Some of my most valuable duck-hunting lessons have come from experienced hunters who took the time to share their knowledge. Maybe it was because they once had someone help them the same way. Or maybe my horrible calling and novice decoy spreads flared ducks away from them and they had no choice. Whatever the case, good duck hunting advice is the foundation of learning this sport. But not all advice is good.
One time a guy showed me an Arkansas slough that was shoulder-to-shoulder with ducks, but said, “We don’t have a blind in there. There’s no way to hunt ‘em.”
I mentioned the thick cattails lining the edge of the surrounding slough, and he shook his head. “That’ll never work, but I guess you can try it.”
For two hours, a buddy and I stood in the cattails, knee-deep in the mud, and shot ducks hovering over our decoys at 15 yards. Good thing we ignored the “friendly advice.”
How many times have you heard someone say a cloudy, rainy day “looks like a ducky day”? But given the choice, most puddle duck hunters would much rather have a clear blue sky and moderate north wind over clouds and rain.
Chances are good you’ve heard some bad waterfowling advice over the years. We polled a group of seasoned hunters to hear the worst advice they’ve ever gotten. Here’s what we found.
Richie McKnight: Owner, Folded Wing Outdoors, Dawson Springs, Ky.
McKnight has hunted geese from Canada to Mexico and has seen about every type of goose decoy under the sun. Though he uses full-bodies and certainly believes they’re effective, he’s killed more geese over big spreads of regular decoys than anything else. McKnight still supplements his goose spreads with 10 dozen older Carry-Lite Super Mag goose decoys, affectionately called “Kentucky tri-folds.”
“I’ll never forget the time I had a writer hunting with me in Illinois, and we had 10 dozen of those Carry-Lites and five dozen full-bodies out in our spread,” McKnight says. “He asked me where he needed to position to take photos of the geese coming into the spread. I told him to get on the end where he could see the Super Mags, and he said, ‘No way any goose would land in those dinosaur-looking things.’ But by the end of the morning, he was trying to buy all those decoys. Every goose that worked the spread landed right there.
“The point is, decoys today have come a long way. They are more realistic, and the paint is spot-on. But don’t underestimate the power of big numbers of regular decoys. All that black and white is visible from a long way, and it can help you build a big spread at low cost.”