In this article, we have systematized the basic laws and rules for duck hunting. We want to share some secrets that work well in any season and will be useful for beginners. Here are some tips from passionate duck hunters regarding bait, decoys, equipment and features of duck hunting. We want you to be as well equipped with knowledge as you are with weapons. So let’s get started.
Main rules of duck hunt.
The basic rules for duck hunting are regulated at three levels: state, federal, and state laws. Sometimes, for your particular area, there may be additional rules. Every duck hunter is required to know and comply with all rules and restrictions. Anyone who breaks the law will be punished with a heavy fine.
One of the main types of restrictions is a ban on hunting at the bait. Bait is considered to be any type of food available to ducks before it is depleted and 10 days after. This does not include spilled grains from human agricultural activities and harvest residues. Grain for feeding white-tailed deer or other protected species is also considered bait and hunting is prohibited.
The law prohibits hunting with the help of poisons, drugs and explosives, and automatic weapons. Any weapon with a caliber over 10 is prohibited. As for shotguns, there is a ban on having more than three rounds in a weapon. There is also a ban on catching from a moving vehicle – a car, motor or sailing boat. The exception is a boat with a folded sail and the engine off. You cannot catch ducks with a net, a fishing hook and from under any underwater structure.
The regulations forbid catching ducks using live birds as bait and only allow non-toxic projectiles.
Hours of hunting are better to check on the spot. As for the size of the bag, it is individual for each state and district, depending on local circumstances. Each hunter is obliged to strictly observe the limit. Quite often there is a requirement to keep the head and/or one wing of a duck with full plumage for correct identification of the species and confirmation of the limit. The limit is not transferable to another person and requires strict accountability. Each duck must be tagged with species, date, hunter’s name and address. The tag is stored until the moment of final transportation and direct use. When leaving the prey in the care of another person, the presence of a data tag is mandatory.
In addition to the tag, you need a state hunting license, a stamp for duck hunting and sometimes a local stamp for hunting waterfowl. Duck stamps can be obtained at any point of sale of hunting equipment or on the Internet. Duck stamps must be signed by you personally, using ink on the front of the stamp. If you wish to hunt on a private property instead of a public property, you must obtain written permission from the owner. All documents must be kept with you until you arrive home.
The hunter needs to follow the colors of the area in which he hunts. A suit that perfectly hid you in the bright greens of spring will not work just as well in the summer. All colors fade and burn out, burnt grass, brown, wet branches come to the fore. Green John should be changed to something calmer in terms of colors. If you are hunting in the cold season, with fallen snow, then the camouflage should also be appropriate for the season.
Do not forget that the camouflage of the boat, curtains and shelters must also be modified in accordance with the terrain. In addition, it would be wise to renew burnt areas and replace bald pieces of equipment. For example, using a stencil to restore camouflage on a boat. Attach an elastic cord to it and fasten local vegetation under it – branches, parts of plants. All these manipulations will benefit all the equipment and help your disguise.
The right waders will give you options for layering and keep you dry. Choose the option according to the season in which you plan to hunt. They are useful not only for collecting trophies, but also during rainfall.
Learn from more successful hunters.
The most effective way to learn is hunting with an experienced mentor. Look for those around you. If no one shares your hobby, take the initiative and meet your hobby colleagues in the hunting grounds. Quite often there are real pros who do not mind giving some practical advice and demonstrating it in action.
Reconnaissance of the area and collection of information.
Explore the area, go through it on foot. Pay attention to migration routes, weather, look for information about the water level in reservoirs, wind direction, angle of sunlight. Ask locals about the accumulation of ducks and their unusual behavior. Specify the places of potential baits. If possible, take part in local conservation programs. Volunteers and wildlife officers willingly share observations and can be quite helpful. On the Internet you can find mapping applications with the designation of private and public areas, with contact details and much other useful information. Gather as much as you can before be being ambushed.
