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Shane Z

2013

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Scott M

How often are we in that right place? If a duck is 20 yds on a pass by- I shoot I don't call. If it is 100 yds and cupping up heading straight on I don't call but if it starts to land at 45 yds I am going to hit it with a call to bring him up and maybe stay on em to finish em.

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dan z

Move your decoys. Maybe even pull some or add some. Call sharper and shorter. Sound like (1) duck. Hit em on the corners. Trust me I can call ducks.

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mallardnwalleye

Quote:
What I think would separate us is when you are getting 2-3-4 passes just out of range and most guys are just laying on the call. That's not duck behavior. And I chose to let those ducks work in silence or see how they react to the decoys and calls. You'd probably call that an overly conservative approach, and maybe it is.

2,3,4 passes means you aren't a good caller and aren't hidden well. When you put down the call you lost them. Finish them with my above technique for Sled a page back

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mallardnwalleye

For the above scenario lets give 4 options on calling.

1. Blareing away indiscriminately.Not good

2. Staying quiet- Ducks don't finish and leave.

3. Hitting them on the corners with a quick 5 note aka chop chop (D.C) aka hurry up. Good, but if they get too far on the corners you will lose them. A hurry up while they are almost in line with the path they have to set up into the spread might be better.

4. when they come around from the corner quack em in. they will beam in and if they don't set up they will at least fly over or just to the side of you.

Chances are the ducks are circling because like Dan said your spread is off or you are too big a blob with your hide-blind and maybe right in the path of where they are going to land. That or shot gun shells are spread out. either way good calling will work better than not calling.

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SledNeck

2,3,4 passes means you aren't a good caller and aren't hidden well. When you put down the call you lost them. Finish them with my above technique for Sled a page back

When they circle like that we call when they are out and away, hush up when they are coming close. The results are usually good. In the woods, we'll feed call until they are dropping.

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Shane Z

Hey we should talk about everyones 2012 early goose season (trials and tribulations)!! Just a thought wink

Thanks everyone who have added to this thread so far. Very Good stuff..EVEN if we dont all see eye to eye.

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mallardnwalleye

Now the tip from the above scenario is to call not on the corners as that will only require more calling on the corners and you risk losing them, but CALL when they are out front so they set up right. Also have a good enough blind so you can do this. Then stay on them with single spaced quacks to finish them.

I hope you guys learned something?

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Scott M

Wow, what marsh are you guys hunting in? The city park pond? You read it here first, some guys don't have birds that circle more than once!!! 2,3,4 times - never! We've finished a lot of birds that made the rounds - that's what late mallards do - drop high out of the sky and circle before committing. Sure, we move dekes and change up the calls if they don't come or flare off. We let em hear it on the corners and keep on them to come but I'm convinced there's a time to call and there's a time to hold back. Both practices can kill birds, so everyone's happy.

I'd swear some of these tips are designed to make worse hunters of the lot, but to each their own. I wouldn't recommend aggressive calling to a newbie if you want them to keep with the sport, but if they are willing to make a pile of mistakes, perhaps they too can be a blackbelt duck caller like some on here. As Shane says, I guess we're going to have to agree to disagree. Take what you can out of this thread that will help you.

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Gordie

Great post dachise and I know that you can not count on any duck doing the same thing as the last one well except for divers grin but thats a different ball game. typically if you have mallards close enough to shoot on the first pass its time to take them and I havent had to many times where the mallards cirle more than twice over decoys but,

I have watched mallards circle spots 3-4 times with no hunters and still fly off so its more to it than just calling and covering up. Mallards are fussy and sometime everything has to be perfect for them and even if its perfect for them it doesn't mean that they will want to drop in that spot.

One of the hardest things to do In my opinon is to try and predict what a animal is going to do, becuase just when you think you have them figured out... The game changes.

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mallardnwalleye

The point I am trying to make is -don't let them circle as you will lose them. Turn them with the call just before they get in the set up zone not on the corners. Then -Quack em in.

