Hunting: Duck Addict Edition

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As you might have seen earlier today, my first ever morning of duck hunting was a rousing success. Expect a full review of the Benelli Super Black Eagle II that I shot this morning, but rest easy, it’s a duck killing machine. And uhhh gosh is this fun…

If our comments section is any indication, we’ve got a couple of duck hunters in the house. And for you experienced bird hunters, feel free to skip the next few paragraphs. For those who have never been coastal duck hunting before, here’s a run down on how our morning went.

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As in all good hunting trips, you have to get up early. Not four hours before sunrise early, but still pretty early. The next step is to get out to where you’ll do your hunting so you can set up your decoys. This requires a boat. Or at a minimum, a friend with a boat which was our method today. The water out here in the mangrove swamps and oyster beds is super shallow. We’re talking a foot to two and a half, tops. So preferably, find a guy with a flat-bottomed boat made for this type of thing. Once you have your spot, unload your gear, and stow the boat off to the side.

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The next step is to unload and place all of your decoys. In our case, we used three dozen or so floating decoys with lead anchors attached. We positioned them in two groups with about 10 yards between them to create a landing strip, if you will. Next to the landing strip, a MOJO mallard decoy is set to simulate the landing process to further entice our flying friends. Then, the waiting begins.

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Like dove hunting, duck hunting is a very social activity. You take a couple buddies, set up all your gear, and then sit in some chairs and wait for the birds. Unlike dove hunting though, you can usually see ducks coming in from a distance so you can get yourself settled and watch them fly over or approach for a landing. My hunting buddy Will brought some calls, but used them only to shift a flock’s attention back our way. As you can see in the opening picture, some of the flocks that did high altitude passes were massive.

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Once a low flock of ducks (usually four or so) start to circle, you sit very still so as not to alarm them. Once they’ve made the decision to land on the aforementioned runway, they’ll start to backflap to slow themselves and this presents a great opportunity to shoot as they’re relatively somewhat stationary at the time. That said, the three that I shot this morning were both overhead shots which resulted in some pretty spectacular splashes when they hit the water. My take this morning was a Pintail hen, and a Redhead drake and hen. I was the only hunter to bring any birds back home after the morning hunt.

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If you’ve got trained dogs, they run out and get your birds. In my case, through, I had to go fetch my own. We’ll be going out this evening with a guy who likes to call and also owns some dogs. I anticipate a truly luxurious experience. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

  1. Hunting ducks is a lot of fun. I found it to be a great time to shoot the breeze with your buddies and watch as nature does her thing around you. The ducks themselves are a lot easier to hit than doves, and that’s always satisfying.
  2. I had anticipated much colder weather so I ended up sweating a ton in my 3 mil neoprene waders and Carhartt long john underwear. This evening and tomorrow morning I plan on running a great deal less in the way of insulated clothing.
  3. Did I mention that this is fun? I mean really fun. I see why people are so addicted to doing it.
  4. Just like deer hunting, a set of electronic hearing protection is golden. You can still chat with your friends, but when the ducks come in, your ears are protected from damage.
  5. The Benelli SBE II is a dream. I used the included shim kit last week to adjust the drop on the stock so it fit me better, and it points like an extension of my body. While I only shot about half a box of three-inch #2 steel shot this morning, my shoulder feels great thanks to the cushy recoil pad and (what I perceive to be) soft shooting Inertia Driven system.
  6. There are a lot of duck recipes on the internet.
  7. Have I mentioned how much fun it is?

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I’m not sure why duck hunting is such a good time. Maybe because they’re such a large animal that it seems kind of wild to just shoot one out of the sky. Or maybe because you get to hang out and shoot the breeze with your buddies. Or it might be the fact that you’re sitting in some brackish water, watching tailing reds, as hundreds of ducks fly over at high altitude. It’s just really cool, tons o’ fun, and damnit, I think I’m totally addicted.

comments

  1. avatar bfitts262 says:

    Duck hunting is so addicting it has been hard in north Texas around Wichita Falls no water to be found anywhere you can hunt, 2 years of no Duck Hunting will give you withhdrawls it is a horrible horrible feeling. And I have always wanted to do some coastal Duck Hunting…

  2. avatar Taylor TX says:

    Yep, some folks they get the waterfowling bug the first time and never get rid of it, definitely the case for me. I like to include a jerk rig in my decoy spread and the mojo on the far side with room on either side of the jerk rig acting like a landing strip. Weve been hunting off a bank in fairly shallow water this year, which is lucky for me cause I dont have a boat or dog or even have access to someone who does. Calling is probably my favorite part of all of it honestly, trying to work the birds in, learning how to alternate calls etc.

