John's Journal...

Secrets of the Duck-Hunting Pros

Billy Blakely

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Every day of duck season professional duck guides have to produce ducks for their clients because hunters who have paid their money expect to have ducks in the decoys to take.  We’ve interviewed guides from several points of the United States and Canada to learn their secrets. Today, Billy Blakely of Tiptonville, Tennessee, will tell us his duck-hunting secrets. Blakely has guided duck hunters at Blue Bank Resort on Reelfoot Lake for 23 years and hunts 40 to 50 days of each duck season.

Don’t Overcall: Click to enlarge
Blakely names not overcalling as one of the secrets to his duck-hunting success. “Many duck hunters want to keep calling to the ducks until they squeeze their triggers,” Blakely explains. “However, the only time I’ll blow a hail call is when the ducks are going away from me. When the ducks are coming to you, all you need to give is soft chatters and light quacks. One of the hardest things for a duck hunter to do is not call. However, if you’re hunting high-pressured ducks, often the less you call, the more ducks you’ll take.”

Brush Your Blind to Look Authentic: Click to enlarge
“Make sure your blind looks like its surroundings,” Blakely mentions. “If you’re hunting in a hardwood timber spot, don’t brush your blind with cattails or cane. Cane, which turns yellow after it dies, appears to be a  yellow caution light and will spook ducks overhead.  Also, don’t forget to hide your shooting holes to keep the ducks from looking straight down into your blind. Most hunters don’t want to come up through brush to shoot, but the better you brush your shooting holes, the less likely the ducks are to spot you.”

Keep Quiet, and Wear Your Hollywoods: Click to enlarge
Let’s face it, we all enjoy duck hunting because we can talk to our buddies and have a good time. But Blakely emphasizes that, “Being quiet in the blind is a very-important secret to your success. If you’re talking, you’re not searching or listening for ducks. The person who will do the calling generally has his head out of the blind as he searches for ducks. If someone talks to him, the caller will look down at the hunter and not listen or look for ducks. Particularly in foggy weather, no one needs to talk in the blind, because the ducks may come in close before you shoot. If the ducks hear you talking, they’ll spook.  Too, on foggy or still mornings, ducks seem to be able to hear hunters more easily. The guides here have learned through the years that they can see and take more ducks if they wear polarized sunglasses to knock the glare off the water. If the ducks are coming from the east where the sun is rising, those ducks can be really hard to see without sunglasses.”

For hunt will Billy Blakely, call Blue Bank Resort at (877) 258-3226 or (731) 253-8976, or visit

Tomorrow: Barnie Calef

Check back each day this week for more about "Secrets of the Duck-Hunting Pros"

Day 1: Jeff Poe of Lake Charles, Louisiana
Day 2: Billy Blakely
Day 3: Barnie Calef
Day 4: Chad Belding and Bob “Rip” Clark
Day 5: Snake River Secrets with Thayne Barrie


Entry 488, Day 2