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Waterfowl Guide Mike Miller Explains How to Take Late Season Honkers and Quacks

Day 2: Guide Mike Miller – Fewer Decoys for Ducks and More Decoys for Geese

Editor’s Note: Mike Miller of Colorado is consumed with waterfowl hunting. He hunts and guides for both ducks and geese in eastern Colorado and western Nebraska. This week Miller will give Night Hawk’s readers the five secrets for taking late-season ducks and geese.

Click for Larger ViewClic for Larger ViewBefore you hunt for late-season ducks, you need to decide if you’ll use spinning-wing decoys, jerk-cord decoys or what you will do to put motion in your decoy spread. Next, you need to determine how-many decoys you need to take with you to effectively pull the ducks or geese to within gun range. The general rule for hunting late season ducks and geese is: generally less is best when considering the number of decoys to set out. However, in open water, putting out large decoy spreads definitely may give you an advantage. But when I’m hunting rivers and smaller bodies of water like the Arkansas River in the late season, I usually believe that one to two dozen decoys are more productive than having larger decoy spreads.

And, here’s where your scouting really pays-off. There are many ways to set-out decoys, however, I’ve found this tactic to be most effective. When you are scouting, study where the ducks like to land to know where to place your decoys. Also, remember how the ducks were clustered on the water. Were they sitting in pairs, were they sitting all in one group, or were they sitting in two or three different groups? The way you’ve seen the ducks sitting on the water when you’ve scouted is the way you want to set-up your decoys. You may want to put a small group of duck decoys a little bit farther upwind of your blind than the rest of your duck decoys.

Another mistake I often see late-season hunters make is they put their decoys too close to their blinds. You want to leave a hole in front of the blind for the ducks to drop into, especially if you are hunting moving water on a river system. You don’t want to put the decoys too close to your blind. If you do, then when the ducks come in, and they’re looking at the decoys, they’re also looking straight into your blind. When you are hunting small rivers, this can be a real problem. If those ducks start coming toward your decoys and spot your dog moving or see the white of your face just as you peek out from under your cap, they will flare and be gone. I have learned to put my decoys a little bit above or below my blind. Then when the ducks come in, they aren’t looking straight into your blind.

Loosen Up the Goose:

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewWhen goose hunting, I’ll set out from six to 15 dozen decoys. But instead of having all the decoys in one big wad, I’ll set the goose decoys up with more open space between them. Later in the season, you will see the geese in the field tend to light more in family flocks rather than in one big flock. So, in the late season, I’ll set out my decoys for geese in groups of 6, 12 or even 24. Not too far from each flock of decoys, I’ll set up another group of decoys. Once again, here is where scouting pays off. When you see geese coming into a field, notice where they land, watch how many geese land in the same spot, and how close together they land. This information tells you how to put your decoys out to make your goose decoys look more realistic in the late season. When you’re putting out geese decoys in the late season, I think more is better, because late-season geese seem to come in better to a large decoy spread than they do to a small decoy spread.

To get in touch with Miller, you can email him at or contact him on Facebook. Watch Miller’s YouTube videos: How to Use a Duck Call and
How to Tune a Duck Call.

To learn more about hunting and cooking all species, go to John’s Author Page for a list of his print books still available and his Kindle books.


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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.

Tomorrow: Mike Miller Explains When to and When Not to Call Late Season Ducks and Geese.

Check back each day this week for more about Waterfowl Guide Mike Miller Explains How to Take Late Season Honkers and Quacks"

Day 1: Guide Mike Miller Tells What You Need to Know Before You Go for Late Season Waterfowl
Day 2: Guide Mike Miller – Fewer Decoys for Ducks and More Decoys for Geese
Day 3: Mike Miller Explains When to and When Not to Call Late Season Ducks and Geese
Day 4: Watch the Weather When Hunting Late Season Waterfowl with Guide Mike Miller
Day 5: Guide Mike Miller - Waterfowl Don’t Carry Pocket Watches So Be Patient

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Entry 754, Day 2