How To Beat The Crowds In Duck Season

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It has never been cooler to be a waterfowler than right now.  Drake pullovers are standard issue equipment for date night or a dinner with the family these days.

What this equates to is more and more pressure at your local lake, marsh or public walk in area.

Do you get to the ramp earlier, stay the night on the water or just not go to avoid the chaos?

I have found that sometimes sleeping in and getting out there a bit later will lead to a heavy strap at the end of the day.  Here are a few tips & tricks that I have found to work for me when the crowds show up.

  • Get to the ramp or parking lot after most hunters are leaving. More often than not, hunters are calling it quits by 9-10 AM.  If that is the case in your area, try and get there by 10-11 AM.  You will have far less pressure and can pick from a lot more spots than you could at 4 AM.
  • Hunt Harder. When the birds are feeling the pressure like a Thanksgiving Turkey, don’t be afraid to get in the thick and nasty of it.  Those small and hard to reach holes that make you doubt your diet and exercise programs….these are worth hitting to find less pressured birds.  Be ready to walk further and dive deeper in the abyss to find those less pressured birds.
  • Hunt Smarter. When I say smarter, I am talking about hiding, decoy placement and calling.  Do what you can to set yourself apart from the masses.  Be smart and be ready to evolve as the day unfolds.
  • Be Patient. You will probably not experience the same amount of birds that you would at daylight.  So don’t give up or get discouraged when there aren’t many birds in the sky.  BUT, these mid day birds are usually looking to loaf and get down with far less hesitation than the early morning flight ducks.
  • Ride the hole. Plan on staying until sunset or the last of legal shooting light.  Once you reach your destination, don’t be a “boom” hunter and try and chase what other people are doing.  They may be shooting at coots, neutra rats or heaven knows what.  You picked this spot for a reason, stick with your gut and put the odds in your favor.

The best time to hunt is anytime you can.  We are never guaranteed tomorrow and there is no time like the present.  Stop and grab some little Debbie’s, biscuit, monster, coffee or whatever is your morning ritual and head to the ramp.  I guarantee you will have a Charlie Brown smile when you see a far less crowded ramp when you pull up.  Don’t let the crowds keep you off the water, make some small adaptations and go fill your strap up.

Shane Smith


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