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Zkight89

Beginning Waterfowl Necessities?

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Zkight89

Good Evening Gentlemen,

 

 I'm planning on giving waterfowl hunting a shot this year for the first time, other than a few wood duck shoots. I've already got a few suitable guns, a Lab I've hunted upland birds  and been through basic water retrieve training with, a set of neoprene waders and a boat to get to non walk in areas with. 

 

 What are the little things y'all couldn't get by without?  I'm a bit of a minimalist so I'll not be going nuts with a million decoy spread or carrying 15 calls with me.... 

 

Also, if it matters any I'm in North Central Oklahoma and will be hunting mostly public land.

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RayB

For early season those neoprene's will be punishing, get a set of breathable, some decoys and learn to call. Good luck and take pictures.

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Remo

I haven't hunted waterfowl for years so naturally I'm qualified...  Just about everybody here field hunts ducks and geese except for divers. If you scout a grainfield where they are feeding a layout blind and a few goose decoys might set you up for ducks.

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Windrider

1 1/4 oz #2 or #3 and a modified choke in your 12ga.

A 3 in 1 whistle that you will use.

A double reed duck call to keep in you pocket unless you are going to practice pretty much every day between now and the opener.  (I’ve been duck hunting for decades and just broke out the calls today to start my three month warm up.)

 

hmmmm..., N OK.

 

I would get decoys of the type of birds you usually see.  Be aware that some decoys weigh significantly more than others.  If you have to walk in that matters.  I believe Avian X are reputed to be the lightest. Higdon seems to be the bang for the bang for the buck decoy right now.

 

My walk in decoys have both ends cut off the keels and emptied of sand to turn them into water keel decoys and I use 2oz weight.  This will save you 4-6oz per decoy over a standard fully weighted decoy like I use from the boat.  That tends to add up quickly when you start talking about carrying a dozen or two in with you.

 

I’m due south of you and typically see green wing teal, widgeon, gadwall, mallards and ringnecks.  The mix changes from year to year.

10-15 years ago it was mostly teal and mallards with a smattering of widgeon and ringnecks with a rare gadwall.

Last year it was mostly gadwall with a rare mallard.  Haven’t laid eyes on a ringneck or pintail in a half decade.

 

Minimalist investment.  1/2 dozen Higdon or GHG gadwalls on a jerk string (lots of black, dark gray, and white on these decoys)

Money to spare:  1/2 dozen each of mallard, gadwall, and widgeon.  Texas rigged at 4 feet, and a jerk string.

 

If I had to choose between motion or a duck call, I’d pick motion.  Hence the jerk string.

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Zkight89
11 minutes ago, RayB said:

For early season those neoprene's will be punishing, get a set of breathable, some decoys and learn to call. Good luck and take pictures.

The breathable type look pretty comfortable for sure. If the boys and I decide to get serious I'll certainly invest in a pair of them. 

 

 And if nothing else I am sure my knuckle head boys will make some good photo opportunities 😂

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Zkight89
12 minutes ago, Windrider said:

1 1/4 oz #2 or #3 and a modified choke in your 12ga.

A 3 in 1 whistle that you will use.

A double reed duck call to keep in you pocket unless you are going to practice pretty much every day between now and the opener.  (I’ve been duck hunting for decades and just broke out the calls today to start my three month warm up.)

 

hmmmm..., N OK.

 

I would get decoys of the type of birds you usually see.  Be aware that some decoys weigh significantly more than others.  If you have to walk in that matters.  I believe Avian X are reputed to be the lightest. Higdon seems to be the bang for the bang for the buck decoy right now.

 

My walk in decoys have both ends cut off the keels and emptied of sand to turn them into water keel decoys and I use 2oz weight.  This will save you 4-6oz per decoy over a standard fully weighted decoy like I use from the boat.  That tends to add up quickly when you start talking about carrying a dozen or two in with you.

 

I’m due south of you and typically see green wing teal, widgeon, gadwall, mallards and ringnecks.  The mix changes from year to year.

10-15 years ago it was mostly teal and mallards with a smattering of widgeon and ringnecks with a rare gadwall.

Last year it was mostly gadwall with a rare mallard.  Haven’t laid eyes on a ringneck or pintail in a half decade.

 

Minimalist investment.  1/2 dozen Higdon or GHG gadwalls on a jerk string (lots of black, dark gray, and white on these decoys)

Money to spare:  1/2 dozen each of mallard, gadwall, and widgeon.  Texas rigged at 4 feet, and a jerk string.

 

If I had to choose between motion or a duck call, I’d pick motion.  Hence the jerk string.

This is our first year here, so I'll only have my scouting experience to guide me on local species.  I'm not seeing the amount of aquatic grass here I'm used to in Florida so I'll definitely have to figure out what they're eating. 

