Improve Your Duck Hunt With These 5 Tips

Duck Hunting
Mallard duck flying over the lake

Waterfowling has a long-time reputation as a sustainable wildlife conservation option for duck hunters ready for October hunting, depending on your state. Not only is October excellent and not too hot, but northern ducks and geese typically fly from Canada into the United States. 

However, no matter your hunt, season, or waterfowl preference, here are the five best tips to improve your duck hunt year-round.

Proper equipment

Ensure you have the right equipment to get started with – your firearm, your ammunition, and of course, the perfect camouflage (

It’s no good to get out there and realize you’ve forgotten the essentials, so it’s always wise to double-check your equipment before you head out.

Always start with local mud wetlands

Ducks prefer to feed on protein-rich insects, crustaceans, and aquatic plants such as pondweed and wild celery species that you will typically find only near muddy wetlands at dawn and dusk. It is rare to find ducks that feed in deep waters that are clean and clear. 

Instead, ducks find food underneath large bodies of shallow muddy water during the first wave of bird migrations. You can mimic this phenomenon by stirring up the shallow water, grazing the soil with a paddle, or stomping through the marsh. 

Follow the duck’s call rhythm

Although ducks are not shy to respond to a call, ducks have distinct notes that are high or low with cadences that are unique amongst one another, forming into five to eight note sequences. Therefore, over-calling or calling at the wrong time can deter your hunt. 

So, next time you’re out on the water, call your ducks with one five-note greeting when they begin to search for another area to graze or seem indecisive. Avoid calling when they are active, flying, and interacting with your decoys. They may become skeptical and unresponsive.

Get your decoys dirty

Have you ever wondered if your brand new decoy flare ducks? If so, you may be right. Ducks have a natural ability to recognize and observe organic movement. They can notice movement from high in the sky and can become skeptical when the action appears unnatural. 

Therefore, your decoy should look natural. For example, instead of placing your decoy on land or in the water, try using multiple old hen decoys with dull pale colors that mimic the natural color of waterfowl. Or shovel mud over your hens so they appear wethered in natural camouflage – even apply what you would do on a deer hunt.

Scatter your decoys 

The duck decoy spread is diverse and adaptable to the environment. Depending on the hunt, motion decoys may be better than still decoys. And in most instances, using both can be highly effective. 

Hunting for waterfowl on a small river should employ an open water spread that allows nearby ducks a lounge space that keeps them within range. And placing your decoys behind your land will help attract ducks. 

However, the fish hook spread can easily guide your ducks into the landing zone, no matter the hunting condition. And the double O is an exceptional starting arrangement for experienced duck hunters looking for large flocks. 

Be prepared for your next duck hunt

Getting the hang of duck hunting can be a headache, but once you implement our best tips to improve your duck hunting.

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