I just gave you an awesome tip. I am not trying to argue with you.

Give it a try (3 times at least) this coming season and let me know how it works out.

I generally don't have ducks circle because I take command of them or they leave. If the spread isn't right they will set up goofy or backdoor it but the call will generally convince them to come in. I personally believe that absolutely beats watching ducks circle and leave or circle and set up with a long shot.

I am trying to help you guys!

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CANOPY SAM

I've been hunting ducks since I was 12 years old. This fall I'll be 47. That's 35 years in the blind, with only a year or two off here and there. Am I a professional? Heck no. But I've learned enough thru trial and error over the years to know that it's not as hard as some of you are making it.

Too much arguing here, and not enough sound advice. Typical FM banter.

The one resounding mistake I hear most duck/goose callers make is they repeat the same pitch/tone over, and over, and over again. Listening to a novice caller from a quarter mile off...he sounds like someone blowing a real nasally whistle. Really listen to a group of ducks/geese loafing/feeding on the water, or in a field, you'll hear a myriad of different tones, pitches, and sounds, all differing based on the different sizes and ages of the birds in the group.

A novice caller can improve his success dramatically simply by cupping the call with both hands, pinching it closed, opening it up, left, then right, blowing softer, harder, and everything in between. Varying the degree of air going in, and exhausting out, releasing air thru the call forward, backward, toward the ground, and high into the air creates the natural sound of numerous birds, rather than just one.

On the topic of birds circling vs. immediately committing vs. "controlling" their approach. There is a lot to be said about getting on the X, as being where they've been comfortable before is a large part of the game. However, birds that hesitate to commit are often a product of the conditions. A huge component of a group of birds desire to land is based on weather conditions, blue bird skies vs. inclement weather, and they'll almost certainly make their decision more quickly based on available options.

If you're set up in the only flooded barley field for 20 square miles you can stand in the center of your spread wearing blaze orange and the birds will likely land on your shoulders. But if you're set up on one pothole in a section that has 45 other potholes, or in a slough with 10 other groups hunting, you better play your cards well or your barrel will be cold all day.

Please stop contradicting each other in this thread. There is valuable information to be shared here, but way too much "quoting" quotes, that were quoted from another quote, with no real information that benefits anyone. Thank you.

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Shane Z

I've been hunting ducks since I was 12 years old. This fall I'll be 47. That's 35 years in the blind, with only a year or two off here and there. Am I a professional? Heck no. But I've learned enough thru trial and error over the years to know that it's not as hard as some of you are making it.

Too much arguing here, and not enough sound advice. Typical FM banter.

The one resounding mistake I hear most duck/goose callers make is they repeat the same pitch/tone over, and over, and over again. Listening to a novice caller from a quarter mile off...he sounds like someone blowing a real nasally whistle. Really listen to a group of ducks/geese loafing/feeding on the water, or in a field, you'll hear a myriad of different tones, pitches, and sounds, all differing based on the different sizes and ages of the birds in the group.

A novice caller can improve his success dramatically simply by cupping the call with both hands, pinching it closed, opening it up, left, then right, blowing softer, harder, and everything in between. Varying the degree of air going in, and exhausting out, releasing air thru the call forward, backward, toward the ground, and high into the air creates the natural sound of numerous birds, rather than just one.

On the topic of birds circling vs. immediately committing vs. "controlling" their approach. There is a lot to be said about getting on the X, as being where they've been comfortable before is a large part of the game. However, birds that hesitate to commit are often a product of the conditions. A huge component of a group of birds desire to land is based on weather conditions, blue bird skies vs. inclement weather, and they'll almost certainly make their decision more quickly based on available options.

If you're set up in the only flooded barley field for 20 square miles you can stand in the center of your spread wearing blaze orange and the birds will likely land on your shoulders. But if you're set up on one pothole in a section that has 45 other potholes, or in a slough with 10 other groups hunting, you better play your cards well or your barrel will be cold all day.

