When and where are the best places to hunt for waterfowl? What kind of gear do you need to hunt for them? What are the tricks?
This is a precision sport. It requires skill, is challenging, and of course, there is the lure of the great outdoors. The term waterfowl, naturally, refers to birds found near water, such as ducks and geese. To hunt this type of game, one must spend considerable time crouched in fields and blinds (structures that hunters erect to hide them from their prey). These are normally located besides lakes, ponds, and marshes.
North American geese outnumber ducks in population. One reason is because geese migrate less, having adapted to their surroundings and staying in one spot all year long. The major difference between hunting ducks and geese is the season and the limits.
Where should you hunt for waterfowl?
In North America, there are four principle migration routes, so you are probably not more than a state or two away, no matter where you live. Unfortunately, the best duck hunting is usually on private land. So you'll need to stick to public land or pay a fee for private land. There are even limitations on the number of ducks you can shoot, with some species limited or restricted.
When should you hunt for waterfowl?
Hunting seasons usually vary by region, depending on how far south you live; but are generally between November and January. Local wildlife departments generally set the specific dates in August. Plan on starting your day at about 3AM so that you can be on location and ready by sunrise, since you can't take your first shot until sun-up. Sunset is also a good time for shooting as are rainy, overcast days.
What kind of gear should you use?
* A hunting license - a must! Some states even require proof of a hunting safety course.
* 12-gauge shotgun - the choice of most duck hunters. These actually fire hundreds of tiny pellets, which make them ideal for moving targets, but they don't shoot far. So, be aware of your range.
* Camouflage raingear and hip boots - Since the best duck hunting is always during the worst weather, plan on being cold and wet. So, bring along.
* A duck call - a very important and worthwhile investment, generally costing about 30 bucks.
* Decoys - you'll need these to lure ducks to your location. They are generally made of lightweight plastic.
* A good retriever dog - crucial! Labradors are the best, followed by golden retrievers.
When ducks are lured into your decoys, shoot as they are descending, but don't shoot at anything more than 40 yards away. For more information, contact your local wildlife and fisheries department or sporting goods store.