Choosing the Best Duck Hunting Location

Picture of Best Duck Hunting LocationThere are some places in this country which are rife with ducks. The second duck season rolls around, hunters head out there in droves to snag a few. It does not take a genius to know what these locations are. You will easily be able to find plenty of information about them online. Of course, this also means that the hunting location is going to be packed to the brim with shooters. This has an impact on the quality of your hunt. There may be fewer ducks. There may be more suspicious ducks. Basically, you will shoot less. You do not want this to happen. This is why it is so important that you learn how to find a duck hunting location on your own. The tips on this page will help you out.

How Many Spots Should You Have Lined Up?

As many as possible! One mistake that many duck hunters make is that they only have one or two locations that they know of. When one place is suffering from a lack of opportunities, they head to the other one. They just keep flicking between the two. This is not ideal. In our opinion, you should know about dozens of places. The more you have in one area, the better. This way you will always have a contingency plan in place should something go wrong.

Picture of Flock of Ducks

Long Term Planning

Of course, to have hundreds of locations in the pipeline, you are going to need to do your research in advance. In fact, in the off-season, you should be doing a lot of research. Dedicate yourself to it. Your best bet is to start thinking about where ducks frequent. Obviously, there will be those main hunting areas that we mentioned previously e.g. the ones that you find online. However, we urge you to think beyond this. Think about the following (make sure this is public land):

  • Wildlife refuges
  • Reservoirs
  • Rivers
  • Waterfowl management areas
  • National forests
  • Military reservations

You may even want to make a few phone calls to some waterfowl biologists. They will be able to tell you where ducks tend to frequent the most. Yes, they probably are going to highlight some of the most common shooting opportunities to you, but they may also highlight places which you would have otherwise have over looked.

The best shooting locations tend to be those which are hard to access. Most hunters out there want to be able to knock out a few shots without too much hassle. They may net themselves a few birds, which is fun for them, but never enough. There is too much competition. The places which are a little bit out of the way tend to be better as people find it harder to access them.

Rivers

When rivers are flooding or when there is a freeze, ducks tend to head towards rivers. Try to find a location which has a lot of brush. They love these more secluded spots and you should end up with a fair number of ducks should you hunt in these locations.

Reservoirs

When the shallows start to lock up (i.e. your reservoirs), then the ducks are going to head to the larger bodies of water. In this case, you are going to want to head to a reservoir. This is where ducks are going to start to frequent. You should be able to nail a few in the area like this!

Picture of Duck Hunting BoatGet a Map

If you have identified a few hunting locations, then we recommend that you get hold of a topographic map of the area. This will give you a few details about the location. It will highlight the best places to shoot from. It will also provide you with a few decent access points to that area. An experienced duck hunter will always have a wealth of different maps at their disposal. It makes their life a lot easier. Check out this site for more info.

Choose a Location Your Equipment Can Handle

Make sure that you choose an area that your equipment can handle. We are mainly talking about your boat here. For example; if you are in big water, then you need a large, deep boat. If you are travelling on rivers or lakes, you are probably going to need to cover a lot of distance. This means that you will need to have a boat with an outboard that has enough power and speed for you to be able to cope. It is common for the duck hunter to need to travel for miles before they find anywhere to shoot from. Of course, also be sure to bring along the best duck calls in your arsenal.

Fly Over the Area

Picture of Duck on a PlaneOk. This is going to be a bit more expensive. However, if you can afford it, in the off-season you may want to hire a pilot and a plane to show you the area from the sky. You will want to be on the lookout for the following:

  • Green timber openings
  • Potholes
  • Sloughs

Do not take the information that you get on your flight as gospel. You will still want to search the area ‘on foot’, but being able to see everything from the air is a great way to narrow down your options.

Short-Term Scouting

As you get closer to your hunt, there are a few things which will impact whether a location will be good to hunt in or not. Generally speaking, most of this is going to come down to whether the duck has access to enough food. The following will limit the food available to a duck:

  • The water level drops
  • The water starts to freeze

If you are seeing that water is rising in an area, then this is great. The ducks are going to come and feast. If the water is rising, then you will want to head upstream. If the water is falling, then head downstream. This is how you will be able to locate most of the birds.

Picture of Crowded Duck Hunting LandAvoid Populated Areas

Finally, avoid areas which are rife with duck hunters. This is probably one of the quickest ways in which a duck will abandon somewhere.