Please stop contradicting each other in this thread. There is valuable information to be shared here, but way too much "quoting" quotes, that were quoted from another quote, with no real information that benefits anyone. Thank you.

WELL SAID Canopy! Thank you!

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Gordie

Mallardnwalleye great tip and I will will use that.

Nothing is set in stone when it comes to hunting and different things work for different people, and you can have a banner day and then go to the same spot the next day and have different birds work the same spread you had the day before and the results might be totally different.

These TIPS are hopefully going to help when the hunter is having one of those days that nothing in their bag of tricks seems to be working, so then its time to think back to this thread and pull a new tricks out of the hat and give it a try and if it works great and if it doesn't then try it again and hopefully it will put more birds in the bag for you.

CANOPYSAM I love the cold barrel line, but I don't want to quote you grin

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TylerS

Wow, what marsh are you guys hunting in? The city park pond? You read it here first, some guys don't have birds that circle more than once!!! 2,3,4 times - never!

I was thinking the same thing.

I mean, M&M, you're telling me that you actually sound MORE convincing than a live bird! Is this true?! Have you ever watched live birds landing in live birds in pressured areas? They will circle not twice, not three times, not even four times...but 20 times before committing! And that's even IF they commit. I've seen a boiling, chattering, quacking ball of ducks 2,000 strong in an October harvested corn field in southeast North Dakota, and every darn bird that saw that group took a solid 15 minutes before barreling in. That included pass after pass after pass...and on LIVE birds.

You might be God's gift to duck calling, but I can guaran-freaking-tee you would not have been able to hunt that field the next day and call every duck into your spread on the first pass.

I'm sorry, but the more you talk, the less credible you sound.

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Sifty

Heres tip #32.75

Remeber to have some movement in your spread.

I had a oldtimer tell me that they would take off there hats and wave then above there heads when they would see a flock off in the distance,didn't always work but he said they would get birds close enough to take a look.

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CANOPY SAM

On the topic of decoy spreads...we can all learn a lot from simply watching live birds on the water, or in the field.

I'm blessed to live in an area, Northwest MN, where we see a lot of birds move thru on their fall migration. To the north of us we have the Roseau Bog, a huge wetland on the Canadian Border that sees almost zero hunting pressure, and Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge as well as Mud Lake.

As I begin my scouting routine each season, and of course obtaining permission to hunt good fields, I often stop alongside the road and simply watch and listen to birds in the field. It's kind of fascinating to watch large groups of birds move, once they land, and how they spread out while feeding, or how they react to other approaching birds, or when slightly uneasy about my presence, or other distractions from their routine.

I often see hunters pack their decoy spreads into a tight cluster and place their blinds in the center of the spread. On an average day this will certainly offer some pass shooting opportunities, and occasionally new birds will lock up and glide in. However, I think if the decoy spread is a bit more broken up, and spread out in little family groups, pairs, triples, and slightly offset sentries, they would see more birds committing to the spread. The trick is to make your spread look relaxed.

With blocks in the water...when you watch live birds relaxing in a slough they are almost universally spread out in small family groups; a few here, a few over there, a large group milling around in different directions over on the edge, etc. When live birds are alarmed they bunch up, get into lines, are all facing the same direction ready to jump, etc. Set your blocks in relaxed little groups, leaving a couple landing holes for incoming birds. Tie dekes to the front, to the tail, etc, so they are not all facing the same direction.

I've never experienced a situation where perfectly painted, gorgeous decoys (to us) were really making a difference. My decoy spreads, ducks and geese, are all over 20 years old. There's not much paint left on any of them, and some are virtually brown, black, gray from years and years of use. A few dekes with bold white patches really stand out. Once the birds see the spread I don't think they're spending any time checking to see how pretty the decoys are. I believe they're paying much more attention to the overall look (placement) of birds in the water/field. Does the spread look relaxed, or on alert? Are there any nearby or approaching threats to them if they land there? Obviously, if something looks really out of place; glare on the decoys, a decoy that's upside down or laying on it's side, too many sentry heads up, etc., they'll likely flare or keep circling way out.

