9 Tips for Free-Lance Duck Hunting in Green Timber

On a Timber-Greenhead Quest This Winter? Here's How to Do It

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Travel LightUse an Open-Choked GunLearn to Call Well Dress WarmPlan Ahead for Your DogFind a HoleHunt the Second ShiftThe Colder the BetterGo Where the Ducks Are

1 | Travel Light

For consistent success, you must be mobile. Decoys are more trouble than they’re worth. Because you never know where the ducks will want to be, you must be able to quickly pick up and move.

Photo © Bill Konway

2 | Use an Open-Choked Gun

Most shots in timber will be fairly close, often less than 25 yards. Almost always, modified is more than enough choke, and improved-cylinder is usually better. Nor do you need a 12-gauge. My favorite timber gun? A Charles Daly 20-gauge over-and-under, choked modified and improved-cylinder.

Photo © Bill Konway

3 | Learn to Call Well

Ducks find other ducks in timber by sound, not sight, and in public woods, you’re going to compete with some of the best callers on the planet. Unless you’re pretty good, you’ll be sorely disadvantaged.

Photo © Bill Konway

4 | Dress Warm

Unnecessary advice? Maybe. But standing around in 2 to 3 feet of ice water all morning is a heat-draining experience. Wear at least two layers of insulated underwear bottoms, along with your heavy denim or canvas hunting pants.

Photo © Tom Rassuchine/Banded

5 | Plan Ahead for Your Dog

You’ll be standing in water, not sitting in a boat or blind. Bring a strap-on platform to get your dog out of the water, or hunt only where there are fallen trees or logs your dog can climb on. (It’s truly best to leave the dog at home. But that sounds like heresy to a dog man, so I won’t say it.)

Photo © Tom Rassuchine/Banded

6 | Find a Hole

Ducks like to come to the water through a break in the canopy, just as a human walks a trail rather than busting through the brush. Find a place where the timber is naturally thin or where a large tree has fallen and left an opening where its crown used to be.

Photo © Bill Konway

7 | Hunt the Second Shift

After the early-morning flight, the action in flooded woods usually slows, and many hunters quit. That’s a mistake. Often, duck movement resumes at mid-morning or later, and that late flight is sometimes even better than the early flight. You’ll have less competition from other hunters, too.

Photo © Bill Konway

8 | The Colder the Better

The forest canopy offers protection from cold, so flooded woods stay unfrozen longer than open water or flooded fields. You might have to break ice to reach open water, but some of the best timber hunting you’ll find occurs when everything else is frozen.

Photo © Bill Konway

9 | Go Where the Ducks Are

This sounds overly simplistic, but with few exceptions, the best green-timber hunting is in the lower Mississippi River valley, from the Missouri Bootheel down through Arkansas, western Tennessee, western Mississippi, eastern Arkansas and northeastern Louisiana. Fortunately, there’s an abundance of public green-timber hunting in this region.

Photo © Tom Rassuchine/Banded