It will be useful for a beginner to start with an inexpensive set of several ducks. In addition to ducks, it is worth getting a rope to disturb the water and create a splash of a feeding duck. Flapping wings work well. Your goal is to mimic the movements of a feeding flock of ducks. Ducks flying past should feel close food and a safe place in the company of their own kind.
How to place decoys.
It makes sense not to put dummies of ducks close to your ambush. You need to place them on the edge of your sphere of influence so that the sun is behind you and the ducks are in the eyes. The ducks should aim for the source of the sound through the line of fire from your weapon. In addition, they will hear the natural noise of a feeding pack, rather than human speech or the clanging of metal parts of weapons.
The scene must match the season, weather and time of day. If it is cold, then the ducks sit in pairs, the drake and the hen together. If you space them evenly over the entire surface, then it looks implausible and will alert the ducks. On a summer day, it is useful to arrange artificial ducks among the greenery, so as to hide their imperfections. When the deception is revealed, it will be all over for the ducks. After feeding, you can simulate rest by placing dummies on a long log. There are really many options. By practicing and observing the behavior of ducks, you will understand what works best in your case and we are sure that you will invent your own scenarios.
Keep the water open and cloudy.
In winter hunting, the surface of water without ice attracts ducks like a magnet. If necessary, make a hole and keep it free of ice. Plates of growing ice can be collected with a fish net. With something long, lift the mule from the bottom of the pond and splash its part to the surface. Try to scoop up pebbles, shells and mud from the bottom. For ducks, this will be a signal that there is a source of unfrozen water suitable for feeding and resting. It is better that the water is cloudy, not clear. Therefore, periodically, stir the sludge in the hole.
This article requires regular practice. Once learned, but not practiced for a long time, you risk losing skills. Everything matters: the number of notes for a certain age of the bird and the event, the pitch, the volume, the number of repetitions and the moment when you need to stop. There are quite a lot of free lessons on the Internet, but regular observation and communication with ducks cannot be replaced. Analyze the behavior of ducks, compare and record certain reactions to events. Try to reproduce at home. Over time, you will not only be a guru among hunters, but also easily give odds to ducks.
For duck hunting, optical sights, rangefinders, colored and IR lights are used. During the full moon, ducks come out to feed at night. We have noticed that ducks are more active on a warm, windy and bright night than on a cold and dark one.
Such conditions are ideal for the use of NV optics. For example, night vision binoculars will allow you to correctly assess the type and genus of a duck before deciding to shoot. Thus, we strictly follow the limits of the limit and exclude unnecessary fines.
In addition, NV binoculars correctly estimate the distance to the target, unlike a thermal imager. The latter is useful when looking for ducks, especially in adverse weather, but requires the use of a rangefinder. In addition, the thermal imager ignores small branches. When fired, we can hit a branch and change the trajectory of the bullet.
As a result of an unsuccessful shot, the ducks will run away. Silencers are very useful for stopping loud shots. This preserves your hearing and does not bring confusion to a flock of birds. Note that the use of IR optics and the HB sight takes hunting to a completely different level. Instead of guessing the location of the duck, its ID, we see it in the dark and can make an accurate shot.
The chances of winning a trophy skyrocket, but there is no need to forget about limits and safety. Nvgs allows you to see not only the target, but also hunting partners, dogs and random animals that may be in the line of fire. They keep your hands free and allow you to move around safely in the dark. We recommend keeping a diary of duck observations, looking for relationships between bird behavior and external parameters.
The system accumulated over several years will allow you to predict the behavior of birds and achieve the best hunting performance. By constantly practicing and gathering knowledge, you better understand nature and begin to truly appreciate the very essence of life.
By maintaining a reasonable balance in nature, we contribute to the prosperity of the entire ecosystem, including ourselves. Fresh air, positive emotions, physical activity and a welcoming company of friends is a gift in itself. And trophies are a nice bonus and a sign that you have learned the knowledge.