If everything looks reasonably natural and relaxed, by the time they notice you haven't painted your decoys in 20 years you're already teaching them a new way to land! grin

I learned a neat little trick many years ago out in NoDak goose hunting. I set my Honker spread considerably upwind (maybe 50-100 yards) from a large spread of Snow Goose rag decoys, with a fairly large gap between them. If you've ever noticed, honkers and snow geese rarely mingle together in a field.

As I hailed in groups of honkers they would nearly always swing wide downwind of the honker decoys, comfortably cupping up and gliding over the snow goose spread. Interestingly, if we watched the birds in the air, they were never looking down at the snow geese (rags) on their approach. Their eyes were glued to the honker spread upwind ahead! Conveniently, we were concealed in nothing but cheap white bead sheets inside the snow goose decoy spread. They never knew we were there, and as we weren't hiding inside the honker decoys with nothing to cause them to flare, we had perfect shooting at geese and ducks that were cupped and committed gliding gently right over our heads!

This little trick has worked for me countless times over the years, for ducks and geese, even when we didn't have any snow geese in the area we were hunting. The snow flags act as a powerful attractor for any birds even miles off, but once they see the honker decoys, and mallard decoys amongst them, they don't even look at the snow rags anymore. They're dialed in on the bunch they want to set down in, and again, you're concealed inside the group they aren't interested in, but they have to fly over due to an upwind landing approach.

It's a little more work, but the dividends are well worth it.

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Gordie

I was always taught that a tight group of ducks or geese could mean unsure thoughts or almost a panic like state don’t know the best way to explain it but when they are spread out they seem to invite that it is a calm atmosphere. More inviting for the birds.

Again divers can be a bit different than this

Good stuff CanopySam

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gac12

Great post CanopySam those are some great points and definitely something to think about.

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Shane Z

CanopySam- Great read and a tactic i truly bought into last year. Like u said. Setting up in a inconspicous place sush as the sides of the spread or a bit aways will take the main focus off you and your blinds. Our most successful field hunts were done this way. Plus it helps when birfs landans for most right handers a right to left swing is the natural way to swing. Leading birds becomes easier as well.

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Shane Z

Growing up on the Iron Range I did my fair share of diver hunting, but over the years I have gotten out of it for the most part. Does anyone know the specifics about layout boats? Lake Superior is on my door step and I see tons and tons of divers out there each year.

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Lunker

A quick comment on the calling debate. I believe it directly corresponds to hunting pressure most of the time. For example, When I have hunted local birds up on the iron range in rarely hunted locations, I have seen great results when calling. While hunting the Mississippi Refuge system when it's crawling with hunters, even a quack will send birds 180 degrees the other way. Last year the days I did well on the River I barely picked up my call and sometimes didn't at all. I have also seen good results when hunting pressured areas when new birds come into the area. So basically I let pressure dictate how much I call (or if i do at all).

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CANOPY SAM

Lunker. You are probably correct in many situations. However, I've personally seen, when amidst a group (2-3) of very good callers (including myself), ducks and geese circling a slough filled with hunters all calling. When our group started calling the birds immediately locked up and glided all the way across the slough to set directly into our spread.

This was a clear example of really good calling vs. everyone blaring out the same pitch over, and over, and over again. A really good caller, practiced at changing pitch, tone and tamber, can turn birds on a dime, while others are simply scaring them off. I actually felt kind of bad for the other hunters. Practicing with your calls, a lot, can make a HUGE difference in your success.

Another tip I thought about the other day, and some of you may disagree with this, but I've witnessed it too many times in the blind; When to shoot, and when to stop shooting?

As part of my profession as a clinical laboratory scientist I've had the responsibility of collecting blood specimens from literally tens of thousands of people. We have an often unwritten rule with this procedure that you are allowed two (2) attempts, and if by then you haven't "struck oil" you are to stop and get someone else to try. Much of your success at this procedure is based on years of knowledge, experience, and keen intuition. It's not common to get lucky drawing blood. You have to make a good first or second shot, or you might as well hang up your hat. But there is also a high degree of confidence tied to your success.

