Skip to main content

Duck Hunting Tactics--Stay On The Move For Success

Duck Hunting Tactics--Stay On The Move For Success
Fresh Fowl: Finding the proverbial X in duck hunting can often bring a limit of ducks to the strap. But sometimes, a hunter has to be willing to turn the lights out on a cold spot, striking out in a quest to find some new fowl real estate. Photo by Lynn Burkhead

Even the best scouted spots can turn cold. When that happens, waterfowlers need to strike out into the unknown to find some fresh wildfowl real estate.

In the best duck hunting blinds, successful hunters often tell weekend warriors like myself to find the "X."

And once you find that magical spot, throw the decoys out, get the cocobolo call ready, and think of your favorite duck recipes.

But sometimes, the X isn't so magical. Be it stale ducks, the migration of local birds, a change in the weather, or nearby hunting pressure, skies that were full of whispering wings yesterday may suddenly be devoid of chattering mallards today. When you hit this kind of dry spell, a fresh start may be needed, sometimes even in the middle of a hunt.


That is something that I learned a number of years ago from one of my hunting mentors, Jim Lillis, a longtime waterfowling friend and a retired senior regional director for Ducks Unlimited.


Having chased mallards and their feathered cousins for slightly more than 40 years, my North Texas pal has repeatedly told me over the years that the No. 1 adage in hunting late-season greenheads is the same one that real estate agents tout — "location, location, location."

Photo by Lynn Burkhead

Scout Then Hunt

Over the years, as Lillis has hunted public reservoirs that dot our region, he's never been afraid to strike out with the binoculars, looking for new territory when necessary.


"If they [mallards] are using willow trees or a certain spot in the marsh, you need to set up as close to that spot as you absolutely can the next morning," said Lillis, touting the scout-then-hunt approach that so many of us rely upon.

But if that scouted spot of yesterday suddenly grows cold today, Lillis adds that hunters shouldn't wait around too long, hoping that the trend somehow reverses itself.

You know, that try, try again thing.


If It Isn't Working, Move!

A late-season hunt several years ago on a flooded north Texas lake proved that idea to me in spades. Setting up in a good mallard hole before dawn, we thought that we were in the magical spot, the proverbial X as daylight approached.

But as the sun rose, flock after flock would circle wide, then quickly disappear overhead, heading for parts unseen.

After a steady diet of this, my group of hunters decided to grab a few decoys and wade deep into the newly flooded shoreline woods to see what we could see.

Nearly an hour later, we were tired, sweaty, and a little bit on the grumpy side.

But we were also full of new hope, set up on a small hole of open water that we had discovered in the woods, chattering out feed calls on our wooden and acrylic duck calls while the morning grew deeper.

What happened?

Well, our post-hunt photos later on that day certainly revealed a group of tired hunters and retrieving canines to be sure.

But they also revealed a group of smiling faces posing with limit-filled duck straps of greenheads and even a couple of pintail sprigs.

Proving that the idea mentioned at the outset of this story - try, try again - has plenty of merit, even in the duck hunting world.

As long as you're willing to strike out into the unknown to find a good piece of new fowl real estate that is.

Because sometimes, that's the necessary ingredient in a successful hunt, even after finding the magical X.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Women

Women's Waterfowl Lineup

SITKA Gear waterfowl product manager Jim Saubier shows off the company's full line-up of women's waterfowl hunting gear for 2019. From warm and moisture-wicking base layers to water and windproof outer layers, this is a complete system for women who love to chase fall and wintertime ducks and geese across the four flyways!

Picking a Puppy

Picking a Puppy

Wildfowl contributor Mark Romanack shares advice about choosing your next retriever.

Franchi 12-Gauge Affinity Semiauto Shotgun

Franchi 12-Gauge Affinity Semiauto Shotgun

Craig Boddington and Eric Poole take a look at the new modern Franchi Affinity shotgun.

Swedish Duck Hunt

Swedish Duck Hunt

Kevin Steele takes part in a family driven duck hunt in Sweden.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Mallards are masters of avoiding hunting pressure.Are Mallard Ducks Becoming Nocturnal? Conservation

Are Mallard Ducks Becoming Nocturnal?

David Hart

Mallards are masters of avoiding hunting pressure.

A teacher made a $100 row boat into a bluebill's worst nightmare, and a dog's best friend.  Convert a Row Boat into a Bluebill Blind Boats

Convert a Row Boat into a Bluebill Blind

Mike Marsh

A teacher made a $100 row boat into a bluebill's worst nightmare, and a dog's best friend.  

Perfect for party gatherings, these spicy bacon-wrapped poppers come from a Sooner State hunting fan who likes the taste of fresh duck breasts hot off the grill.Bacon-Wrapped Duck Breast Poppers Recipe Recipes

Bacon-Wrapped Duck Breast Poppers Recipe

Lynn Burkhead

Perfect for party gatherings, these spicy bacon-wrapped poppers come from a Sooner State...

We found Migra's shells to be plenty capable of taking down ducks and geese. A Closer Look at Migra Ammo Ammo

A Closer Look at Migra Ammo

John M. Taylor

We found Migra's shells to be plenty capable of taking down ducks and geese.

See More Trending Articles

More Hunting Tactics

Deadly shallow-water hunters show you how to kill more greenheads and geese.How to Hunt Shallow Rivers for Mallards & Geese Hunting Tactics

How to Hunt Shallow Rivers for Mallards & Geese

Joe Genzel

Deadly shallow-water hunters show you how to kill more greenheads and geese.

There is no bigger advantage to killing greenheads in the late season than an open duck hole.The Open Water Advantage for Late Season Duck Hunting Hunting Tactics

The Open Water Advantage for Late Season Duck Hunting

Brad Fitzpatrick

There is no bigger advantage to killing greenheads in the late season than an open duck hole.

With birds talking, calls sounding and wind blowing, it can be tough to hear the call from the other side of the blind. Calling the Shot is Critical to Waterfowling Success Hunting Tactics

Calling the Shot is Critical to Waterfowling Success

Alex Langbell

With birds talking, calls sounding and wind blowing, it can be tough to hear the call from the...

Follow these tips for hunting snow geese on your own!Hunting Snow Geese Solo Hunting Tactics

Hunting Snow Geese Solo

Joe Weimer

Follow these tips for hunting snow geese on your own!

See More Hunting Tactics

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Wildfowl App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Wildfowl subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now