Choosing a location for your hunt is one of the most important factors in whether you’re successful or not. Take time to do your research so that you can make an educated decision. Be sure to take a look at our blog post on the six most important tips for a successful duck hunt.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to leave us a comment if you like.

Six Tips For A Successful Duck Hunt

As soon as duck season rolls around, we have no doubt that you want to head out there and start getting some shots off. Before you do, however, there is a little bit of preparation that you will need to do. It is not much, but it can mean the difference between a successful duck hunt and a bit of a bust.

Planning Your Hunt

Picture of Duck Hunting Dog 2You will be surprised at how many people will refuse to plan their duck hunts. They just want to get out there and shoot. However, if you want to be successful, then just like everything else in your life you are going to need to have a plan in place. Without a plan, you are just relying on luck. Thankfully, planning your duck hunt is not going to be all that difficult!

Firstly, in the days leading up to the duck hunt, you are going to want to start monitoring the weather. The weather will play a key role in the blind and the decoy that you will be using. Of course, if the weather is none too decent, you probably will not want to be out there anyway. Basically, the weather is going to dictate the gear that you are going to be bringing along.

If you can make it to the area, then scout around before your planned hunt. Ducks are very predictable animals. This means that they tend to land in the same locations repeatedly. Get a feel for where they are landing. This will give you your prime hunting area. If you can’t make it to the location, then look up details online. If the area is a prime hunting area, then you will likely find that plenty of people have discussed it before.

Choose Your Equipment Wisely

The success of your duck hunt is going to hinge on your equipment. Now, in most places in the United States, you are going to get one chance to go out and hunt each year. Well, a couple of chances, but the seasons are short. This means that you are going to have a lot of equipment sitting around and doing nothing for the better part of the year. A few weeks before you head out, we recommend that you check all your duck hunting gear is in working condition. If anything is broken or looks like it will give up the ghost shortly, then replace it.

If you are planning to bring new equipment along, then make sure you know how to use it before you head out. It is going to make your life a lot easier. We are not sure the ducks would appreciate random swearing coming from you when you realize you have no idea how your best duck call works!

While we are on the subject of equipment, before you leave, it is important that you check whether there are any shiny spots on it, particularly your weapon. Even the smallest amount of glare can scare the animals off. Obviously, this is the last thing that you want to happen. A small amount of paint will be able to eliminate most shine.

Pattern Your Gun Before You Leave

It is important that you pattern your shotgun before you leave. Basically, the ammunition that you are using needs to match your choke and your gun. There are so many people who do not do this. If you are using the wrong ammunition, then you are just not going to hit anything. The only thing you are going to end up doing is scaring the ducks.

There are ways to camo paint your shotgun using stuff sitting around the house, without spending a dime… case in point:

Picture of Homemade Gun Camo Setup

Duck Calls. Duh.

Some people are abysmal at duck calls. Thankfully, for those people, we have put together a few guides which we seriously urge you to check out. If you want to reel some ducks in, then you need to master the art of the call. Teaching you how to call is going to be out of the scope of this guide. However, we do want to mention that you must not overcall. It can be tempting. After all, why would a duck not want to hear tons of other ducks? It means safety, right? Well, as we mentioned before, ducks tend to be very smart animals. To them it does not mean safety. To them, they become suspicious. After you learn about the different types of calls, check out our list of the best duck calls for the money.

Train Your Dog

In the off-season, we recommend that you try and keep your dog sharp. A few exercises in the lead-up to the duck hunt certainly would not go amiss. It just gets them in shape and ensures that they still know what they are doing.

And While You’re Out There…

Do you know the hallmark of a good duck hunter? It is the ability to change something on a whim. If you are stuck in your ways and you are not hitting anything, then you are never going to hit anything. As simple as that. Ducks are not stupid. They know what you are doing. If ducks are not landing or they are circling before disappearing, then you need to change your set-up. There is plenty that you may need to do here. This includes:

  • Resetting your decoys
  • Moving your blinds
  • In many cases, you may need to camouflage yourself a little bit better.

You must remember that animals are very cautious. If they get even the slightest inkling that something is wrong, then they are just not going to avoid landing. You need to make the place seem as safe as possible.

Picture of Duck Blinds

There is more to a successful duck hunt than the information that has been listed on this page. However, all this information is going to help you get off to a good start. Make sure that you put it to good use – if you do, you will up the amount of ducks that you are going to be able to nail. Of course, when you do this, you are going to end up having a ton of fun at the same time too! Plan, plan, and then plan some more. It may sound boring, but it is worth it. 

