4. Joe Fladeland's Pothole Spread
In the prairie pothole country of eastern North Dakota
, the landscape is pockmarked with small wetlands, but not all of them hold ducks. "Up here, it's more about scouting than anything else. Be in the right spot, and you can get away with using a small number of decoys and hiding in the cattails at the water's edge," Joe Fladeland says. "I like to hunt smaller potholes and sloughs where ducks loaf after feeding in the grainfields at dawn."
When he sets up to hunt in one of these midday honey holes, he places his decoys in a loose configuration to look like a group of relaxed, resting birds. "Two dozen decoys are more than enough," he says. "I use Greenhead Gear pro-grade mallards in a variety of body postures, including swimmers, butt-up feeders, surface feeders, and no-head feeders."
Fladeland sets a small group of decoys directly in front of his shooting position. Then he scatters the remaining decoys around the edges of the pothole, leaving an opening in the middle. "I'll also rig a few decoys on a jerk string where I want the birds to land. They'll key on the movement as they're coming in," he says.
One more thing is crucial when hunting prairie potholes
—a good marsh seat. "A marsh seat will not only provide comfort, but also allow you to sit close to the water and down low in the cover, where you'll be less visible," Fladeland says.