The 5 Most Frustrating Waterfowl Hunting Scenarios

(And How You Can Beat the Odds and Win)

By
Warm and Calm

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1 | Warm and Calm

Balmy bluebird days get waterfowlers grumbling like nothing else. They might represent the toughest conditions for hunting ducks and geese.

You can stave off the blues by accepting the weather and making the most of what nature offers. Ducks will still move at first and last light. Be in position to take advantage of those brief windows. Geese will still hit fields to feed. Scout your tail off to make sure you’re on the X.

When morning action inevitably stalls, pick up and move on. Jump-shoot likely creeks, rivers or shoreline areas. Or redouble scouting efforts to find loafing geese or relaxed concentrations of ducks. You’ll be in better shape when the weather gets right.

Photo © Craig Watson

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Migration but Stale Ducks

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2 | Migration but Stale Ducks

This situation often goes hand in hand with No. 1, but it might be more frustrating. The migration is on, but those “fresh” birds have experienced some pressure and now act just as bad as local fowl.

Again, put yourself in position for any early-morning or late-afternoon action birds provide. But consider hunting less and scouting more, trying to find pockets of birds that feel secure or are relatively undisturbed. That might require lots of windshield time, boot leather and gasoline for the boat, but it almost always pays off. I don’t care how much pressure hunters have put on migrants in your area. There’s a spot no one’s bothered. You just have to find it.

Photo © Tom Rassuchine/Banded

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Off the X, Can’t Move

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3 | Off the X, Can’t Move

Some days, we identify the X but can’t hunt it. Maybe geese are landing in a field next to one where you have permission to hunt. Or perhaps mallards and gaddies are circling into a slough just off your property. Either way, you’re not on the hotspot.

Make the best of it. Run traffic as best you can. Set out large, enticing spreads in open fields or water, and attract the attention of birds with aggressive calling, flagging and other motion-creating setups. In green timber, get on that call, and don’t let off until you see feet and fannies dropping into your hole. Usually, you can entice enough peripheral birds to enjoy a good shoot.

Photo © Tom Rassuchine/Banded

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Pressure

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4 | Pressure

Hunting pressure really frustrates folks, and it can ruin your day. If possible, make other hunters work for you. Observe the situation for a bit, and note the flight paths of escaping birds. If possible, identify spots where spooked ducks or geese land to find solitude and security. Then, put yourself on a flight line to intercept fleeing birds, or, better, find that out-of-the-way spot where ducks or geese feel safe, and set a small spread there.

Photo © Tom Rassuchine/Banded

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A Flock Lands, Pulling Everything Away

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5 | A Flock Lands, Pulling Everything Away

Yeah, this is tough. If you’re hunting ducks or geese in a field, get out of your blind and walk at the birds until they flush. Then, resume hunting at your setup, or move a few decoys to the spot where the birds landed.

This situation is much trickier over water, as the law typically prohibits hunters from hazing, harassing or otherwise disturbing birds on water unless you’re engaged in legal jump-shooting. In such cases, you’re better off reverting to a traffic mentality, trying everything in your power to get the attention of ducks or geese before they lock onto their live brethren and join them. With motion, a big spread and good calling, you’ll pull in enough birds to save the day.

Photo © Sundry Photography/Shutterstock

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By nature, hunting wild birds brings frustration. Weather, fellow hunters and other situations sometimes conspire to stomp our best plans into the marsh muck, leaving us cussing our favorite activity.

Don’t get mad. Get after it. Identify these frustrating scenarios and try some quick fixes to come out on top.

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