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Thread: Decoys and questions for a beginner (and a kid)

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    Default Decoys and questions for a beginner (and a kid)

    I am really hoping to get somewhat into duck hunting this fall ( I tried to go alst year, but work and school and moose hunting kept me from going out), but I don't have any good swamps around here, they are all high and dry (ok, well, not mush standing water on them anyway), most of the ducks stay in the lakes. I was thinking about hopping in our canoe and kinda drifting nice and easy up to a flock and umping up and poping a few of them ( I don't really care if I get a limit). if this a good Idea? if I got a half dozen or so decoys and stuck them around the boat, would I be able to get closer to the flock?

    Also, how do you lead them? I have practiced a little bit of leading, like throwing a shotgun shell up and out and hitting it, but I still feel very un prepared, is there anything a youngun like me could do SOLO to help improve my hitting?

    I have a 12 GA auto loader (kindof a cheap one, but its all I got) with a modified choke, will that work OK for ducks? what size shot should I use? also, if I didn't have a canoe, could I go out to a beaver dam and put out a half dozen or so decoys and be able to bring in a few there? I can't really drive anywhere so I am stuck with what I got.

    Any info would be great!!
    Thanks!

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    If you have birds on those lakes, I would scout out where they like to sit, and set decoys up there then hunt that spot. Drifting up on birds can be effective, but as birds get more and more educated as the season goes on it will be harder to get close enough to them. I would say the best bet would be to put those decoys out, build yourself a blind and hunt over them. You mentioned you have a couple beaver dams around. These can be great places to hunt, scout them out and see if the birds like to sit in them. If they do, you might have a good hunting spot on your hands.

    A 12 gauge auto shotgun with a modified choke is perfect. A lot of waterfowlers (myself included) use this exact set up. As far as shot size goes, I like to use #2, but wouldn't use anything less than #4. Some guys will use smaller shot sizes but I have seen this cripple a lot of birds, and the bird eventually gets away. Make sure you are using steel shot. Lead shot is illegal to hunt waterfowl. To learn to lead the bird, you need to practice shooting. Leads vary on the shot the bird presents you. You need to spend some time shooting some clays, but make sure you are getting the clay to fly in different directions.

    Good luck, duck hunting is very addictive, and I guarantee you will be hooked very fast.
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    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FurFishGame View Post
    Also, how do you lead them? I have practiced a little bit of leading, like throwing a shotgun shell up and out and hitting it, but I still feel very un prepared, is there anything a youngun like me could do SOLO to help improve my hitting?
    Lead depends on how the birds are flying. Most duck shots over decoys are a crossing shot and you "shoot them in the lips". This means you lead them so that the shot string hits their heads. Most folks focus on the body of the bird and end up shooting behind them too often. If you focus your eyes on the bill and then lead that a couple of feet depending on the birds speed you will more often hit the head or chest.

    The most effective way to learn to use a shotgun is to have targets thrown at a fast speed across your view or away from you. Skeet and trap are the two systems that will improve your ability to hit birds. 5 stand is the next level since it represents actual hunting conditions.

    If you are alone up there and there is nobody to throw a target for you, you are kind of stuck. You can find a single bird swing arm launcher and rig a cord to one of your feet to release it as you set a foot back. However this would be really frustrating since you have to set the whole thing up for each shot. Get in touch with your inner MacGiver and you might be able to figure something out.

    I don't know which 70 miles you are at, but don't forget the river sloughs. Several speices of ducks raise their young along the edges of creeks and sloughs with good grass cover and even in early September have not left these areas for the marshes.

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    What do you guys suggest for decoys? I don't have a ton of money to spend, so i will prolly get a half dozen or so, along with one of them that sits on a stand with the spinning wings.

    Is that a OK idea or should I save my money till I can buy a dozen or more? should they be mallards or a mix, or do I even need decoys?

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    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    Early in the season nearly all the birds are brown so having a dozen hen mallard decoys works well for the first half of september. Then the drakes start to change into their winter plumage. It does not really matter if you use full color drakes from the start of the season.