For 17 years I've made the analogy of shooting ducks to drawing blood. If you can't hit those first couple shots in the morning, it might not be a terrible idea to sit back, take a deep breath, refocus, and for heavens sake don't keep shooting!

I know it can take a few shots in the morning to get dialed in, but my point is more toward the number of shots the average hunter takes at a single, or small group of birds. Once they're in range take an extra millisecond to focus, and take good aim. Fire off. If you miss, jack in another shell, relax, and take another shot if the birds are still within 30-35 yards. If you miss on the second attempt, please, please, please, do yourself, and everyone else within a mile of you a favor, and stop shooting! By the time you get to that third shell the birds are almost certainly out of range, facing away from you, and you'll just going for the hail Mary with a third shot. How often does the Hail Mary really work?

It has SO much to do with confidence. If you're knockin' everything down, and wasting very few shells, your confidence is riding high, and you can start picking and choosing your targets at will. If you're only punching holes in the sky, slow down, take a shot or two, then save your shells. They're too expensive to waste in the first place! Emptying your gun at every bird is only going to kill your confidence, and likely end up wounding and/or crippling ultimately lost birds.

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booger

Going to the range a few times before the season also helps with confidence - skeet, 5-stand and sporting clays are probably best.

To add to your 'when to stop shooting' point - I hit on a hail mary last year. Great shot. Sort of. Until the bird landed out of range (couldn't shoot on the water) and it dove off never to be found. So while I could hit it, maybe I shouldn't have...

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Sifty

Going to the range a few times before the season also helps with confidence - skeet, 5-stand and sporting clays are probably best.

To add to your 'when to stop shooting' point - I hit on a hail mary last year. Great shot. Sort of. Until the bird landed out of range (couldn't shoot on the water) and it dove off never to be found. So while I could hit it, maybe I shouldn't have...

Thats a great tip. The group I hunt with grabs a few boxes of clays and hit the farm for a few hours of fun and it really helps a guy come hunting season.

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Shane Z

I agree with Sifty. Canopy Sam, you make a very valid point, I have learned to cut way way back on my third shots because most all of them wing a bird or is just a wasted shell. There's nothing worse than seeing a bird drift a mile away wounded, knowing you'll never find it.

Thanks for reviving the thread Sam. Great tip

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Gordie

Canopysam you have a great point on the shooting tips, I have gone as far as asking someone to watch me to see where I am shooting so I can dial in faster, because its hard to tell by yourself if your shooting behind or ahead of them ,or stoping and not following thru the shot. Could be many things and its nice to have that second opinion.

I have also done the slow down thing and the deep breath and again I will take it a step farther and only put one shell in the gun to make it a single shot and pick my shots very carefully so I can help myself understand what I am doing wrong .

The above tip has really helped me become a better shooter over the years.

Its something my dad taught many years ago when I wanted the auto loading 22 for squirrel and he said you won't like it because you know the the gun reloads fast enough for a second shot if missed so you are setting yourself up to miss the first shot.. Dam if he wasnt right so I sold my winchestr auto and purchased a winchester 22 bolt action and it really made a difference in my first shot ability. I hope that makes some sort of sense.

Another thing that alot of people do is not focus on one bird in the flock and it is excitement and that will throw your shooting out the window. I try and I'm not always successfull at it, but I will try and focus on one bird until it is hit/folds up before even looking at another bird.

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Stringerless!

No 3rd shots 4 me anymore. Use an over and under now. Still have pump leaning in boat loaded 4 geese though.3 shots for geese.

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mallardnwalleye

Shooting tip-Advice Version 9.76.

Don't think and just point and shoot.

The more you think the more you miss.

If you do think -Think of your shooting a shotgun as though you are throwing a football at the target. You will stay in range and put the right lead on it almost always. I have told people this and seen them go from missing to hitting. It works try it!

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