John's Journal...

Short-Stopping Ducks

A Weird Hunt

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Missouri has become one of the top duck states in the nation. Many waterfowl hunters wonder why so many ducks stop in Missouri and Illinois and not come further south. To learn the answer to this question, we went to Missouri and hunted with Avery Pro Staff Team member, Tony Vandemore of Kirksville, Missouri. We also wanted to know how Vandemore takes a limit of ducks almost every day of the season.

Question: Tony, what made the first day of our duck hunt so unusual?
Vandemore: We’d spent most of the morning scouting for ducks. To really take numbers of ducks, we had to be where the ducks wanted to be. Scouting’s the most-critical tool for a successful duck hunt. While we were driving around, we saw a really-good flock of ducks feeding in a field we had permission to hunt on the edge of a hedgerow. Finding any type of waterfowl feeding close to a hedgerow is unusual because a lot of ground predators liClick to enlargeve and hunt in the thick cover of the hedgerow. Also, ducks know that hunters sit in hedgerows and shoot at them. What made this hunt very unusual was the hedgerow was on the upwind side of the ducks. Ducks basically had to come in vertical through the trees in a 25-mile-an-hour wind to reach the spot where they wanted to feed. We noticed the ducks were landing within 5 yards of the woods. As the ducks approached the field, they had to drop in through the trees of the hedgerow to get on the ground where they found the corn. Another ingredient that made this hunt so unusual was as we drove our truck and trailer toward the place where we saw the ducks, the ducks would fly up off the ground when they’d spot the truck and then drop right back down in the same site and continue to feed. The ducks came off the ground and then went right back down to the ground about three times as we approached. Even when we parked our truck and traileClick to enlarger only 75 yards from where we planned to hunt, the ducks were still dropping in to the edge of that cornfield. That told me that the ducks wanted to feed in that area really bad ahead of that cold front. There were 50 to 75 ducks there when we pulled into the field, and even after we flushed the ducks, they began to come back to feed. Also new ducks came in to that spot while we were hunting.

Question: Why did the ducks pick that little place in that cornfield to feed?
Vandemore: The spot we hunted was a high-traffic area. A lot of ducks were moving ahead of the front, and even though that spot was on the upwind side of the hedgerow, the ducks could see that there was corn there and ducks were feeding there. When we set out our decoys, all the ducks traveling in the area could spot them. There was also open water on the downwind side of the hedgerow. If you look at the place where the ducks were coming into the field, there was a small open gap in the tree line that funneled the ducks, as if they were all flying through the neck of a bottle. Click to enlarge

Question: How did you set out your decoys, and why did you set out your spread the way you did?
Vandemore: I use Avery Greenhead full-body mallard decoys because they’re motion decoys, and any time you’re hunting ducks in a dry field, the more motion you can have in your decoy spread, the more realistic your spread looks, and the more ducks you’ll decoy into your spread. Also, in the spread, we used black duck decoys as well as mallard duck decoys. The black duck decoys are much easier to see from the air. The black color on the black duck decoys really causes those decoys to stick out in a cornfield, causing ducks to see the black duck decoys before they see the other mallard decoys. Although we don’t see or harvest many black ducks in Missouri, most other hunters don’t use black duck decoys in their spread. The main reason we set up black duck decoys is strictly to make our spread more visible to ducks traveling in the area.

To learn more about Avery Outdoors’ waterfowling products, go to

Tomorrow: Why Use the Train-Wreck-Type Decoy Spread

Check back each day this week for more about "Short-Stopping Ducks"

Day 1: Why So Many Ducks Stop in Missouri
Day 2: A Weird Hunt
Day 3: Why Use the Train-Wreck-Type Decoy Spread
Day 4: Why Only Greenheads
Day 5: How Weather Affects Ducks



Entry 384, Day 2