The 101 on How to Begin Duck Hunting.
Hunting ducks has been around since ancient times, however back then they used traps and the reason for hunting was generally for food or to make a living. Nowadays, we use shotguns or rifles and while a good roasted duck is always a treat, most hunters hunt ducks for sport. Having said that, just know that duck hunting is very regulated and you cannot just pop down to the nearest lake and simply start popping them down. Oh no! Check out your areas typical seasons as well as the rules around duck hunting, before you start.
Now, if you have decided you would like to get into duck hunting, you are probably overwhelmed by the amount of gear you will need. But, like most other hunting pastimes, it is commonplace to equip one selves properly before going out on an off the cuff hunt.
So, where do you begin?
Let us take you on a little journey of discovery on how to begin duck hunting.
Its all good and well having all the right gear, which we will get into shortly, but if you don’t know where to go duck hunting, then you are just … well, a sitting duck.
Knowing where you are firstly allowed to duck hunt is important, as all states have specific areas for this and also have strict regulations on when and how many ducks you can hunt. Contact your local municipality and they will be able to point you in the right direction.
A small word, but it, in fact, encompasses a large variety of options. To begin, we will take a look at the type of shotgun you should be considering.
- Shotguns and Rifles
There are plenty of options to choose from, but we suggest you look at anything from a ten gauge to a twenty-gauge shotgun. The most commonly used shotgun would be either a ten gauge or a twelve gauge with a 3 inch steel magnum shell. Note that lead shells are not allowed in any state, so just stay clear of these.
In addition, practice your shooting and aim to reaching a duck that is about 20 to 30 yards away, as opposed to a duck that is much further. While most shotguns can reach further, your chances of making an accurate hit closer are greater. The cost of ammunition and the cost of your wasted time by trying for a Skybust, as it is commonly known, is just too high to bother with. A little patience goes a long way when duck hunting.
Duck decoys are basically life-like looking ducks made from a molded plastic. They are placed strategically to fool the other, real ducks into landing nearby. Placing a few realistic looking duck decoys in a water filled area is always a good idea. You can even go a step further by positioning them into a U shape with enough space for the ducks to fly in and land.
Duck callers are a reed instrument, generally made out of wood, polycarbonate material, or acrylic. For beginners, you should educate yourself on the types of duck calls there are and begin practicing them before you go out on your hunt. You will hear, if you take the time to just listen to ducks call, that they issue their sounds in short, sharp bursts. Avoid a long duck call, as this is not natural.
The double reed duck callers are best for beginners as they are more controllable, however they are quieter and do require a lot more breath.
As for the type of material of the duck caller, wood is best as it gives off a more natural sound, and they are cheaper than the other types. However, as a beginner, try an acrylic duck caller first. They are higher pitched but this sometimes works better, when there are windy conditions. Wooden duck callers are a little more difficult to use and require loads of practice.
There are a few different calls, namely the mating call, the “come for supper” call, and the standard quack. Knowing them is one thing, but knowing when to use them is another. You need to know the season for mating and in turn the habits of the local duck, i.e.what time of the day do they feed. It is no use calling them to come eat when the time of the day you are calling is outside of their norm. The same goes for the mating call.
3. Buddy Hunting
The best way to learn is to go with an experienced duck hunter. Duck hunting has been passed down from generation to generation, and most times the duck hunting gear along with it. Fathers would take their sons out duck hunting as a Sunday pastime and many a secret tip was learnt on these excursions. If you can find a duck hunter willing to impart their family’s history on to you, then that will be a real bonus.
Most times, nowadays, the younger generation are not interested in hunting, so if you are really keen, finding a father or even grandfather that doesn’t have someone to pass his knowledge down to can be the best thing for your new sport.
The other advantage of hunting with a friend is that they will be able to warn you if there is any danger nearby or they can inform you of the proper protocol to adhere to during the hunt. Because it is a sport that comes from many many years ago, you will find that, like with most sports, there is a certain way of doing things.
Safety comes first, so learn how to first protect yourself, then your fellow hunters, then the other animals in the vicinity.
Lastly, going hunting with a pro will give you the chance to see all the gear that you need and in addition, what you do not need. There are many options on the market and most are very unnecessary. A hunter that knows his stuff will give you the low down and help you save money in the long run.
So, now that you have the 101 on how to begin duck hunting, we wish you all the luck for your first duck hunting experience.