Planning to sit out for the long haul? Read this first
Sometimes, hunting all day is the only way to eke out full straps of ducks, and those ordeals can test your resolve and mettle. Careful preparation and a solid mindset can help you succeed during daybreak-to-sunset “grinder” hunts. Let’s examine three critical considerations to pull off sunup-to-sundown sits.
Pick Your Battles
It’s senseless to consider an all-day hunt if the effort likely won’t pay. A full-day boat-hunt during a cold, windy November day on the Mississippi River will probably produce several chances at canvasbacks and other ducks. However, a warm, sunny day at the local wood duck pond promises little but early-morning action and midday heat stroke. In the latter case, you’re better off pulling up stakes after 90 minutes, tending to chores at work or home and then perhaps returning for the evening flight.
Examine the situation before plotting an all-day hunt. Weather always plays a big role. Cold temps, brisk winds or an incoming front might keep birds moving throughout daylight. Unseasonably balmy conditions and light breezes usually stifle midday flights.
Also, remember the species you’ll likely encounter. Divers might fly throughout the day, especially if a fresh flight has arrived. Mallards and honkers often don’t, especially if they’re locked in a pattern of roosting on big water, feeding during early mornings and late evenings, and loafing at smaller waters during the day. Pressure can play a role, too. Some busy public areas can be more productive during late mornings and early afternoons, when most guys have quit.
Pick Your Company
You can’t pull off an all-day deal without a positive attitude. If you hunt with partners, they must share your rosy outlook. Nothing ends a hunt sooner than a whiney blind buddy or a guy who keeps grumbling about how he’s wasting time. Discuss plans well before the hunt, and make sure everyone can commit to the time and effort required.
Likewise, all-day efforts fly by faster if you hunt with a fun, entertaining crew. Forced conversation, awkward silence or simmering disagreements can make you want to leave at noon. But swapping stories and awful jokes with like-minded goofballs makes a hunt enjoyable and memorable, no matter how many birds you kill. Really, that camaraderie and spirit of the hunt encapsulate what waterfowling is about.
When I was 25, I’d pull off “kin-till-you-can’t” hunts — staying on the water from when I could see until dark — with nothing more than a morning cup of coffee. Forget that plan nowadays. And I’m guessing most guys are like me.
Comfort contributes heavily to patience. Dress appropriately for all-day hunts, layering your clothing so you can strip away outer garments as the day warms. If needed, rig your boat, blind or pit with a heater to ward off the chill. And a blind roof or at least quality raingear will keep you dry when it rains or snows.
Realtree waterfowl editor Brian Lovett has been an obsessive duck and goose hunter for more than 30 years, chasing his passion on the Dakota prairies and the marshes and open water of his home state of Wisconsin. He's been a writer and editor in the outdoors industry since 1991.