    It may not be the tastiest bird, but it sure as hell is the most fun to hunt.
    Looks like a pretty good amount of birds flying, glad yall had a good time, Ive definitely been enjoying these articles..

  3. avatar Duck_Hunter says:

    It only takes one time. My first time was opening day of 2013 and I was addicted to it immediately. I had never hunted anything before that.

    Good write up.

  4. avatar v v ind says:

    Whats a Texas limit?

  5. avatar mountocean says:

    You’ll be chasing the feathered dragon for the rest of your life now.

  6. avatar LJM says:

    Again, welcome to a lifetime of great memories. If you ever find yourself in Northern Illinois, late December-January… I’ll save you a spot in a goose pit here. Field hunting giant Canada’s is a different animal but just as fun.

    Good shootings!

  7. avatar Alex says:

    when preparing those ducks for the orange sauce a very strong ceramic rare earth magnet of the sort that you can strip out of a dead hard drive 9the old 5 inch size had the best ones) is major aid to getting all of the steel shot out of the meat/
    in the old days of lead shot we never bothered much about getting all the shot out of our game as the lead was soft enough to not damage your teeth… and when game is a large part of your diet as it was in my family you sort of develop an instinct for avoiding chomping down hard on the first chew of a mouthful.

    but steel shot is another thing entirely the first time i ate a duck i had shot with steel shot it cost me almost $200 in dental work.. the dentist put me on to using these super magnets to get every last bit of steel out of the bird.

    welcome to the fraternity of duck hunters…. don’t forget to join Ducks Unlimited….

  8. avatar 12duallydog says:

    I have been a duckaholic for the past 10 years now .I live in East Texas where there is some really hot spots to hunt . Tyler , if you are addicted already ,wait until you have some teal flying in from behind you , they sound like jets going overhead . Or when you start using a duck call and you get those birds to come back to your spread . There is nothing more great than duck hunting in my opinion .

  9. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Awesome. Now you know how I feel about chukar and pheasant.
    The icing is the right recipe. Then the meal with the same folks you hunted with. Great times.

  10. avatar Rimfire says:

    So you are now ingrained into the fun of ducks! Great, Now you know what my brother-in -law did to me…no regrets ever. The snow, the cold and all that goes with the hunts is amazing now thanks to the camaraderie of the blind!! Back when I started steel shot was in it’s infancy and was nearly ineffective as a blank round. We were so used to lead and it’s immediate killing power. Later on the big guys got it right with steel, finally started harvesting birds again not watching cripples get away. Winchester Ammunition was a huge driving force in getting it right; so I buy their Blindside hex pellet loads and use them with great success.

    Oh, btw, you are not a FUDD no matter what they say!!

  11. avatar JWTaylor says:

    8am and I just limited out. Teal are tasty! JWT

  12. avatar Puyallup Devil Doc says:

    I warned all of you about getting into duck hunting. Anyhoo.. If you’re not enjoying eating duck, buy a meat grinder. I made mallard summer sausage last night, and wow. Just wow…

  13. avatar Geoff PR says:

    ” The water out here in the mangrove swamps and oyster beds is super shallow. We’re talking a foot to two and a half, tops.”

    And later mentioned tailing Redfish…

    I suppose its the Florida fisherman in me that read – Mangrove swamp… super shallow…foot to two and a half, tops…Redfish…

    And the first thing that popped into what little is left of my mind…

    “Man, I bet the snook up there love that skinny water over those (boat hull and lower-unit destroying) oyster bars…”

    Your daybreak pic over that brackish water is just like what we have in Florida.

    Now i almost regret selling that boat.

    Almost.

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