get out, have multiple backup plans and shoot some ducks, but if you only have access to public I'm not sure there are many people on the x 100% of their hunts.  The fact is the birds know real quick where the public blinds are and you're going to need perfect conditions for those blinds to be on the x - fresh birds, right amount of water, right wind and a big chunk of luck.

From my experience, public land hunting is a combination of scouting, luck, right place right time, pass shooting, some decoying and a combination of limits, skunks and everything in between.

If a guy is shooting limits of feet down birds on the x 90%+ of the time all on public land, my hat's off to them for sure.  I'm sure there are a few of them out there just like there are a few guys that kill 6x6 or better elk every year on a general permit.

Offline metlhead

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Longhunter
  • *****
  • Join Date: Feb 2014
  • Posts: 824
  • Location: sw wa
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #34 on: December 07, 2021, 07:03:45 PM »
Public waterways offer incredible hunting, and yes, one can consistently do very well on them. If it is managed by WDFW, avoid it just like the birds. A boat is your key to access the tremendous amount of great areas available. Probably take a bit of driving also. A four hour round trip driving is very worth a great hunt. Also beats sitting for wasted hours close to home where everyone else but the birds sits. Birds are here, in large numbers, and readily available to anyone putting forth some effort.

Offline Kola16

  • <><
  • Political Topics
  • Trade Count: (+1)
  • Frontiersman
  • *****
  • Join Date: Aug 2011
  • Posts: 3094
  • Location: Belfair
  • Go Cougs!
    • https://www.facebook.com/robbie.v.bailey16
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #35 on: December 07, 2021, 07:26:33 PM »
I didn't read where the OP didn't have a boat. I would make a suggestion to the OP to put a small boat or a cheap beater kayak on the "X"-mas ;) list. Sooooo much more land to access with either of those 2 things and much easier to avoid the crowds and conceal.

If it gives the OP hope, I never shot a duck when I started hunting till probably the tenth outing. 15 years later, and I cannot remember a single hunt where I didn't come home with at least 1 duck. The more effort you put into learning how to duck hunt and finding new areas, the closer you will get to never coming up skunked again. Judging from your first post, you will reach that mark waaaaaaaaaaay before I ever did :chuckle:
If guns kill people...then pencils misspell words, cars make people drive drunk, and spoons made Rosie O'Donnell fat!

"God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy!"   -Billy Currington

Offline jamesfromseattle

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Scout
  • ****
  • Join Date: Nov 2014
  • Posts: 477
  • Location: Seattle
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #36 on: December 07, 2021, 11:20:22 PM »
Thanks again for all the input. Tons of great info from everyone. I donít have a duck boatójust a fishing boat that isnít a great platform for a blind. Iím not opposed to getting something in the future but am trying to keep it simple for now.

At least in western Washington I havenít seen that many places Iíd be comfortable hunting in a kayak. Maybe I just need to grow a pair, but most of the shooting Iíve heard has been coming from open water or tidal rivers with strong currents. But Iíll be on the lookout for places accessible in a small boatómaybe Iím just overlooking spots.

Been focusing in Snohomish and Skagit County. There are some well known spots a little closer but they appear to be too well known and/or be pheasant release sites. To the south of me it looks like theyíre some good public options in a small boat. East of the mountains appears to have a lot of options for a small boat or kayak.

Offline Kola16

  • <><
  • Political Topics
  • Trade Count: (+1)
  • Frontiersman
  • *****
  • Join Date: Aug 2011
  • Posts: 3094
  • Location: Belfair
  • Go Cougs!
    • https://www.facebook.com/robbie.v.bailey16
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #37 on: December 08, 2021, 12:14:19 AM »
You're overlooking spots. There are a lot of very safe places for little fishing boats. Numurous lakes, protected tidal flats, tidal backwaters, etc. Places you'll never see a wave bigger than a foot on the windiest days. You don't have to hunt out of the boat, you just use it to get to places.
If guns kill people...then pencils misspell words, cars make people drive drunk, and spoons made Rosie O'Donnell fat!

"God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy!"   -Billy Currington

Offline Pac_NW

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Pilgrim
  • *
  • Join Date: Oct 2017
  • Posts: 24
  • Location: Bellingham, WA
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #38 on: December 08, 2021, 11:20:55 AM »
ójust a fishing boat that isnít a great platform for a blind.

Going to shorten your quote James, but a boat doesn't have to be your blind, just get you to a spot. I've hunted numerous options on the west side, and never once hunted from my  boat. If you think the boat will stand out, throw some of the cheap burlap over it to conceal it a bit or have it about 300 yards from your hunting spot. You'll do just fine and it opens up more spots for you

Offline h3x0ctb1n

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Pilgrim
  • *
  • Join Date: Sep 2020
  • Posts: 49
  • Location: Everett
  • Groups: NRA, RMEF, BHA, MDF
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #39 on: December 18, 2021, 02:50:39 PM »
Thanks for the OP for starting the thread and everyone that's contributed feedback! I'm in the same boat as the OP, trying to figure out this waterfowl game solo, what gear I might need and where I can go. The comments here have been helpful. Joined the WWA in the hopes of learning more over time and connecting with other hunters. The vast amount of... stuff out there makes it seem daunting, good advice here on keeping it simple and focusing on one piece at a time.