How To Improve Your Duck Calling

Funny Cartoon of Duck HunterLet’s face it – you’re not the #1 best duck caller in the world. Don’t worry – most people don’t have a clue what they’re doing. However, you are sensible. You have landed on this page. This means that you at least recognize that you have more to learn and want to do something to improve yourself. We have a few tips that will set you on the path towards success.

Learn the Various Calls

This is not so much a tip for improving your duck calls, but it is a good place to start. One of the biggest issues people have is not knowing what the various duck calls are. We recommend that you check out our article on the 8 types of duck calls every hunter should master. We also suggest that you watch a few YouTube videos. You will not find all the information from this, but it certainly will help you get on the right track.

Quack

This is the best duck call that you can use. 9/10, this is all that you really need to draw a flock of ducks in. Many people overlook the good old ‘quack’ because it is simple. However, simple is always the route to go down.

One word of warning here, however. If you are going to quack, make sure you do not go overboard. A simple quack is often used my ducks as a bit of a warning. For example, if a duck manages to get separated. It draws people into its location with a quack. We recommend that you just let out a short, sharp quack every now and then. Do not repeat yourself. This will cause those smart birds to disappear.

Picture of Duck in SunlightBuy the Right Call

It is important that you buy the right call. To be honest, this is very much going to be a trial and error process. Just because something is expensive does not necessarily mean that it is going to be right for your mouth. You may find that something a lot cheaper or older is going to help you to get a better call out there.

Most people fail with their duck calls simply because they are using the wrong equipment. It may take you a while to find something that works for you, but trust us, it is going to be 100% worth putting all that effort in. For a great resource on the right duck call for you, check out our reviews of the best duck calls.

Ducks Are Key

You know what the worst thing you can do when you are learning how to duck call? It is getting your information from hunters. If there is one animal that knows ducks better than humans, it is ducks. Our suggestion is to listen to ducks. Find out how they interact with one another. You are trying to mimic their sounds.

We recommend that you find an area where ducks frequent, without the intention of hunting them, and just record the sounds that they are making. You are then going to find it a lot easier to mimic their sounds.

While you can listen to experienced duck callers on YouTube and similar sites, we do not recommend going down that route while you are still trying to understand the basics. Many of their calls are going to be needlessly complicated. This means that you are going to feel overwhelmed. You are never going to be able to mimic the sounds that they make. You will try. You will fail. The ducks will laugh (well, if ducks could laugh, at least)

Picture of Man Reading By StreamLearn When To Make The Right Calls

A common mistake among new duck hunters is making the wrong calls at the wrong times. Here a few tips that you can use:

  • Hail or greeting calls are best reserved for when a duck appears to be leaving the area.
  • If a duck is landing in the area, then make sure that you stay quiet. There is no need to do anything, they are landing anyway. At the very most, you should be using a single quack here and there, maybe a feed call. If you go overboard, then there is a good chance that you are going to end up scaring the duck away. This is probably not something that you want to happen.
  • If the birds are not landing and they just appear to be circling the area, then you can use a hail call. This is something that most experienced duck callers do. You do not need to make too many sounds. Once you notice that the ducks are starting to land, or at least turn around and consider the possibility of landing, then you can tone back the hail calls.

Learn What The Various Sounds Mean

It is important that you learn what each duck call means. It is going to make it easier for you to choose the right one for the situation. For example; you should not really be using a feed call if the area that you are hunting in is not going to be prime location for feeding. This is why observing ducks is so important. You get a feel for the way in which they behave in each situation. This means that you are going to be able to tailor how you call to suit them. Check out our recent blog post on the different types of duck calls here.

Picture of Man Aiming At Ducks in SkyImprove Your Call Cadence

Ducks have different tones. Ducks have different pitches. However, if you observe them, they will always have the same cadence. It is important that you learn how to match this. You need to get the same rhythm. Your best bet here is to listen to recordings online, or even make your own. If you are not able to match the cadence of the duck perfectly, then you are not going to be able to nail a single one of them.

Be Aggressive (Sometimes)

Finally, it is fine to be aggressive with your call sometimes. For example, if you see ducks landing but not coming close to your decoys, then give them an aggressive call. Chances are that they will bounce right back up and get a bit closer to where your decoy is planted. This will allow you to get your shot off.

Whether you hunt for fun or for work, our team certainly hopes this article provided some useful advice on taking the next step forward in your duck hunting. We love hearing from our readers, so please leave us a message in the comment section below.

