John's Journal...

Combo Hunt for Ducks and Whitetails and Other Animals

Simplify Your Duck-Hunting Routine

Click to enlargeIn the past couple of years, the numbers of ducks and duck hunters have increased tremendously. The various duck limits have made getting up before daylight and wading out into flooded timber or marshlands worth the effort. But you don’t have to make duck hunting a major ordeal by taking dogs,blinds and decoys with you.

Last year before first light, I heard the loud quacking of mallards, the high-pitched whistling wings of teal and the sharp squeals of wood ducks as the birds flew into and out of a flooded-timber pond off a Click to enlargemajor tributary on the Tombigbee River near the Alabama/Mississippi border.

Because of the large amount of acorns floating on the water, I realized first light would bring even more waterfowl pouring into the woodlot where I had deer hunted on the previous day. As I looked at my watch in the pre-dawn light, I waited until 5 minutes after legal shooting time to take my first shot. I wanted to have a 5-minute cushion to protect me, particularly if the game warden had a slow watch. About 80-yards out, I saw a flight of mallards coming into the swamp to feed. I could have shot the ducks as they closed the distance. But because I thought the mallards might drop into a little pocket not 20-yards away, I decided to wait.

The birds came down from the sky, cupping their wings and beating the air like helicopters aiming for an X in the circle of a landing pad. When the birds reached 6-feet above the water, I took the first greenhead. As another male frantically tried to shift gears from descending to ascending, my Bismuth shot also tumbled him. The third mallard in the group and the two Suzies escaped without harm, while dodging the high-flying shot. Click to enlarge
Then as the other ducks climbed off the pond, I downed a male woodie. But within only 10 minutes, ducks started to return to the opening, and I finished my limit. With the duck hunting over for the morning, I stored my waterfowling gear and went to my mid-morning tree stand with my .30-06 to wait on a white-tailed deer.

I always find sitting in a tree stand from before daylight until after dark for a day or two and not spotting deer about as boring as watching molasses pour out of a cold jar on a frosty morning. Even with lunch breaks, after a couple of days of non-Click to enlargeproductive deer hunting, I’m ready for the action and fun that duck hunting can provide. By combining an early-morning or a late-afternoon duck hunt with a deer, quail, squirrel, rabbit or pheasant hunt, you’ll have the rest of the day to hunt another species since a productive duck hunt may last less than an hour.

Use Little Gear for No-Hassle Duck Hunting:
I try to keep my waterfowling as simple as possible. I carry a daypack and put on a pair of old tennis shoes or wading shoes like fly fishermen wear in the bottom of my pack. I then place a spare pair of socks and pants in the event that my waders leak. On top of the pants, I’ll add a pair of lightweight, chest-high, stocking-feet waders, two boxes of Bismuth shot and a lightweight vest I can wear to hold the birds I take. I’ll also carry a headnet, gloves and greasepaint to camouflage my face and hands from the sharp eyes of the webfoots. If I plan to deer hunt too, I’ll take both my shotgun and my deer rifle with me. Then I won’t have to leave the woods after I’ve taken my limit of waterfowl. I’ll bring binoculars, a pull-up rope and other gear for deer hunting in the same daypack. When I arrive at the spot where I plan to duck hunt, I’ll take my pack off, don my waterfowling gear, prepare for a morning’s shoot and leave the pack and rifle on the bank.

Tomorrow: Stalk Hunting Ducks

Check back each day this week for more about "Combo Hunt for Ducks and Whitetails and Other Animals"

Day 1: Simplify Your Duck-Hunting Routine
Day 2: Stalk Hunting Ducks
Day 3: Hunt Ducks in the Afternoon
Day 4: Enjoy Midday Duck Hunting
Day 5: Take Bushytails and Webfoots


Entry 485, Day 1