John's Journal...

Where Ducks Hide with Outdoor Writer John E. Phillips

Day 5: Impacting Your Hunting Land’s Duck Potential and Types of Duck Hunting

Editor’s Note: If you’re tired of the competition and expenses involved when hunting on the big reservoirs and well-known duck marshes, here’s a surefire way to locate good duck hunting not too far from home by hunting smaller waters like potholes, beaver ponds and swamps.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewOnce you discover the possibilities in your region, contact the landowners to get permission to hunt. Sometimes you can get the landowner to participate in a program to improve the hunting, and if you own worthwhile duck hunting sites, it often pays to make the effort.

Gary Moody recommends that you request that your state department of conservation do a survey of the duck-hunting potential. “Most conservation departments are glad to help with this kind of survey,” he told me. “First they evaluate the site, and then they make recommendations on what needs to be done to improve the duck hunting. The biologists may suggest draining a pothole, planting Japanese millet to provide a food source and then flooding again. Or, they may see a need for nesting boxes for wood ducks.”

If there are few old trees available for nesting, build wood-duck boxes, and place them around your pond or slough. The specifications for these nesting boxes can be obtained from most state departments of conservation or your local library. Putting up these boxes ensures the presence of wood ducks for years to come, if a good food supply is readily available. And, providing a habitat that is attractive to the native wood ducks of the South will lure other ducks to your favorite pothole. As Dudley White says, “If you already have ducks at your hunting site, you won’t have to set-out decoys, because the ducks already there will act as live decoys and draw other birds down.”

Methods of Hunting Small Places:

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewThere are several methods of hunting these small sites. One of the least productive seems to be jump shooting. Some hunters slip in to a pothole or small swamp and try to shoot as many ducks as they can when the ducks flush. Then they wait a few minutes, which usually allows some ducks to try to return. I prefer predawn hunting for pothole ducks. By waiting for the first light of legal shooting time, you usually see many more ducks than the jump shooter does and may have flock after flock coming to the same place to feed. Usually, wood ducks end their roosting 15 minutes after sunrise, but the mallard is more of a daytime bird. Another advantage to shooting early-morning ducks is that they aren’t nearly as hard to find and retrieve when the shoot’s over as they are later in the day.

A gunner will have waterfowl targets that are coming in to feed or to roost when he shoots late in the afternoon just before dark. Wood ducks go to roost during the last 50 minutes or so before sunset. Sometimes there may be only 5 to 15 minutes of shooting time in the evening. After the ducks are down, finding them can be a real problem. Often, you need a flashlight.

This kind of hunting may not be as glamorous as using decoys, building blinds or sitting in the predawn stillness with your retriever at your side while watching Vs of waterfowl pass in the distance, but it can be very productive. The ducks come in like bolts of lightning from all directions, and you may not see them until they’re right on top of you. This kind of duck hunting is exciting and calls for expert wing shooting, too.

AmazonTo get John E. and Denise Phillips’ Kindle eBook, “The Best Wild Game & Seafood Cookbook Ever: 350 Southern Recipes for Deer, Turkey, Fish, Seafood Small Game and Birds,” click here. Or, go to, type in the names of the books, and download them to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.





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About the Author

John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.

Check back each day this week for more about Where Ducks Hide with Outdoor Writer John E. Phillips"

Day 1: Hunting Ducks on Small Bodies of Water
Day 2: Knowing Ducks: What They Do and Why, and Where to Locate Them
Day 3: Knowing the Best Shooting Times to Take Ducks
Day 4: Using Aerial Maps and Topo Maps to Locate Duck Hot Spots
Day 5: Impacting Your Hunting Land’s Duck Potential and Types of Duck Hunting

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Entry 747, Day 5