8 Duck Calls Every Duck Hunter Should Master

Picture of Ducks FlyingIf you want to go duck hunting, then you are going to need to master the art of the call. It does not matter what you do while you are out on that hunt, if you do not know how to call properly, then you are going to be able to nail the bare minimum number of birds. In facts, chances are you will not be able to net yourself a single bird. On this page, we are going to talk about duck calls that every hunter should master. Eight of them. Before that, though, we just want to share a few tips which should make your life a little bit easier when it comes to calling.

Top Tips for Successful Duck Calling

We have put together more extensive guides elsewhere on this website about duck calling. We suggest that you check them out. The main purpose of this section is just to give you a brief overview of a few of the things that you need to think about:

  • Make sure that you choose the right call! There are plenty of them on the market. What may be right for one person may not necessarily be right for somebody else. It is important that you choose a call that works for your mouth. Finding the right one is going to be very much ‘trial and error’. It is worth the effort, though. Remember; just because a call is expensive, it does not necessarily mean that it is going to be good.
  • Practice your duck calls in advance. We recommend watching YouTube videos and trying to mimic the style. You will not get it exact, particularly since many of the YouTube videos have been put together by experienced duck callers, but you should be able to get close. You will then be able to build upon your knowledge.
  • It is important that you choose the right duck call for each situation. As you go through this list of eight duck calls, you will get a feel for what works and when.
  • Record some ducks. They are the best teachers. One thing that many hunters fail to get right is the rhythm of the call. Only by listening to the way in which ducks communicate with one another will you be able to get that right.

So, without further ado, let’s jump into the duck calls that you really need to master if you want to become a successful hunter.

Picture of Duck Coming in to Land

Basic Quack

This is the simplest of all duck calls, but it is one that many people out there never even attempt to master. If you can learn the quack, then you will have ducks flocking to you in most cases. This is because it is a very versatile call.

In many cases, a single quack is enough to get some birds to land near you, if they have been circling. You can use multiple quacks in a row, but we have a word of warning. Well, a couple of words. If you are going to use multiple quacks, then you need to make sure that you change up the tone of it. If you use the same tone repeatedly, then you are really communicating danger. No bird in their right mind is going to land.

Greeting Call

If you see ducks flying at a distance, then you will be able to lure them in with a greeting call. This is just 5 notes (or up to 7), said at a steady rhythm. You change the tone as you go through. You want the tone to get slightly lower with each ‘sound’ you make. This sound should be ‘kanc’. This is a great method for luring those ducks in who may be a bit suspicious of a location.

Feed CallPicture of Ducks Feeding

Only use this call if the area you are hunting in is one that the ducks can feed in. Remember; ducks tend to feed in deeper waters, so if you are in shallow water, the ducks are going to think “what is going on here?” and just not bother to come in.

The sound is “tikkitukkatikka”. The volume needs to change throughout. Many experienced duck callers are not a massive fan of the feed call as it is very situational. However, you may find that it works for you, so check it out if nothing else seems to be working.

Hail Call

If the ducks are close by, never use this one. The ducks should be at least 100 yards away. Your best bet is to keep an eye out for when the ducks are just about to hit the water. Then you let out the call. It pulls them in. This is not something that is going to work if the ducks already seem to be descending upon your location.

Comeback Call

This call is going to just call the ducks back. Nothing drastic. This is something hens do when they see ducks fly over their location. They just lure them back with the comeback call. It is about 7 notes, fast and hard. Basically, this call has a sense of urgency to it.

Lonesome HenPicture of Male and Female Duck

This is similar to the standard quack. The main difference is that the quacks are going to be spaced out. At least a few seconds between each of the quacks. This gives the illusion that there is a lost duck in the area. It is important to note that an overuse of this quack has the potential to scare the ducks, so do not do that!

Pleading Call

This is for ducks who are flying above you at a large distance. Again, you are going to be using your quacks. They are dragged out quacks. This is what you are going to want to use if the ducks are not landing and nothing else seems to be working.

Whistling Call

How you whistle will be dependent on the duck. You do not even need to use a call here, just a whistle. There is little chance that something can go wrong. There are different whistles for each type of duck. So, if you are mainly hunting mallards, then get a mallard whistle.

So there you have it – those are the eight duck calls every duck hunter’s gotta know to be successful out in the field. Let us know in the comments if we missed anything!

The Best Duck Calls 2017 - Reviewed By Experts!