Waterfowling: A Constantly Evolving Experience
It is hard to explain how a person develops a passion for certain outdoor activities. As most of us know, it does happen.
For some, fishing is the one thing that really turns them on. For many, deer hunting becomes a real addiction. The pheasant diehards think roosters are as good as it gets. For me, it is all about waterfowl hunting.
Over the past 50 years of hunting ducks and geese, I have learned some important lessons about chasing waterfowl. One of these lessons is to learn to adjust to what the birds are telling me about my spread and technique.
Most of my waterfowl efforts these days take place in a field. Although I do some water hunting for both ducks and geese, I have many more options for field hunting than I do for water.
Often times, when cuddled up in my layout blind, I find myself trying to attract traffic birds that are quite some distance away. This is not always an easy thing to do as lots of these traffic birds have a specific destination in mind.
When working waterfowl at a distance, it is all about movement. As a hunter, I have to do something that will get their attention and pique their curiosity from a long ways away.
Flagging has always been one of my favorite go-to techniques for getting the attention of distant birds. I have short flags and flags on 12 foot poles that reach high into the air.
I have also utilized spinning wing decoys from time to time with varied success. I learned early that geese rarely finish when the spinner is on so I rigged a hardline switch to turn it on and off from my blind.
Lately, I have discovered a new technique for attracting birds at a distance. It is a called a Bam Bam Stick and is made and marketed by Fowl Factory.
Essentially, it is a spinning wing decoy on a stick with a switch attached. The short pole gives me the advantage of being able to wave the spinner around and even mimic landing birds by laying it down. It has done wonders for attracting distant birds and bringing them in my direction.
The other factor in waterfowl hunting that I put at the essential stage is concealment. I have come to believe that many of my days of hunting failures are attributed to lack of proper concealment.
Hiding in an open field is not always that easy to do. I have learned that by using a great deal of Raffia grass or Killer Weed on my layout blinds, I can become a glob of vegetation and fool many birds. At other times, I have had to switch to layout boards and Ghillie suits. This can help.
Utilizing a part of the field that has a bit more crop residue can also make a difference. Recently, while hunting a chopped corn field, we were able to gather enough missed stalks to give our blinds a little more natural cover. It was extra work but it paid off.
Becoming a successful waterfowl hunter does not happen overnight. Continuing to be successful means a person has to constantly evaluate their program and tweak areas that need to be changed or improved upon.
Waterfowl hunting is a passion of mine, but it is also a constantly evolving learning experience.