    If you can get a dozen mallards that will work OK for most hunting situations. Once you have some more money get one of the wigeon and green wing teal "harvester packs" from green head gear. Most often these are sold only through Macks Prairy Wings but some packs are also sold through Cabelas. First though make sure you have wigeon and teal in your ponds and lakes. You should have wigeon since they are boreal forest birds and are found all over this region in the summer and fall.

    Duck decoys have been in use for over 10,000 years, so they are very handy in getting birds to come close to you. However, if you find a spot that the birds always come to for food then you might not need decoys very often, but you may end up teaching the birds that that location is too hot. When you place some decoys out you will be showing the birds that the spot appears safe.

    A spinner is good for the wing flash to draw birds into a spot from far away. They will see the movement. However, local birds and older birds have learned that hovering birds are not safe. Having movement on the water is more important. Ripples can be seen from farther away than the wing flash. Jerk strings or bilge pump feeder butts might be a better solution.

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    Fur Fish and Game

    I will give you a dozen if you are that hard up for cash...got over 200 and have yet to use them here in AK..lol

    If I am still here in Sept...we can get together...I will take you out and show you the ropes. says your 70 miles north of Anchorage..if so..there has to be some lakes up there with birds. If you are interested in driving... I am game, this is to easy. You mentioned (and a kid) how old is your son or daughter? Great to get them involved early.
    send me an email at duckhunter01@hotmail.com we can talk about hooking up with the decoys.

    Leading: go shoot clays...get someone to throw them or get a launcher cheap...but keep in mind, shooting ducks is alot harder than it looks and the clays keep going in the same direction..lol. Pattern at different stages of your range will change, leading is something that really needs to be worked out in the marsh. We all miss a ton of birds in the beginning of the season..lol..and sooner than latter get warmed up and on target.

    Beaver pond. if there are ducks on this pond or lake..for that matter on any lake in your area. depending on the size or quanity of birds...to many factors here. Ultimate goal is to put the decoys where the birds want to be. I see 50 birds on a certain corner of a lake. the next day I am there before them and put 50 decoys where they were, if you have a small pond and have seen birds on it but cant get to the exact area...put decoys on the pond where you can go..they probably will swing by for a looksee....sounds easy I know....like to think that over 30 years of chasing these feathered friends has taught me something...

    Enjoy the sport..nothing like it!
    DH
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    Gen.1:26
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    Duckhunter

    Maybe you should give the guy 2 doz deeks. I mean you have enough to sink your boat don't you.

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    Brother...that is not even fair...

    Come to think of it...probably would'nt hurt

    That is to funny!
    President of Alaska Waterfowl Assoc.
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    Gen.1:26
    And God said, let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

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    I am the kid...I'm 15. do I even need decoys? cause I don't really want ot drag 5 dozen out there if I don't have to, means how it would be quite a hike.

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    Alright kid..listen up

    You don't need 5dz decoys to be successful and you couldn't haul them anyhow in the bag that would hold them..trust me. dragging would be the only method unless you got one of them fancy machines with 4 wheels and a nice size rack on the back.

    I ain't gonna give you one of my bags..but the offer still stands on the decoys..lol
    Go to this website http://hunting.flambeauoutdoors.com/...sories_pg3.asp
    and get the bag on the bottom of the page...best there is for hauling out two dozen or so decoys. Great bag and very durable and tough. It will last for many seasons. Stay away from the cheaper ones..as you will only use them for camoing your blind latter or as mosquito netting.

    I will be making runs up to my cabin all summer long around Talkeetna..so we got plenty of time to link up along the highway up there and do a hand-off on the decoys.

    Now get off this forum and grab that duck call and get to school...have some fun annoying the teachers with it..

    (Disclosure) Not responsible for getting expelled, sent to detention, or multiple trips to principals office...

    Glad to see a water-fowler on the net....good place for ya...enjoy!
    DH01
    President of Alaska Waterfowl Assoc.
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    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alask...78020265619952
    AlaskaWaterfowlAssociation@gmail.com
    Gen.1:26
    And God said, let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

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    Member SkinnyD's Avatar
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    Keep those ears open kiddo. Ol' DH knows what he's talking about.

