It’s that time of the year where eager wildfowlers will be busy preparing for their first duck and goose shooting session of the season.
Wildfowling requires considerable stamina and patience, so before you rush off to the foreshore, splash pond or riverbank make sure you have planned your chosen method.
Calling is a difficult skill to master, if not used correctly your quarry won’t venture in your direction. Learning this skill can make the difference between a blank flight and having several birds in your bag. The number one rule when it comes to calling is practice. Spend time researching the sound you are trying to mimic; it needs to be as realistic as possible.
Remember, make sure your call is appropriate for the quarry you are trying to call, if you use the wrong one, the birds will take notice.
Flags are very handy tools, they are designed to imitate landing and wing stretches. They are operated by hand in a very simple fashion, just a few flicks of the wrist. If timed correctly you’ll be surprised how affective they can be. Be sure not to overdo it, the aim is to tease the birds.
Once the flags get the birds attention the decoy rigs will get them to get close enough for you to take a safe shot.
Decoy Rigging –
Decoys play an important part of your wildfowling shooting session. Your quarry need to think that the area is clear and that they can land without disturbance, this is where a good decoy comes into play.
Your decoys might be a bit worn and tired from your previous shooting session, repair any holes from shotgun pellets, touch up worn paint jobs and replace missing anchor weights.
Once your decoys are ready it’s time to get them rigged up. There are many different ways to rig decoys, the conventional way is to tie cord to the keel and then wrap it around the decoy’s neck. This style of rigging could potential wear away the paint. Another way to set your rig would be to tie a tangle-free cord to the lowest hole on the front of the decoy, which would allow you to wrap it up around the keel and use the notch at the front to keep the cord secure. If you use tangle-free cord you will be able to carry several decoys at once without getting them tied up.
Rough Shooting -
Stalking can be testing and frustrating, but also rewarding. When deciding your stalking route there are a few questions you need to think about. How long will it take you to reach the birds? How many birds are you expecting to see? Are there any obstacles that could potentially be an issue? Will changes in weather conditions effect your path? If you can confidently reach your shooting spot without any distributions you will have a better chance of success.
Remember, stalking is incredibly exciting but it is a very challenging sport that takes a mixture of skill and timing.
Here are a few wildfowling tips from Realtree International Pro-Team member, Keith Anderson.
Make sure that your gun is up to the job. Wildfowling can take you to some nasty terrain with mud, sand and silt lurking, waiting to get into every moving part of your gun. Ensure your gun is in tiptop condition; everything is tight and in good working order. Recoil from heavy cartridges can rattle the gun as well so it's important you have a gun that's up to the job.
Best wildfowling weather for me is when it's windy, cold and raining... They go hand in hand with wildfowling, so after the shoot, ensure that you strip your gun down and give it a good clean.
I'm a huge Max-5 fan when it comes to wildfowling, as it seems to fit in everywhere. Stubble fields, Marshland and riverbanks are all covered with this camouflage thanks to the green, browns and light straw coloured pattern. My Deerhunter Rusky outfit keeps me warm, dry and hidden on those long winter goose flights.
Take a dog! Lastly, my advice is to never go wildfowling without a dog unless you are fighting inland stubble fields where you can mark and collect your quarry easily. Rivers, ponds and the foreshore will require a strong swimming dog to retrieve the birds you have shot, otherwise you stand a chance of loosing your hard earned and potentially tasty quarry.
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