 

Very good tips on the decoys, especially about weight. I'll keep that in mind. 

 

 Picked up a few cheap double reed calls and the boys and I have been watching videos and trying to replicate.... It'll be a miracle if we don't run off every duck in the county 😂😂

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mccuha

Ok.  I might have some helpful info.  I’ve hunted up in that area of the state before. I can tell you that there are good places to hunt when the weathers right a word of caution. If you use a boat be very careful. A lot of those lakes have a lot of stumps and such that will rip a hull wide open.  Also the wind on some of those lakes can and have been deadly.  It’s been several years since I hunted ducks in ok. They used to use helicopters to spread jap millet on the shores during the early summer so that if the water on the lakes rises it will flood the millet making it a smorgasbord for ducks.  Never walked in but there are areas you can walk in.  Pm me if you like.  I can tell you some of the lakes I’ve hunted with success.  

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mccuha
1 hour ago, Zkight89 said:

This is our first year here, so I'll only have my scouting experience to guide me on local species.  I'm not seeing the amount of aquatic grass here I'm used to in Florida so I'll definitely have to figure out what they're eating. 

 

Very good tips on the decoys, especially about weight. I'll keep that in mind. 

 

 Picked up a few cheap double reed calls and the boys and I have been watching videos and trying to replicate.... It'll be a miracle if we don't run off every duck in the county 😂😂

I’m a pretty good caller but I usually call at a minimum.  The way I hunt I want to be right where the ducks are. If you can get there calling is not as important. Decoy placement, and concealment are more important IMO

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Zkight89
2 minutes ago, mccuha said:

I’m a pretty good caller but I usually call at a minimum.  The way I hunt I want to be right where the ducks are. If you can get there calling is not as important. Decoy placement, and concealment are more important IMO

This is my strategy. Dad hunted wood ducks in Florida when I was a kid without decoys or calls. He just shot them coming to and from the roost. I'll mess with decoys and calls some but mostly to keep my boys interested.

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Treerooster

A little background on me... I hunt ducks in N Wis and NE Colorado mostly. For me decoying ducks is where its at. I love watching the birds work in and get a real kick out of setting the dekes so the birds set right in the hole in my decoys I intended them too. Doesn't always workout that way but it is what I strive for. Decoying is WAY higher on the fun meter for me than pass shooting or jumping ducks.I mostly hunt public and a long pack-in is typical. I hunt small secluded ponds, sloughs, rivers/creeks, and big reservoirs.

 

Keeping hidden and decoy placement/spot are the most important considerations IMO. Calling certainly can help though. 

 

 

Decoys  -Water-keel are certainly lighter but they do have their disadvantages, however I still use them. The biggest disadvantage being they don't look as natural as weighted-keel in wind and current. Weighted-keel can also be thrown and they will land upright...water-keel not so much. Different brands of decoys have a difference in weight too so that is a consideration. I also recommend researching reviews on decoys as far as how well they hold their paint. FWIW, you may be able to pick up some used decoys on the cheap, doesn't hurt to check Craigs list or Facebook etc. I have a spinner but don't use it a whole lot, prefer a jerk rig. I'm old fashioned I guess. Spinners do work. 

 

Rigging  -I have gone to Texas style rigging. I use the 400 or 500 lbs test monofilament  test line. I had strap weights and didn't want to buy different weights so I just folded them in half & riveted the end. They work fine. Egg type weights may work better...dunno. I tried the Tangle Free line and it just did not work for me. I tie up 6 decoys with an overhand knot in the anchor lines (up near the dekes) to get them in a carry bad more easily and keep the odds of a tangled mess down (Texas rigging really works better without a bag but harder to transport that way). 2oz weights would not work for me in many situations. In N Wis where there is a lot of submerged vegetation and the areas are sheltered from wind it would be ok. But in Colorado there is too much wind many times and my decoys would drift (serious wind moves ducks BTW). Also any water with current requires more weight as debris & slush ice will take decoys away. 

 

Shells  -I won't say a whole lot as there are many views on shells. I use steel in 12ga 3" in 3 shot (2 shot later in the season) mostly. I do use 12ga 2 3/4" in 6 shot for teal and the first shot or 2 in small water where I think big ducks will deke in well. What I don't see talked about much is cripple shot. Back when lead was legal I would carry 7 1/2 or 8 shot to dispatch cripples on the water. Now I have a 6 or 7 shot steel load handy. A wounded duck can make a very small target on the water. They get very low and just their head, or part of the head, is above water. It takes fine shot to be effective in such a situation. I've seen guys shoot 2, 3 , even 4 times at a low duck in the water with 3 or 2 shot before they actually hit it. Plus the cripple shells are cheaper.