Offline jamesfromseattle

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Scout
  • ****
  • Join Date: Nov 2014
  • Posts: 477
  • Location: Seattle
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #40 on: December 20, 2021, 01:30:15 PM »
Been continuing to struggle...hit a few different hunt by reservation and register to hunt spots in the last couple weeks. I focused on the Stanwood area for a couple days because its a comfortable half day trip for me, but I just haven't seen many ducks around there. Also spent another day further north and saw plenty of ducks but not where I could get close to them.

A lot of folks politely suggested that the reservation/register blinds aren't the best way to get it done consistently, and after beating my head against the wall for a while I'm ready to accept that.

I also acquired an old canoe, but I'm a little nervous about using it. I'd like to scout things out in the daylight before hunting out of it, but I probably only have a couple more days I'll be able to get out this season. I may just hold off on using the canoe until next year and scout some canoe-spots later winter when I've got a little more free time.

I've spent plenty of time on the saltwater and a fair amount of time on whitewater, which has taught me that water may not seem scary then all of a sudden is. I'm a little gun-shy with the canoe because I really haven't spent any time in a boat in an estuary/bay front environment. The mud in the estuaries freaks me out a little, but I guess it shouldn't as long as I'm careful with the tides and currents. And the bay-fronts are probably a no go in the canoe because canoes and wind are not friends.

I think I may try to get a guided hunt in if I can this year. Any recommendations for guides on the west side? I really can't find much in the way of west side guides online, but perhaps there are some that don't advertise.

Offline Kola16

  • <><
  • Political Topics
  • Trade Count: (+1)
  • Frontiersman
  • *****
  • Join Date: Aug 2011
  • Posts: 3094
  • Location: Belfair
  • Go Cougs!
    • https://www.facebook.com/robbie.v.bailey16
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #41 on: December 20, 2021, 10:54:42 PM »
The quality hunt places are most definitely not the way to go. There are a few that are indeed good at times, but beings that there are 100's, that's not saying much. To find the good ones, you have to scout, and that's not aloud. Your best bet is to hit lakes up north with your canoe, or hit the bays up north with the jon boat.

Get out as much as you can! Learn something every time you go out, even if it's that that particular spot is a no go. Did you do any scouting at spots you are aloud to hunt at?
If guns kill people...then pencils misspell words, cars make people drive drunk, and spoons made Rosie O'Donnell fat!

"God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy!"   -Billy Currington

Offline jamesfromseattle

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Scout
  • ****
  • Join Date: Nov 2014
  • Posts: 477
  • Location: Seattle
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #42 on: December 21, 2021, 09:34:55 AM »
The quality hunt places are most definitely not the way to go. There are a few that are indeed good at times, but beings that there are 100's, that's not saying much. To find the good ones, you have to scout, and that's not aloud. Your best bet is to hit lakes up north with your canoe, or hit the bays up north with the jon boat.

Get out as much as you can! Learn something every time you go out, even if it's that that particular spot is a no go. Did you do any scouting at spots you are aloud to hunt at?

Thanks for the input. I did a little scouting--mostly on the macro level (i.e. this zip code holds birds). It has been tougher to do on the micro level (i.e. this specific field holds birds) because as you mentioned, scouting isn't allowed. There are two WDFW private land fields I've seen from the road that look great, but I've never been the first one there. Kind of feels like combat fishing where you catch fish if you're standing on the right rock, but everyone else knows that too. Definitely coming around to the boat.... Boat = not needing to fight over the good rock to stand on.

Offline Stein

  • Non-Hunting & Covid-19 Topics
  • Trade Count: (+10)
  • Explorer
  • ******
  • Join Date: Sep 2013
  • Posts: 10609
  • Location: Arlington
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #43 on: December 21, 2021, 09:55:08 AM »
I would try focusing on a specific area and trying that to either develop a place or then move on.  Scouting two counties in a morning isn't very effective as most of the inland places (quality sites) are good hunting for an hour or so after legal light.  Big water places can have birds moving longer during the day.  As you noticed, the FFTH sites that hold birds are pretty close to impossible to get into as there are rule breakers and WDFW does little to nothing to enforce the rules.

Also be careful about parking, there are several places where your truck is not safe.  The further from Everett you get the better in my experience.


