Yamaha Outdoors Tips — Last Call for Waterfowl
By Steve Hickoff
Slate-gray skies touched with orange at daybreak. Falling snowflakes. Distant ducks trading back and forth on the horizon.
You haven't had enough of it, have you?
It's all good. As the New Year begins, duck and goose opportunities continue, from the northern New England state of New Hampshire where you can hunt coastal zone ducks and geese until Jan. 11, 2009 at places like Great Bay’s fabled wintering area, and sea ducks through Jan. 15 offshore near saltwater ledges, all the way down to Arkansas's flooded timber where duck season (likely a greenhead) runs until Jan. 25. California’s quacker season extends until Jan. 23 as well. Others too.
Here are three last-call tips for the hardcore duck and goose hunter:
DITCH THE MAN-MADE BLINDES
I’ve used plenty, and they work especially well for early-season, “happy hour” ducks and geese. By now, those birds have seen everything. Try to hide yourself in a section of uncut cornfield, or among cattails, spartina, or even rocks in coastal areas. You’ll travel lighter, and blend in better for wary late birds.
VARY DECOY SPREADS
Like you, I have my favorite looks, but to be more effective now you’ve got to mix things up and think like geese and ducks. Add to the number of full bodies you use. Cut down on the amount too. If you usually put three-dozen fakes out per man, cut that by a third or more, and so on. Mix it up. By now I’m sure some of those decoys are mud splattered. Clean them up before the hunt too with a brush and hot water. Make ‘em look real.
YOU'VE GOT TO MOVE IT, MOVE IT
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that your first decoy spread of the morning may not be your last. Time and again, even during this past season, waterfowl have shown me where I should have been that morning. The next day I made good on their lesson. Don’t hesitate to move during your hunts either. It takes some effort to repack 36 goose shells and stakes, but hey, it’s worth it sometimes.
Those four wheels will surely help.