 

Calls  -You don't need anything fancy. Haydels DR-85 mallard call is a good one that isn't priced too high. There are plenty of others too. The main thing in learning to call is to not blow into a call but say words into it using your diaphragm to control the air. Singers use their diaphragm, its a much better way to control air and I think that is the single biggest difference in someone that sounds good with a call. Calling isn't a necessity, but it sure makes it more fun for me when the birds react to it. Whistles can be good too if other species are around.

 

Other Gear  -A blind bag is nice to hold shells, calls, gloves, coffee, and whatever. I don't pack a whole box of shells usually and put the amount I think I need in a ziplock bag marked with shot size. Keeps the load lighter. A blind bag can be anything like pouch or a small backpack...just remember its going to get wet and muddy. I like a decoy bag that is designed like a pack. Got mine from Cabelas and it has a decoy bag attached to a pack like piece that has padded straps and a waist strap. For a seat I mostly use a folding seat and will carry a pad if not too far a pack-in (I'm old). I also made a marsh seat for sitting in 2 1/2 to 3 foot muddy water. I have also used my Gobbler Lounger chair when I needed to keep low due to lack of cover. I will use some burlap or camo cover now & then also. There are times I will wear a facemask but mostly I don't. Just gotta peek at the ducks through cover and from under the bill of your cap. 

 

I am not saying you need all this stuff to get into duck hunting. I just wanted to give you some things to think about. 

 

 

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Rick Hall
10 hours ago, Treerooster said:

Rigging  -I have gone to Texas style rigging. I use the 400 or 500 lbs test monofilament  test line. I had strap weights and didn't want to buy different weights so I just folded them in half & riveted the end. They work fine. Egg type weights may work better...dunno. I tried the Tangle Free line and it just did not work for me. I tie up 6 decoys with an overhand knot in the anchor lines (up near the dekes) to get them in a carry bad more easily and keep the odds of a tangled mess down (Texas rigging really works better without a bag but harder to transport that way).

 

I tried Texas rigging for a while but also preferred bags for storage and transport and found that a hassle.  My solution is to loop 400# test mono through the decoy's line hole and clamp that end.  I'll then slide half a strap weight that's been drilled through its center onto the loose end of the line, follow that with a Tanglefree line adjuster (which will still slide up and down the mono but has enough tension to hold the weight up by the decoy for storage), tie a figure-8 knot in the end of the mono and heat that with a Bic until it softens into a more permanent knot.   Slide the anchor and adjuster down to the knot for deployment and slide them back up to the decoy for storage.  The sideways strap anchor will hold most bottoms better than an equal weight of any other shape, and the stiff mono tag ends won't tangle when bagged.  (Sure seems to me like the dogs have an easier time slipping mono than braided lines, too.)

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Craig Conroy

A lot of good advice here.  I'd rather hunt ducks than anything else, particularly divers (Ringnecks!); read too much McQuarrie, I guess.  I, too, am a fan of 3" #3's for just about everything, and waist high breathable waders are the best idea ever.  You have everything else covered.  Good Hunting!

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Zkight89

Thank you Gentlemen for the advice. I've pieces together most of what I need. Except decoys.... And I can tell there are many rabbit holes to fall down if I'm not careful....

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charlo slim

You mention taking youngsters along -- good plan!  Hiding effectively is always critical, and even more so unless everyone is absolutely dead stone still as birds approach (not a common trait among most kids, and many adults for that matter). Everyone, including kids, wants to be watching birds on the approach (half or more of the fun), but white shiny faces serve as effective danger signal mirrors.  Consider light face masks, or even grease paint.  The latter always strikes me as a bit Rambo-esque, but cheap and effective.  Kids seem to like the face paint approach (but be sure and clean up before stopping at the convenience store for snacks on the way home!🙄  👮‍♂️

 

Depending on habitat / cover conditions where you will be hunting, you might consider some sort of simple blind.  Light wire mesh with coarse dead vegetation woven in is often effective., not to mention relatively cheap and available most anywhere.  Drab clothing for yourself and kids (no need to go batschit crazy on the techno-camo scene.  Fairly light shaded tans / olive often blend in pretty well --- much of the high $$ techno-cam stuff these days is way too dark for many waterfowl situations.  Think Goodwill faded Carhart color.  

 

Seats for all.  Folding stools can work fine, long as the leg setup prevents sinking in to soft soils.  Plastic pails work great also - hit the white ones with some camo Krylon paint of course.  Make or buy removable lids for the seat- buckets.

 

Pair of binoculars for scouting. Be where the birds want to be!  Be safe, and have fun.

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Zkight89

I can assure there will be some face painting going on with these clowns!!! Sitting still is gonna be tough but I'm thinking of letting the little two operate a jerk string to ease boredom.  

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