A Best Friend Who’s Willing To Go Duck Hunting
During the off-season, we have two types of scouting: ducks and geese. These vary in a couple ways, but the goal is always to find the birds. We do morning, afternoon, and evening scouting, and we do it all year long If birds are landing in a particular area that we can’t hunt, I usually find myself knocking on doors or getting on the phone.
For geese, I find that we’re most successful when we wait until the season draws closer. Our fields change from year to year: corn, beans, alfalfa, plus the occasional wheat field (but those are few and far between). In the early season, alfalfa fields are where it’s at. But as soon as corn gets cut, you can forget about the alfalfa and beans.
As for my favorite type of scouting: ducks! We scout areas that have been successful in the past and also places that seem to have potential. In the early stages, we’ll go “fishing.” This consists of getting on the water around 30 to 45 minutes before sunrise and watching the skies for ducks. We do this 3 or 4 times a week. If the location proves to be promising, I save the coordinates in my notes with a name and location.
As the season nears, scouting intensifies. Two weeks before season starts, we spend every morning scouting to confirm birds are still in that area. We’ll see where the birds are taking off in the mornings and where they’re landing in the evenings.
We have found at times that birds will pile in at some locations prior to season but then move on to other water sources once the season begins. If we’re not seeing a lot of birds throughout the day during season, we proceed elsewhere. There’ve been times when I’ve found myself in backwaters off the river that prove to be a pain in the ass to get to—and ever more so to set up. I do find myself asking, “What the f*#k did I get myself into?!” But all that hard work, on most accounts, pays off.
We run an 1854 Excel with a Mudbuddy 44hp BlackDeath. Love and rely on these two monsters! They’ve gotten us through some horrible stuff. Decoys we run Dakotas; the movement from these decoys is realistic, and they move in the slightest wind or current. For calls I rely on my Echo ODB and a vintage PS Olt Illinois Screamer—turned many a duck with them.
Now, in the afternoons, it’s a little more fun: we run rivers and creeks and jump ducks. Noon to about 4 p.m. is when ducks are lazy in our parts and have come back from feeding elsewhere. We do this on lakes too, although it’s much easier there to just fish and watch them loafing on the water.
About my dog, where do I begin? My boy Boomer has been an absolute gift from God. He’s great at home and even better in the field. No, he’s not titled, but that’s not what I was looking for in a hunting companion.
I wanted someone who would never have an excuse not to go, who was always excited when I started dragging out the gear, who vigorously searched the cattails for ducks, who was always by my side. I wanted a duck dog.
Instead, I got a best friend who’s always willing to go duck hunting.
“He might only be here for a part of your life, but for him, you are his whole life.” They’re God’s gift to us.