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First time hunters (advice appreciated!)


Guest Yellowstone

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Guest Yellowstone

Hello. New here but been perusing these Forums for awhile. They are great. I thought I would post to get any input I can about taking my son duck hunting for the first time. He is 13, just turned yesterday, and is excited to go duck hunting, as am I. It's been a bit of a learning curve as I've not gone in about 15 years and with other people as their guest. We bought a 12 foot fiberglass duck boat already camoed up for $200. It is a 1954 Herters and we took it out to make sure it floats yesterday and there are minimal leaks. Ha. Didn't want to invest much until we know we will be duck hunting more often but I think we will. It's a nice little boat and I was thinking of getting a 40 lb trolling motor for it. Rowing long distances is not going to work for me. Ha. We will mostly hunt small lakes and sloughs near our house, so I'm not thinking an outboard is necessary. Plus we can use the trolling motor for fishing.

We have some decoys (14 mallard), camo, and my son's 20 gauge which he has been trap shooting quite a bit with. Going to the local bait shop to pick up the right shot this week and have my son's firearm safety certificate. I guess other than going out there, being safe and having fun (I know its best to quit hunting when they aren't having any more fun on an outing), any recommendations anyone has on getting started duck hunting would be appreciated! We will learn a lot this coming Saturday and on the regular opener I am sure. Thanks!

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Spend some time figuring out where the ducks want to be.  That'll help you the most.  Being equipped is great but even the best equipped hunter will have a tough time staying in the game if the birds don't come around.

Look for the food.  If you have rice in the area, all the better.

Set your dekes close so the birds will get closer for him.  Try to avoid the temptation of letting the birds land and water swatting them though.  You get more cripples and lost birds doing that than shooting them in the air.  The water and wings cover the vitals pretty well and you can't count on getting a bb into the brain or neck.

Be patient.  If the ducks use your spot, they'll get there eventually.

Good luck!

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Guest Yellowstone

Thanks. We have a primary spot picked out where we should see ducks. Its a couple hundred acre lake with lots of cattails and marshland and dozens of wood ducks that we could see from the road. We even quietly launched the boat from the one primitive launch the DNR has set up to make sure the boat was watertight there yesterday. The mosquitos were awful. lol. We had to really douse down before heading out.

Anyway, we saw lots of wood ducks, some pintails I believe, a few mallards and then a couple of geese. I don't think we'll have trouble seeing ducks but getting them in range might be the issue. Most of the woodies are hugging the cattails near the road which I don't want to set us up on. I'm torn on where to set up. The lake is basically an oval with emergent vegetation all around and a peninsula of emergent vegetation nearly cutting it in half in the middle. Any advice on that appreciated as well. One of the reasons I am thinking a trolling motor would be good is we could sneak to a new spot if needed during the morning. And lighter when pulling the boat in and out of the trailer to launch and load. Thanks!

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Builders

Get some wood duck decoys and they will come. Remember youth water fowl day sept 9 go that day

Just don't over call. 

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Guest Yellowstone

Thanks. We probably won't call at all. Hahaha. I have a duck call from way back but I think I'd probably do more harm than good! Marked off some spots on the lake depth map tonight. Ironically, the ducks we've seen have all been in the shallower spots (0-6 feet; lake gets to 12 foot deep max). So we'll concentrate on those areas.

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It's not really that ironic they're holding in 6 feet or less.  That's where wood duck food is.  There and on shore.  

Any oaks on the shore line?  Any normal routes the birds fly in and out of the lake?

Honestly, by the way you describe the lake, you're in.  The only wild card is if you have competition from other hunters who could change the duck patterns.

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Guest Yellowstone

Thanks. I was kind of joking and tired when I wrote. I saw some flying in a corner of the lake this morning on the way to work where i also see them in the water. Might as well start there. There is a good point of cattails there we could sink into. Yes. I don't think many will be out on the lake or neighboring ones Saturday for Youth opener. We'll see. Thanks!

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Builders

Good luck you might want to pick up a wood duck call. They are suckers for that early season. My nephew and I will be sitting on my dads pond. Wood ducks will be the main targets, a few teal, maybe a mallard, and I hope some geese.

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Guest Yellowstone

Thanks both. I sat at the access for an hour this morning before work and watched wood ducks, teal and some geese. An army of coots showed up too. Hundreds of them. Anyway, have a good idea where to set up now and excited for Saturday. I made my son try my camo long sleeve shirt on tonight. That will be his camo mumu or whatever they call those big garbs. lol. Can wear it over his t-shirt and light coat. Will get him his own camo gear if he gets into duck hunting soon enough. Good luck on Saturday Moose.