Offline Kola16

  • <><
  • Political Topics
  • Trade Count: (+1)
  • Frontiersman
  • *****
  • Join Date: Aug 2011
  • Posts: 3094
  • Location: Belfair
  • Go Cougs!
    • https://www.facebook.com/robbie.v.bailey16
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #44 on: December 21, 2021, 09:50:29 PM »
I would try focusing on a specific area and trying that to either develop a place or then move on.  Scouting two counties in a morning isn't very effective as most of the inland places (quality sites) are good hunting for an hour or so after legal light.  Big water places can have birds moving longer during the day.
^^^ This

OP have you made a jerk string yet? A jerk string is very important and critical with a small spread. Jerk on it a bunch when the ducks aren't looking or far away, but stop jerking when they are close and looking. As if you were 15 and your mom....nevermind I think you get the point...On calm days I would rather hunt over 6 decoys on 2 jerk strings (3 on each), than I would over 5 dozen motionless decoys. Ducks see the movement of the dekes and the ripples on the water from the sky way better than calm water stagnant decoys. Or at least they are drawn to it better.
If guns kill people...then pencils misspell words, cars make people drive drunk, and spoons made Rosie O'Donnell fat!

"God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy!"   -Billy Currington

Offline jamesfromseattle

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Scout
  • ****
  • Join Date: Nov 2014
  • Posts: 477
  • Location: Seattle
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #45 on: December 24, 2021, 09:59:42 AM »
I would try focusing on a specific area and trying that to either develop a place or then move on.  Scouting two counties in a morning isn't very effective as most of the inland places (quality sites) are good hunting for an hour or so after legal light.  Big water places can have birds moving longer during the day.
^^^ This

OP have you made a jerk string yet? A jerk string is very important and critical with a small spread. Jerk on it a bunch when the ducks aren't looking or far away, but stop jerking when they are close and looking. As if you were 15 and your mom....nevermind I think you get the point...On calm days I would rather hunt over 6 decoys on 2 jerk strings (3 on each), than I would over 5 dozen motionless decoys. Ducks see the movement of the dekes and the ripples on the water from the sky way better than calm water stagnant decoys. Or at least they are drawn to it better.

Yep, put the jerk string together and gave it a try. Seems to work well. Perhaps the most surprisingly inexpensive piece of outdoor equipment I have. Used a brick, an old bungee cord I found under the house, some zip ties, and the butt end of an ancient spool of mono. Only item requiring money was the zip ties.

Offline metlhead

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Longhunter
  • *****
  • Join Date: Feb 2014
  • Posts: 824
  • Location: sw wa
Re: Please criticize my duck hunt!
« Reply #46 on: December 24, 2021, 10:06:06 AM »
Since you mentioned a brick, sumpin I've done with sucees for years was to grab rocks and other non-floaty junk nearby and make a pile. When birds swing, toss a few out for instant water movement.

 


* Advertisement

* Recent Topics

Plano Stowaway Tackle Boxes by Parasite
[Yesterday at 11:51:38 PM]


2022 sheds...lets see them by LDennis24
[Yesterday at 11:40:00 PM]


WTT 7mm bullets by hoytxl2009
[Yesterday at 11:08:29 PM]


WDFW invites public comment on rule making for cougar hunting and regulations by huntnnw
[Yesterday at 10:42:55 PM]


Wa State Deer/Elk results by D-Rock425
[Yesterday at 10:24:34 PM]


New push for Mount St. Helens National Park by bigtex
[Yesterday at 10:16:57 PM]


Granberg Alaskan Sawmill by Skinnyguts
[Yesterday at 09:34:06 PM]


2022 special permit draw results by LongBomb
[Yesterday at 09:31:50 PM]


Anyone deer hunt the CMR in Montana? by deerlick
[Yesterday at 09:25:15 PM]


WTB: blackhorn 209 by Berin Denson
[Yesterday at 09:24:59 PM]


WTS** REMINGTON VERSAMAX. *** NEW PRICE*** by Rhino8541
[Yesterday at 09:19:02 PM]


Wtb: reloading equipment by meat_in_the_pot3
[Yesterday at 09:02:46 PM]


Vortex precision matched rings by meat_in_the_pot3
[Yesterday at 08:54:21 PM]


FS: RL 26 Reloading powder 3 lbs TRI CITIES by Hot Lunch
[Yesterday at 08:31:21 PM]


Elk hoof rot incentive tag drawn! Need help on area. by PsoasHunter
[Yesterday at 08:20:10 PM]


WTT Lee precision Load Master press (9mm dies) by funkmasterfresh
[Yesterday at 08:02:10 PM]


Unlawful ATF Now Sued Over Unconstitutional ďRulingĒ On Gun Parts Sales (Video) by wolfbait
[Yesterday at 07:59:49 PM]


Turkey calls for sale by The100Road
[Yesterday at 07:59:19 PM]


Gun smith's and boat anchors by jackelope
[Yesterday at 07:49:02 PM]


FOR SALE Vortex Viper PST Gen 2 3-15X44 W/ Rings by trophyhunt
[Yesterday at 07:31:08 PM]

SimplePortal 2.3.7 © 2008-2022, SimplePortal