    I only use 14 decoys... 6 gadwalls, 4 mallards, 3 teal, one butt. Sometimes I cut it back to 7 when I want to carry some other stuff like burlap or camera equipment... 4 gadwalls and 3 mallards. One way or the other, I only make one trip from truck to blind. Of course it's easier to get more stuff to your spot in a boat, but it's not totally necessary. As long as you've got a pair of chest waders and a decoy bag with backpack straps, you'll be fine walking in to tons of spots. You need to go where the ducks want to be and they will land right in your face. If they want to be somewhere else, you could bring 150 decoys and never fire a shot.

    Put my email address in your contact book and shoot me a message later in the summer. I'd be tickled to have you and your pops up for a hunt if you want to try the interior. I always have to hunt alone and the pup would love to fetch an extra limit.
    moosecall05@yahoo.com
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    Thanks guys!

    Although I'm not looking for a hand out, I would rather buy them on my own, or, if I don't need them, I would rather not have them. You guys really seem to know your stuff, Thanks for your advise!!!

    Now, about the canoe thing, is this a waste of time or would it work? I prolly won't even get out this year because its kinda in the middle of the farming season, BUT, if I were to go camping, and had the canoe, and my shotgun, and some steel shot, would I be better off sittin on the bank or form the water?

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    Sponsor Duckhunter01's Avatar
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    FurFish and Game

    Not a hand out...generous offer from one water fowler to a new waterfowler...call it what it is.

    Did not mention you had a canoe...your possibilities are pretty much endless on lakes and small ponds with that...you will not do any good on the open water with that unless you develop some kind of high speed blind system for it. Otherwise take it out..place decoys about 30-40 yards from some cover...tuck the boat and yourself back in the cover or edge of land..and look skyward.

    If your calling is limited and not to good...learn the two basic calls first. Lonesome hen mallard and comeback call...the only two you will need to kill birds. Many people over call, especially the new ones to the sport, they sound horrible and try to hard. There is so much to learn when calling birds...you HAVE to know when to call and what type of call to present at exactly the right moment to weary birds that have been shot at for weeks or months. Silence works as well. Let the decoys do the talking.

    Patterns...there are many to start with...start with the two basic patterns..lazy J and two groups spread apart with the opening in the middle of them about 15 yards if not more...just depends on the water. Wind, rain, snow, No-wind etc...all play a huge part in decoy placement and bird movement. Come to think of it..there is so much to really learn about true water fowling.. you would really benefit from going with someone that knows what they are doing. There are many on this forum..both north and south that could help you out if you are willing to open your mind to the fact.

    You posted on here asking for help and questions....we are providing them..so listen to what we are offering and take heed to the notes. We have all been where you are at sometime..and luckily for us...someone took the time to help us years ago to get us to where we are now. I am no expert..but consider myself extremely well versed in hunting waterfowl.

    You have to remain optimistic while hunting...no matter what the quarry.

    There are many that read the post and don't respond..the ones that do are pretty sincere on here when offering help or advice.

    Enjoy!

    DH
    President of Alaska Waterfowl Assoc.
    http://akwaterfowl.com
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alask...78020265619952
    AlaskaWaterfowlAssociation@gmail.com
    Gen.1:26
    And God said, let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

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    Member SkinnyD's Avatar
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    If somebody offers you a dozen decoys, you ought to take them. It's really the only way basements get cleaned out sometimes. Can you imagine throwing away 12 perfectly good decoys? No! So of course they just sit there collecting dust. But I guarantee you that if he offers them, he's got more than enough to spare. I moved up here with about 2 dozen and I've already doubled that... and I already told you that I only hunt with about a dozen at a time. Keep your eye on Craigslist too and you might catch a GI unloading his stock before he heads off to Guam or some other miserable destination with no ducks.
    Passing up shots on mergansers since 1992.


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    Sooo, would it be ron of my to bring my puter to the lake and re-read all your guys's comments while I am trying to get a duck or 2?

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    Member kwackkillncrew's Avatar
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    dude whats ur deal? i dont under stand your logic. people give you advice and offer free decoys and you dont take them? i mean geeze you meet with the guy you will probably talk duck huntin for a little bit and would probably get a little more advice since ur face to face and not on a public forum.
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