From the U.S. Coast Guard's
"Waterfowl Hunting Tips from Wade Bourne."
Go Where the Birds Are
and geese change locations frequently as food and water conditions vary. Savvy
hunters scout continuously to find areas of high bird concentration, and they
maintain a mobile capacity for setting up where prospects for success are best.
Add "Life" to Your Decoy Spread
more realistic the decoy spread, the more effective it will be at attracting
ducks and geese. Hunters should keep
decoys freshly-painted and mud-free.
They should also attempt to add movement by using jerk strings,
wobblers, spinners, etc. Live birds on
the water typically move about and create ripples on the water’s surface. Decoys should do likewise.
Load Your Boat Properly
Decoys and other supplies can be heavy. Make sure the total weight of hunters and
gear does not exceed the limit posted on your boat’s capacity plate. Patches of rough water, or even an excited
retriever, can swamp an overloaded boat and lead to fatal accidents.
Tailor Calling Method to the Mood of the Birds
Some days ducks and geese respond better to loud,
aggressive calling. Other days they
prefer quiet, subtle calling –or no calling at all! Experiment with different calls and calling
styles to see which works best on each given day.
Wear a Face Mask on Sunny Days
Bright sunshine reflects off human skin like a
mirror. This is why hunters looking out
of a blind or pit can flare ducks and geese working overhead. To keep this from happening, wear a
camouflage face mask and keep your cap bill pulled low to shadow your eyes.
Wear a life Jacket or Float Coat
Wear –don’t just carry –U. S. Coast Guard –approved life
jackets any time you’re in your boat.
Accidents happen too fat to reach for stowed life jackets. There are many options available for hunters,
including camo inflatables, belt packs, and float coats that look just like a
parka, but will keep your head out of the water if you go in.
Muddy the Water in Shallow Hunting Spots
When waterfowl are feeding in shallow marshes and flooded
fields, they muddy the water by pulling up grass and roots and grubbing for
grain. This is why hunters should muddy
the water by wading or driving an ATV (where practical) through their decoy
spread. Decoys floating on clear water
look unnatural –hence suspicious – to birds flying overhead. Muddy water appears natural and inviting.
Take a Survival Kit
Always go hunting with a survival kit. In a compact waterproof pouch, keep
fire-starting materials, a VHF radio, flares, a flashlight, a space blanket and
first-aid supplies. If you’re stranded
in a remote location, these items will provide warmth and a crude shelter to
keep you alive until you can be rescued or get yourself to safety.
Take one Bird at a Time
When it’s time to shoot, make a habit of focusing on one
bird and staying on it until it drops.
When a large number of ducks or geese decoys, too many hunters simply
shoot into the flock at large. The
normal result is a poor shooting percentage and a smaller bag. Instead, concentrate on taking one bird at a
Tell Somebody Where You’re Going and When You’ll Be Back
Take an extra minute to make sure a responsible party
knows your plans. If you’re lost or
injured, someone will notice you’re missing and have an idea of where to send
help. Boaters call this a “float plan,”
and it’s a good idea for people who consider their activity primarily hunting,
to get into this practice, too.
Never boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and
have your boat inspected at least once a year, for the required