 

P.S. We picked up steel shot and snacks at the Surplus tonight. I had talked to the owner earlier in the week who is talented competitive trap shooter to ask about the choke my son should have (modified) and what shells he recommended. Anyway, I said, do you know what you need then (to my son) and he went right to the steel shot. "We can't shoot lead," he said. "Let's see, 20 gauge, 2  3/4 is probably strong enough. Not sure what these numbers mean (in regards to BBs." I explained and he says "Ok, a 4 will probably do on smaller ducks." This is exactly what the owner had recommended. Just thought it was funny. He's 13. But he knows better than I would if just starting out at 30 or 40.

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Builders

My brother used number 2's in his 20 gauge. Just make sure you keep the ducks close with 4's. My nephew will be using 3 shot and some tungsten 2 if the geese start flying. I picked up another wood duck call for my nephew. We don't call much but the wood ducks respond well to a call. I also picked up a 6 pack of avian x wood duck decoys and they are so much more life like than my old flambeau wood duck decoys. I will put some line and weights on the tomorrow. I will be using two hens and up right drake.

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Guest Yellowstone

Yes. The owner's son seemed surprised this is what he had recommended. But he said, 4 shot and 2 3/4 early season on teal and wood ducks mainly. He's not a big hunter but he has shot quite a bit at state, regionals, and nationals. He knows his loads and how they handle, etc. So we'll have my son give that a try.

What I am on the look out now is some used floater geese. Looks to be a few resident geese on the lake and have been seeing flocks fly overhead too. That would be cool to mix them in to the spread if that is productive. I laugh because the spread is 7 male and 7 female mallards that I bought new about 15 years ago. They have been hanging in the bag in the garage since then and got a thorough cleaning this past week to get the dust off. lol.

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You can buy single floater goose decoys at Fleet farm if you don't want to invest the money in 6 or 12 decoys.  That is the only place that I can think of where you can buy the decoys individually.  There you can buy 1 or 6 or however many you want.  Just make sure to look at the price of them individually compared to what 6 would cost.

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Builders

Way to go!! Congrats on the cinnamon teal! Them wood ducks can be hard to hit. 

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On 9/8/2017 at 9:11 AM, Yellowstone said:

Yes. The owner's son seemed surprised this is what he had recommended. But he said, 4 shot and 2 3/4 early season on teal and wood ducks mainly. He's not a big hunter but he has shot quite a bit at state, regionals, and nationals. He knows his loads and how they handle, etc. So we'll have my son give that a try.

What I am on the look out now is some used floater geese. Looks to be a few resident geese on the lake and have been seeing flocks fly overhead too. That would be cool to mix them in to the spread if that is productive. I laugh because the spread is 7 male and 7 female mallards that I bought new about 15 years ago. They have been hanging in the bag in the garage since then and got a thorough cleaning this past week to get the dust off. lol.

4 shot is what I use on those early season teal and woodies.  Granted I'm shooting 3 inch loads from a 12 gauge but those birds go down harder than when I'm shooting 4's.  They're smaller birds so more pattern density trumps shot size for me.  I move to 3's when teal sightings wane, then 2's when I'm expecting mallards and divers.  Some divers are small too but they have thick feathers you need to get through.  Plus 2's can be ok for close geese.  I prefer BB though if I'm expecting mostly geese.

Keep your woodies and geese separated in your spread if you plan to "mix" them in. You'll find mallards and geese mingling but in my experience woodies and geese don't mingle well.  Divers either.

Thanks for posting your report!!  It's great to see pics an read the stories!!  Congrats on getting your son excited about going out; it's pretty cool to watch kids get stoked about the outdoors.

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Guest Yellowstone

Thanks both. I figured I will carry heavier loads for geese in my 12 gauge when we can start hunting together. Will study up more on decoy placement and such as we go here if we get some more. But beside building a homemade blind (been seeing the ones people make out of pvc pipe), I should get a pair of waders that doesn't leak. Have my father in laws old set. Makes it easier at the launch as I had some water spill in over the top of my knee high waterproof bowhunting boots. Poor me. Ha.

Like you said, I am just excited that he is excited. And its something we really love doing together.  It really helped to see so much action and actually hit one. He could have shot some coots too but there were lots of wood ducks around them and I told him to hold off until we were ready to leave and I would scare them up.

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