By Steve Hickoff
Most times, if a waterfowler can get several dozen decoys to a duck pothole or good goose field, they’ll try to double or triple that number by calling a bud, or hauling them in on the back of their Yamaha ATV or Side-by-Side.
Field goose hunters often stake hundreds. Why? From above, as birds wing in, there’s nothing like a good spread of fakes in a reliable location with food to pull migrators or residents in.
Other times however it pays to only focus on the location. Calling and decoying might not even be necessary factors if you’re pressed for time, or yeah, just a little lazy that morning. Here’s why.
ACORN CRAZED WOODIES
Small stream and backwater wood ducks feed heavily on the fallen acorns from oaks along winding waters. Scouting (and listening hard) before the season opens or reopens after a split can put you where you need to be. As flyways go, up north the big wood duck take is clearly in the early season. As the months progress and ducks move south, it naturally picks up along the way. Need decoys? Again, it’s a viable option but not always required.
FRESHLY CUT FIELDS
Nothing says “pile on in” to geese and ducks as a freshly cut cornfield. Need decoys? Not really. A reliable layout blind would be helpful though in terms of concealment. The key here is to study bird movements. Pattern their food source timing. Talk to the farmer to check with their plans. Place yourself right on the “X” and wait for the geese and ducks to arrive.
HARD RAIN COMING
And speaking of cut fields, one tactic for getting on ducks can be setting up on newly formed flooded pastures or overflowing river bends. Again, glassing such sights can add plenty to your measure of success. Watch what the birds are doing. Then be there the next morning. Sure decoys might help coax them into a particular location in such flooded farm conditions, but it’s not always necessary.
WATERFOWL FLASH HUNTS
Want to travel light and not have to lug gear to and from your truck one more time? Try a flash hunt in a location where you’ve been seeing birds. With just camouflaged chest waders, some face paint (or mask), plus a knit cap as apparel—and your shotgun and loads as well—you’re in business.
Have you ever had duck or goose hunting success without using decoys? Please let us know on the Yamaha Outdoors Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/YamahaOutdoors