Waterfowling might be the most social hunting of all. It lets you share a blind or pit with several buddies, laughing and talking while waiting for the next flock. But some of the best duck hunts are best experienced alone. It doesn’t matter if they’re dictated by circumstances or your mood — these solo forays can be rewarding and memorable. Here are six of them.
1. New Haunts
Exploring new areas lets us find hidden gems and eliminate unproductive water. But these ventures are often one-man jobs. Dragging a big crew into unknown territory in the dark can lead to confusion, chaos and lots of jabs if the action is poor. Instead, investigate new spots on your own and report to your buddies afterward. If you find birds, you can always bring a group later. And when you strike out, you won’t have to hear any griping.
2. Old Haunts
Sometimes, you want to hunt an old spot to soak up the old memories. Killing ducks becomes secondary. You’re more concerned with checking out a blind or slough from bygone days, noting how the area has changed and recalling great hunts that occurred there. And typically, those outings are more enjoyable alone. You can set your pace, quit when you want and just savor the day without worry.
3. Work Arounds
The best time to hunt ducks is when you can, whether that means pass-shooting wood ducks for 15 minutes before your shift or sitting in the diver blind for an hour at the end of the day. Hunting alone just before or after work maximizes your efficiency and takes advantage of what will likely be limited opportunities. But beware: You might have to change clothes in the office parking lot, and no one wants to see that.
4. Tiny Spots
Hot fields and loaded sloughs are perfect for big groups. Tiny potholes and creeks that might hold a dozen birds scream for one hunter. This can be a tough call, as you don’t want to be selfish. The solution? Identify several spots of varying size and quality. Let your buddies hunt bigger waters in pairs or groups, and then slip into smaller areas alone for a quick shoot.
5. Special Hunts with Your Dog
Never sat alone on the slough or shoreline and talked with your retriever? You’re missing out on special times. Now and then, it’s nice to slip away and enjoy a simple, easy hunt with your best partner. Such hunts are especially enjoyable with older dogs, and they can be critical when training new pups. Focus on your pooch, and eliminate distractions. You won’t have to worry about your buddies calling shots or shooting early. But you still might have to share your snacks.
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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.