Duck looking appears to be an all-or-nothing kind of pursuit. As somebody who typically depends on sweat fairness to out-compete different hunters on public land, chasing waterfowl appears to be the outlier. Duck hunters will actually do something to get themselves to the “X.” And, should you’re questioning, “They wouldn’t do that, would they?” Sure. They might.

In all honesty, this side of the game has stored my enthusiasm at bay. I can get up at a standard looking time, march into the woods, and hunt from my saddle for whitetails on public land, understanding that I can all the time discover some solitude and even just a few deer. However, in relation to duck looking, I do know {that a} chilly entrance goes to fill the parking tons with hunters the day earlier than and I’ll be battling my means via the gold rush to get to the place I must go. Typically I ponder if it’s definitely worth the effort.

However, as a substitute of throwing my duck calls and decoys within the trash, I’ve determined to hunt to a unique tune—a run-and-gun type. Whereas this isn’t a brand new technique by any means, it does appear to be going out of vogue nowadays, which occurs to be proper up my alley. Different hunters can go to battle for waterfowl with their $70,000 boats, 150-decoy spreads, and sleepless nights, and I’ll be out-maneuvering them on foot, fortunately capturing my strategy to a restrict one by one.

The Technique

So, what precisely does “run-and-gun” imply? The duck looking world appears to be in an arms race to build up probably the most gear attainable to attempt to outsmart their prey. As an alternative, I’ve determined that lightening the load has been one of the simplest ways to go. I favor to hunt small water, carry a small unfold of decoys, and canopy floor to seek out birds.

I’ll be the primary to confess that there’s a cause that boats, large decoy spreads, and heavy competitors are the secret nowadays. When it really works, it really works. However it’s additionally true that when it doesn’t work, it doesn’t. I’d enterprise to guess that going quick and light-weight implies that a fast restrict is uncommon, and even getting a restrict in any respect. However, I persistently come away with a bag of 4 to 5 birds as a result of it isn’t arduous to pivot when the skies are empty.

A Totally different Hen

As an alternative of scouting for the mass of birds, I spend extra time on onX on the lookout for small ponds, sloughs, or flooded backwaters that I feel will maintain birds, ideally these which can be miles away from common looking areas. If nothing exhibits up, I transfer. And sure, perhaps I’ll even ambush just a few birds alongside the best way.

The purpose is that geese love any water, not simply the large reservoirs and rivers that hunters search out. If there’s blue on the map, or an space that occurs to be blue after a heavy rain (my favourite), then there’s a strong probability you’ll be capable to monitor down some birds. One other technique is to hunt “site visitors” and attempt to catch birds as they transfer between feeding areas or towards their roosting areas. Take a look at these apparent looking areas and do your greatest to seek out water main away from these areas. It’s additionally a pleasant strategy to reap the benefits of a night hunt. However you’ll additionally must be in your toes as a result of these birds are in all probability going to be shifting quick and also will are typically a lot tougher to decoy, though it’s nonetheless completely attainable.

It’s only a matter of adjusting your perspective, which is a theme that’s going to pop up all through this text. Everybody needs 100+ birds to cup their wings and dive bomb into their unfold, however there’s one thing to be mentioned for scratching a restrict bird-by-bird over the course of a number of hours. It’s quite a lot of work, however it’s additionally the enjoyable type of work.

Lean and Imply Gear

Now, let’s discuss gear for a minute. As you might have guessed, it’s going to be fairly easy, however it’s positively price speaking about.

Transport: In the beginning, you’ll wish to take a cushty decoy bag. I favor a decoy backpack that enables me to cowl miles over any kind of terrain, however some hunters additionally like a decoy sled, significantly should you’re shifting throughout plenty of shallow water. Lastly, you should use a ship, canoe, or kayak to get throughout some bigger water and in the direction of extra out-of-reach, shallow choices.

Decoys: This one is hard to reply as a result of it completely depends upon the kind of water you’ll be looking. Because of the nature of this technique, it may appear to be any variety of locations, however I typically prefer to pack a combined bag of 6 to 18 floating decoys, together with one movement decoy. My desire is a pulsator-style decoy as a result of it creates movement among the many whole unfold, not like a spinner, which I discover tends to spook late-season birds.

Clothes: In contrast to another looking pursuits, high quality clothes is extraordinarily vital when utilizing a technique like this. You’re going to be overlaying miles in robust terrain whereas doing so in chilly and moist climate circumstances, so that you’ll wish to hike in lighter clothes and be capable to layer up as you discover your location. First Lite has a lot of nice choices to select from. A couple of of my favorites embody the LZ Jacket, Origin Hoody, Straightline Subject Vest, and the Tundra Chilly Climate Neck Gaiter. The brand new Cache sample is good for my atmosphere, however it completely depends upon the place you’ll be looking.

Lastly, I like my LaCrosse Boots for overlaying floor in moist circumstances, however typically waders are needed. And, whereas insulated waders are the warmest choice, they’re not all the time the precise alternative for climbing, so I are likely to favor uninsulated fishing waders (in earth tones) until I’m looking on extraordinarily chilly/moist/windy days.

Blind: The place I hunt, I favor nothing. Normally, I can discover pure blind supplies or simply tuck myself away within the timber as a substitute of lugging in a blind, however chances are you’ll discover a panel blind to be useful, significantly should you’re looking in open fields or sloughs. I additionally pack in a lightweight chair. First, I prefer to be snug, and second, being snug means you’ll be extra apt to take a seat longer and sit extra nonetheless, thus not flaring birds at your unfold.

New Waters

Greater than the nuts and bolts, I’d love so that you can take this away: Your enjoyment of a hunt is completely as much as you. I spent far too lengthy attempting to outcompete different hunters and be a part of the aforementioned “arms race” to place extra birds within the bag. It received to a degree the place I used to be burned out. As an alternative of quitting, I made a decision to reframe how I hunted for geese and what success actually meant to me. To be frank, a three-bird day is a superb day for me. Relying on the day, even a one-bird day is a hit. And sure, I’ve gotten limits as effectively.

No matter you do, be sure to’re looking in your phrases, not the phrases that different hunters have established for you. I’ve gotten feedback from different duck hunters who’ve mentioned, “You’ll get there,” or “I keep in mind doing that once I first began,” not realizing that I’ve been doing this for years and it’s how I select to hunt. It might not be flashy, however I’m completely satisfied taking the street much less traveled, one hen at a time.

Characteristic picture by way of Captured Artistic.

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