Monday, January 11, 2016

Decoys as a Deterrent

Normally a hunter would put decoys out to attract ducks or geese to a spot where they can be ambushed but in the last few days of duck hunting on the Missouri, that strategy proved to not be very affective. In fact, we watched hundreds of geese fly past a couple guys set up just upstream of us on the Missouri River Ranch a few days ago and as the geese approached their decoys, they would flare and those guys wouldn't get a shot. We set up in the channel across and downstream from them and did get some ducks to come in at first but it became obvious at some point that the majority weren't really digging our spread either. Instead, they would flare just outside of range and then land only about a hundred yards or so away but on the other side of the island in the main stem of the river. Trying to put the sneak on them was nearly impossible so we just watched duck after duck pile into that side, not really being too interested in what we had to offer.

At about 2:30 in the afternoon, the guys on the ranch decided to pull the plug. They had about half their decoys spread out on the field and half out on the bend of the river where normally, geese and ducks like to hang out. It took them about a half-hour to pick up and drive off the field. I'm not kidding you; 15 minutes after they left, the geese and ducks piled into that bend by the dozens. It wasn't a timing thing either because there were plenty of birds flying around before they left, they just didn't like seeing the decoys. So that got us to start thinking about the next day and how we would approach these educated birds.

What we wound up doing the next day was setting up the majority of our decoys in the channel like we had the day before. Then we took a handful of decoys and spread them out right along the bank on the opposite side of the island where the ducks were landing the evening before and then built a blind right along the cut bank on the main stem of the river. It actually worked. A few ducks landed in the channel but the vast majority were coming in right in front of us. The only problem was we didn't really take into account the sun, which was bright as hell and there was no wind to dictate where the ducks would be coming in from. Half the time we couldn't see the ducks because of the sun and we never knew where they would come from so we screwed up quite a few opportunities. It was pretty cool though and definitely not conventional but something to put in the tool box for those late season birds that have been educated.

As a final note, while picking up decoys, we heard guys shooting until way after shooting hours right up until a half-hour after sunset. They were pretty close and there wasn't another vehicle at the gate so we assumed they had a boat they would be taking out at Craig. We did run into them and asked them about the late shooting. They didn't know shooting hours on waterfowl ends at sunset because most other game, you can shoot until a half-hour after. Check out these videos and you'll understand why it closes when it does.

Ducks just don't stand a chance in that last half hour.

The season is closed now for the next five days and then reopens the 16th through the 20th. It's a good break for the ducks and for the hunters. If you're going to go out for the late season, please read the regulations.

Keep 'em where they live...

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