10 Duck Hunting Tips for Beginners

When it gets cold outside, that's the time of year when sportsmen around the world break out their hunting gear.

Duck season is one of the most popular ways to pursue waterfowl, making it a special period of weeks on the sportsman's calendar. Hunting ducks presents special challenges that require a particular set of skills.

Fortunately, this article takes a look duck hunting tips that will help you make the most of this season so that every outing on the water will be a success. Keep reading for the inside scoop on duck hunting for beginners. 

1. Outfit Yourself With All the Right Gear

Duck hunting requires more than just a gun. 

If you're hunting on a river or lake, you'll need a boat and probably a blind. Keep in mind that ducks have amazing eyesight. So you really can't sit or stand out in the open and expect to have any success.

The best boats for duck season are aluminum and flat-bottom and will provide enough space for everyone in your hunting party, dog, and decoys.

A duck blind helps you hide from view while also offering a bit of shelter from the elements such as wind and rain. 

2. Choose the Right Gun for the Job

Not every gun is right for every type of hunting. For example, taking a rifle on a duck hunt will not provide optimal results. You're going to need a shotgun.

The type of shotgun you choose is largely a matter of preference and the amount of power you want.

Most duck hunters typically opt for either a 12 gauge or a 20 gauge. The 12 gauge is the more powerful of the two, providing the hunter with a better reach than a 20 gauge. This is important for those moments when the waterfowl are out beyond your decoys and you need the most accuracy and power possible.

Keep in mind that a 12 gauge shotgun has more "kick", thus your going to feel it in your shoulder every time you pull the trigger.

3. Choose the Right Camo

Another thing to remember about outfitting yourself hunting is that not every type of camo is the same.

Woodland camo is best for the woods, and wetland camo for hunting on or near the water. Wetland camo typically features straw and reeds rather than tree bark or leaves.

Choosing the right camo pattern for duck hunting is crucial for blending into the natural environment, which will help keep the waterfowl from spotting you as they approach your decoys.

4. Use the Right Decoys

Choosing the right decoys will make all the difference. After all, you wouldn't want to use geese decoys for hunting mallards or wood ducks.

The purpose of decoys is to attract the specific species of ducks you are hunting. You want ducks in flight to recognize their own kind lurking in the water and to feel safe to land among them.

Thus you need to match the species of decoy to the specific you're hoping to attract. For example, when hunting mallards, you'll want a variety of mallard drakes and hens. The same goes for wood ducks or any other duck species.  

5. You'll Need Waders

Waders are extremely important to the sport of duck hunting. After all, you'll be in and around bodies of water during the coldest period of the years. 

You can choose between hip waders or chest waders, which enable you to wade into the water for placing decoys or to retrieve fallen ducks.

Waders help keep you warm and dry because there's nothing worse than getting wet when the temperature is below freezing and you are a long way from shelter or a dry change of clothes. This brings up another important tip: always bring along a dry change of clothes in case of an emergency.

6. You'll Need a Hunting License and Duck Stamp

Don't forget that each state requires a duck license, even if you're hunting on private land. In addition, you'll also need a duck stamp. 

Hunting without both of these legal documents is against the law and will result in prosecuting, which could include both fines and even time in jail. 

Fortunately, both a hunting license and duck stamp can be obtained and minimal expense at any local sporting goods store and many supermarkets

7. Hone Your Marksmanship Skills 

Having a successful hunting season requires months of preparation. This includes practicing with your weapon of choice.

Most duck hunters spend weeks ahead of time brushing up their marksmanship skills by shooting clay pigeons. These are clay disks that can be flung by hand or with a springloaded trap thrower that will fling the clay "bird" into the air, representing the speed and trajectory of a waterfowl in flight.

Shooting clay pigeons or "skeet" is incredibly challenging, and will quickly elevate your skills to the next level. The more time you are able to spend practicing aiming at a moving target, the better prepared you'll be for aiming at the real thing out in the wild on a frigid day. 

8. Choose a Good Hunting Spot

Once you have all your gear and have brushed up on your shooting skills, you'll need to find a good hunting spot

The key is to choose a location along a winter migration route, where ducks are moving toward warmer climates for the season. Once you've found the ideal location for your blind, position it facing a spot on the water where the ducks can easily land among your decoys. 

9. Be Patient

No matter what type of game you're pursuing, patience is key to a successful hunt. Ducks are not going to cooperate with your schedule, and will often arrive at unexpected moments. So you need to be willing to just chill out and wait as long as it takes.

10. Be Willing to Stay Late

Yes, you're going to get tired. And it will be cold out on the water. But you need to be willing to wait. Keep in mind that ducks tend to be very active at both sunrise and sunset.

Important Duck Hunting Tips 

When it comes to having the best duck season possible, you need to be as prepared as possible. The duck hunting tips contained here will help give you the edge you've been looking for.

Click here to see a list of hunting dates for the 2019-2020 season.

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