If you hunt public land, you know there are more people hunting waterfowl than ever. The boat ramps resemble the parking lot at Walmart on black Friday. Most of these hunters are going to hunt until 9 AM or so and if they don’t have a limit, call it quits for the day. This activity will condition birds in your area to feed later and return to the marsh mid-morning to loaf and preen. These early morning hunters will miss out on these ready to decoy mid-morning greenheads.
Here are a few tips and tricks for a Mid-Morning bounty of Green.
- Hunt smaller sloughs and holes that are harder to reach. Most public water seasoned mallards will be looking for hard to get to spots where they won’t be disturbed and jumped up all day.
- Don’t be afraid to move. If the spot you hunted at daylight is an area where you are running traffic or pass shooting, you will probably need to move to a more secluded area.
- Pay close attention to the wind. The wind direction can change drastically from daylight to noon, so be on the ready to shift your decoys or your hide to account for the wind.
- Keep your head up and eyes open. These mid-morning mallards are notorious for dropping in without ever making a sound. The action will typically not be face paced as right at daylight, but these ducks will usually decoy on a string.
- Keep the calling to a minimum. I know all mallard hunters feel the deep primal urge to grab their calls whenever they see a greenhead. If you must call, keep it to softer contented quacks and feed chuckles. Remember, these ducks are seeking safety from the masses that are calling at them like they are on Main Street in Stuttgart, Arkansas.
- Motion is a must. I will ALWAYS deploy some type of motion decoy into a midday mallard spread. I typically use a Wonder duck cyclone feeder and a mallard magic decoy that produces water motion as well as some wing flashing motion. If you don’t have wonder ducks, then at least use a jerk cord or anything to get ripples on the water and some movement in your spread.
- Use full body decoys. I absolutely love full body decoys for this application. Mallards will try and find a log, stump or grass mat to stand up on and preen or catch a nap. Full body decoys not only look ultra realistic, but are far more visible than floaters. Try and set these decoys in the sun if it is out or in an area where they can be seen easily.
- Run a smaller more relaxed spread. I will try and pair up hens and drakes or 3 to a small group. You are typically going to be shooting pairs and singles instead of large flocks or groups.
If you sleep in on a Saturday, don’t feel like you can’t kill any mallards since you missed the early flight. Get up and on your way and you will be meeting all the other hunters on their way home from the marsh. Now you can get your spot with little or no competition. As I said earlier, the action maybe a little slower, but the ducks will normally do right and stick out those big, beautiful orange feet and make you smile from ear to ear.
Try these tips the next time you get a late start or the early morning flight didn’t fill your strap and see if they don’t work for you.