Flooding Fields – Bonanza or Bust

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Have you ever shelled out thousands of dollars to lease a field?  Did you have a good return on your money by the weight of dead ducks and geese?

The majority of waterfowlers believe that if you find a corn, rice or other grain field and pump water on it, you have an instant bonanza for waterfowl.  However, more times than not, this turns out to be a very expensive bust.

Ducks and geese will fly over thousands of fields just like yours and why they pick one over another is anyone’s guess.  Some people don’t like pork chops, sweet potatoes or bell peppers.  That is just how they are and what they like to eat.  Waterfowl are no different.  Some birds may see your field as an all you can eat steak dinner, while other ducks see it as rotting grain.

You may be one of the lucky people that flood that field and have instant success and consistently kill ducks.  Always try and duplicate what is working for you and keep in mind the conditions so you put the odds in your favor.

Now, let’s say your 40 acre field is flooded and has a thousand birds on it.  That is still not a guarantee you will kill them.  Now I will go over a few tips to help you kill these field birds, once you have them.

  • Watch the field before you hunt it. Ducks and geese may prefer one corner over another and that is where they are going, no matter how many decoys you have or how much you call.  Get on the “X” and you will kill more birds. Period.
  • Get Hid- Really Hid. There are no oak or cypress trees to cast shadows on you in a flooded field, so you have to hide in plain sight.  Pit blinds are the most common and work well.  However, you are committing a large amount of money and telling the ducks to come to you.  Skid blinds or smaller more portable blinds are my favorite.  I can set up a skid blind that can be pulled behind a ranger or 4 wheeler in minutes, or build a small blind out of fast grass and natural vegetation.  I like to go to the birds, not make them go where they don’t want to.
  • Decoy Spreads- GO BIG. Field hunting is when you get to run your MEGA spread with all the trimmings.  I try and use at least 8 dozen Avian X floaters with mostly mallards, pintail and teal.  Then I ALWAYS use Avian X speck, Canada, snow goose and mallard full bodies.  These decoys are far more visible and give a sense of safety.  I don’t mix the ducks and geese together and set them as individual groups.  I know people that run 300-500 decoys in their fields and that is great.  Most people don’t have that many decoys nor can afford them.
  • Calling- Hit um hard. Although you are hunting a private field, you still are trying to get birds in a 40 acre field to within 40 yards of your death sticks.  I like to pour the ringing hail calls and hard, sharp chatter until they get within 150 yards or so.  Then, scale it back to more normal greeting calls and aggressive feed calls.  Always remember, if it ain’t working, change it up.
  • Roost- Let um leave. If the birds are roosting in your field.  Let them leave on their own and you will typically have greater success.  If you come barging in on your UTV and bust them out all at once, you may not keep those birds long and will have a harder time killing them.
  • Don’t over hunt. If you can, try not to hunt your field on consecutive days.  Let the birds rest and feel secure as much as possible.  It should be a haven to feed and loaf and avoid hunting pressure on public land.
  • Pick um up. I know I will get a lot of sneers on this one, but I always pick up my decoys.  I have never saw mallards land in decoys and stick around and feed like geese will.  If you are running Texas rigs on your decoys, you can pick up 100 in minutes.  Pick up your decoys and the ducks won’t be conditioned to seeing them and your decoys won’t fade in the sun either.

Well, there you go.  If you are willing and able to invest in a field, I hope I have helped you a little bit in some form or fashion.  It is not as easy as “flood it and they will come”.

G’ Luck Texas Nation

Story by Shane Smith

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