DUCK HUNTING MADE EASY

Discussion in 'LUKE CLAYTON' started by Luke Clayton, Nov 6, 2008.

  1. Luke Clayton

    Luke Clayton New Member

    Messages:
    831
    State:
    Texas
    "DUCK HUNTING MADE EASY"
    by Luke Clayton

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    Luke Clayton


    Ever hear the old adage about duck hunters? How do you spot a duck hunter at a dinner party? He’s the one that’s half asleep! Granted, duck hunting does require getting up early and possibly loosing a few hours sleep but ask a veteran of the duck blind why he or she makes the sacrifices and they are usually quick to point out the fact that hunting ducks is one of the most interesting, challenging and down right fun endeavors in the outdoors. There’s something about the sound of whistling wings that, once experienced, keeps duck hunters coming back for more. I never harvest a mallard or gadwall that I don’t wonder where the bird has been and what’s it’s seen in it’s long migration route.

    I hunt ducks often and am fortunate to live close to some backwoods sloughs and ponds that annually attract a smorgasbord of ducks. I build several blinds from natural vegetation before the season opens in areas that have been productive in past years. Usually my blind locations work just fine but occasionally, I have to move them, sometimes as little as a couple hundred yards to set up in areas the ducks like.

    Years ago, I had an old duck hunter give me some very good advice” “Son, you can’t make a duck go somewhere he doesn’t want to go.” Forty years later, I now find myself the old duck hunter and I couldn’t agree with him more.

    Volumes have been written about decoy placement but I’ve come to believe the only real trick about setting a decoy spread is to leave an opening, usually within 30 yards of the blind, for ducks to set down. Wind direction will dictate the direction the birds approach the spread. Ducks and all birds take off and land into the wind. Many novice duck hunters never give this fact a second thought when choosing their blind location. Remember, you have the odds stacked in your favor. If the wind is blowing steadily out of the north, set your blind along a north bank so that you can easily see ducks coming into your spread.

    When hunting small waters, as I usually do, I never set more than a dozen or so decoys but I have great confidence in the motorized spinning wing decoys. I truly believe one of these spinning wing decoys takes the place of at least a dozen extra decoys. When there is little or no wind to keep the decoys bobbing and weaving on the water’s surface, I like to use a pull string on a couple of the decoys. Movement in a decoy spread is a big plus for attracting passing ducks. Ducks are almost never motionless on the water and still decoys spook more ducks than they attract. I’ve watched old timers toss pebbles into their decoy spread on a calm day. I’ve also hunted over battery powered ‘dipping’ decoys that mimic feeding ducks putting their head underwater. The more motion you can incorporate into your decoy spread, the more ducks you’ll shoot.

    Novice duck hunters often do way too much calling. While photographing ducks, I’ve set out in the blind with my camera and simply observed. Ducks are vocal birds, especially when deciding where to land and sometimes while feeding but their calls are often subtle. I’ve seen lots of ducks spooked by overzealous hunters calling too loudly and too much when ducks were working a spread. When ducks are leaving, a loud highball call is necessary but once ducks spot my decoys and begin circling, I usually remain quiet, sometimes giving a confidence “quack” for mallards or, if decoying pintail or widgeon, a soft whistle. I carry only two calls when duck hunting: a raspy mallard call and a pintail whistle that serves double duty for attracting widgeon. I’m certainly not a great duck caller but one doesn’t have to sound like a competitive duck calling champ to attract ducks. It is imperative to know when to call, what call to use and when to remain silent.

    Learning when to shoot is another important trick that comes with practice. Years ago, I took the shot when ducks were within 40 yards, regardless. Doing so, I missed many opportunities for close in shots at decoying ducks. Looking back, I had just as well been pass shooting. Decoy spreads are for getting ducks in CLOSE, not banging away at them when they make their first or second pass over the spread. Ducks will often make two or more passes over decoys they are eyeing. Each pass gets closer and closer to the spread/blind. Unless the birds appear to be spooked, I wait until they actually land in the spread. A good practice is to let the majority of the flock land, then shoot one of the last of the birds coming down. This practice often provides multiple shots at birds flushing from the water.

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    Photo by Luke Clayton


    GOOD EATING! Ducks, if properly cared for in the field are excellent eating. For many years, I removed the breast halves and marinated them overnight in a fifty-fifty mixture of Coke and soy sauce, then wrapped the breast halves in bacon and grilled or smoked them. This tried and true treatment of duck is pretty much fool proof. John Bryan, a good friend that is a duck hunting guide on the Brazos River, recently introduced me to a method of frying duck that is absolutely awesome! First, use a tenderizing mallet and pound the breast halves, just as you would venison round steak. Then season well with your favorite seasoning, place in a freezer bag and allow to marinate a few hours. Pour a little milk in the bag, dust the duck breast in flour and fry in hot oil. Served with a pan of cream gravy and hot biscuits, this is a great meal any time of the day.

    Listen to Outdoors With Luke Clayton at www.catfishradio.com

    We have a virtual library of Luke's stories here on the BOC; just about anything you could want to read about the outdoors. Click here to see a boat load of information!
     
  2. don3778

    don3778 New Member

    Messages:
    400
    State:
    Walkervill
    Luke,

    Thanks for another great article packed with great advice for old hunters as well as beginners.

    Too often I have read your articles and maybe just clicked on the "Thank You" button. I just wanted to personally say "Thanks" and keep up the good work.

    don3778
     

  3. fishnvince

    fishnvince New Member

    Messages:
    414
    State:
    na
    Thanks Luke for writing quality articals for us to enjoy. Keep em comming and thanks
     
  4. Luke Clayton

    Luke Clayton New Member

    Messages:
    831
    State:
    Texas
    I truly appreciate the kind words and... I'm glad that you are enjoying my articles. THANKS! Luke Clayton
     
  5. crappietime

    crappietime New Member

    Messages:
    126
    State:
    Murfreesboro Tennessee
    Enjoyed reading your article on duck hunting.I have had alot ask me why I took up duckhunting and all I can really say cause the father in law has done it many years and the son does it with him.So since they both enjoy it so thought I would help make it possible for them to keep going since the father in law is getting up in age.But then again got to look at the breakfast in all the blinds on the mornings of a cold rain or snow.Something about cooking and eating in the blind taste better than cooking it in the cabin and bringing it to the blind. But another good way to tell a duck hunter is look at his belly.We love to eat at gatherings and in the blind.My blind is about 300 yards from the ramp.I have traveled up a ditch through the timbers about 3 miles in cold rain to eat seafood gumbo made in a friends blind.
     
  6. Luke Clayton

    Luke Clayton New Member

    Messages:
    831
    State:
    Texas
    Yes, duck hunting does have it's rewards! I forgot to mention in this column that Hadels Game Calls, on their web site, has the sounds the different species make. We shoot lots of Gadwall around here and I just got one of their Gadwall calls, sounds just like a Gadwall with that quick, raspy quacking..Rod Hadel will be a guest on next weeks radio show and you can listen at www.catfishrado.com. Good hunting to you. Luke
     
  7. Bubstr

    Bubstr New Member

    Messages:
    18
    State:
    Illinois
    I enjoyed this, especially the part about not making ducks go where they don;t want to. I believe I heard this from my Uncle John, along with, "it isn't what you shoot, it's where you shoot", "Shoot them in the eye", "don't hunt with the wind in your face", "pick your hunting spot for what's behind you". The last meaning a way into flooded timber in early season and don't overlook the spring fed creek emptying into main pond in times of ice. Yes I'm a little long in the tooth too. First duck hunt 1954. Shot a 14lb Canadian with a Fox side by side and been hooked ever since.