5 Tips for Waterfowl Opening Day
Duck Season is just around the corner for many states and in some states the season has already started. Migrating birds are starting to head south. With the seasons getting ready to start we thought we would share some waterfowl opening day tips to keep in mind for success in the field.
Work with Your Dog
As the season approaches, your lab that has been sitting around all summer long is likely a little out of shape physically and mentally. Take the time to get your dog out several times a week leading up to the season. Work with your dog on holding until you release him as well as on retrieves, blind retrieves and casting. Get him swimming in the water during the month before the season starts so that your pup is in shape and ready for the season.
Scout and Plan for Success
The week before opening day, spend some time driving, scouting and glassing for ducks in the air and where they are landing. The more knowledge you have about where the ducks are and where they want to be will help you decide where to place yourself. Pay attention to the weather and check forecasts. We use Scoutlook Weather to help us plan our hunts. Remember to pay attention to the wind direction so you know where to set up your decoys.
Use an App to help you Plan
Scouting has become easier with the addition of some new tools afforded to waterfowl hunters by technology. There is no replacement for good old fashioned scouting, but a helpful app called Waterfowl Tracker (www.waterfowltracker.com) is a great way to document what you’re seeing and to learn from the guys north of you in your migration corridor. One feature provides push notifications when there is severe weather north of your location or when guys in your areas create a harvest report. Similar to the Ducks Unlimited app, we prefer Waterfowl Tracker for its single focus on helping waterfowl hunters track migration.
Use a Crossing Angle
Many hunters set up blinds and decoy spreads so that the wind is right behind them. Ducks like to land flying into the wind so when they come in on a direct angle, it is easy for the ducks to pick off hunters, flare and disappear out of range. If you set up on a crossing angle and the ducks are paying attention to what is directly in front of them, you may pull up to take them too late. If they flare in the wind you can often get a second or even third shot on the ducks.
Prepare Your Gear
Clean your decoys of any dirt and grime from the season before. I often take my decoys to the local quarter car wash, spread them out in the back of my truck and wash them down. Check all of your decoy lines, bags and get all of your gear in tip-top shape. This is also a great time to pattern your shotgun, check your chokes and clean, lubricate and protect your shotgun. We like the new line of Otis chemicals. We carry the upland Wingshooter Cleaning System from Otis in our blind bag because we never know when we might need it in the field.
Prepare Your Calls and Your Calling
This is a great time to get out your call lanyard and check and clean every call. Calls get dirty and germy. Now is a great time to clean them. Soak your plastic and acrylic calls and reeds in mild soap and rinse very well. Don’t forget to clean between the reeds. I like to soak the call briefly in Listerine mouthwash to kill any germs. Assemble the calls and check your lanyards to ensure your calls are secure. Practice your calling and gather your hunting buddies around a campfire or grill prior to the season to work on calling as a team. Nothing gets you in calling shape like working with others.
Be safe out there and be sure to submit your photos of that opening day success and tag us at #huntinglife on all social media. We will share photos with our fans on our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/huntinglife and Twitter. We want to share in your success. If you have additional waterfowl opening day success tips, please add them into the comments below so we can all learn and grow.