The end of another season is in sight. Here’s how to make the most of the time that’s left
The calendar betrays us. Sure, a few duck seasons remain in full swing, but February beckons, and the end is near. So don’t just play out the clock this year. Make the final days of your duck season memorable by trying new things. Getting out of your comfort zone might put a few more birds in the boat and spark a fresh perspective. Here are some suggestions.
1. Go Back
Life happens, and duck hunters are often guilty of ignoring old spots and seeing old buddies less often. That’s a shame, because waterfowling is centered around traditions and friendships. So before this season ends, revisit a long-forgotten area, and reflect on the lessons and good times you enjoyed there. Better yet, invite a pal you haven’t hunted with for a while. You can swap stories and renew your friendship, even if the ducks don’t keep you busy that day.
2. Get Weird
Conventional tactics typically work well with fresh birds or during ducky weather. But they become much less effective on stale ducks. When the shooting gets tough, experiment with whacky strategies. Pull the spinners and run several jerk rigs. Pare your spread down to a few blocks. Switch up your calling strategies. Experiment with off-the-wall ideas to see how ducks react. They might surprise you.
3. Get Mobile
Travel more during the late season. Expand your scouting efforts well beyond familiar ground, searching for new water, fresh fields and possibly untouched birds. Take an impromptu weekend trip to another state or region — even if it’s only an exploratory mission. Refuse to simply hunt the same old spots while expecting different results.
4. Switch Species
Many waterfowlers fail because they refuse to take what’s on their plate. We resolve, for example, to shoot only greenheads while ignoring “lesser” ducks. Or we stick doggedly to timber when flooded fields might provide better action. Don’t be bull-headed. If mallards are tough but specks are abundant, chase geese. When puddle ducks are scarce, throw some diver decoys on big water. Shoot spoonies. Make the most of the best opportunities available. You can return to greenheads when a fresh flight arrives.
5. Take a New Hunter
How many of us sacrifice a potentially productive day during the peak of duck season to take a kid hunting? Change that. It doesn’t even need to be a kid. Invite a neighbor who’s shown interest in waterfowling. Take your nephew and his buddies. Create an atmosphere of discovery and camaraderie instead of fretting about filling your strap. This requires work, and you might blow up a good spot. So what? Passing on the tradition you love can prove far more rewarding than killing six ducks by yourself.
6. Get Hard-Nosed
Waterfowling wears down your body and mind, and you’re often whipped by season’s end. Don’t fret. The period between duck season and turkey season offers ample opportunity for rest. Meanwhile, get your tail out there. When action is tough, go more often, and hunt longer. When birds are scattered, scout more aggressively, and walk farther. Push the pedal to the floor until the season ends.
You’ll never daydream about a January day spent in the recliner.
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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.