5. Touch Up the Rig
When it comes to decoys, duck hunters fall into two categories: those who enjoy repairing and repainting decoys, and those who simply buy new ones to replace the shabby or sinking decoys in their rig at the end of the season. Whichever camp you fall into, now is the time to get your decoys in working order.
If you're in the "buy new" category, place your order as early as possible; the big catalog companies sometimes sell out of decoys quickly and have trouble getting more in stock.
Hunters who repair and repaint plastic decoys should first remove weathered paint with a stiff brush. Then seal any pellet holes with epoxy, and paint the decoy with a good primer. Herter's sells decoy paint kits for most species, and Wing Supply (800-388-9464) offers Parker decoy paints, an old favorite of many waterfowlers.
In addition, be sure to inspect your existing rig for dry-rotted or frayed anchor lines. With new decoys, buy top quality decoy cord and take care in tying your knots. Some hunters prefer tying the cord to large snap swivels and then attaching them to the keel and anchor. With plastic decoy lines such as Tanglefree (800-982-4868), tie to the keel using a tight double overhand knot, or try the company's special plastic clips designed for this use.
Related: More Decoy Tips & Strategies
6. Revive Your Retriever
Hard to imagine that same yellow dog sprawled on your kitchen floor was just months ago an awesome force in the duck marsh. He will be this season, too, with just a little summertime work.
Retriever Training Tips & Strategies
Dog Training Videos
A primary concern should be getting your pup in peak physical condition. Long walks and lots of water retrieves will help keep him toned up through the summer. Water work not only serves as excellent exercise, but also keeps your dog enthusiastic about retrieving.
During hot weather, land drills are best done late in the evening. If you are working a trained, experienced retriever, focus on drills that reinforce steadying, lining, hand signals, and multiple retrieves. Try to build up the time you spend on land drills gradually; too much at once can dampen a dog's fervor for his work. Just 30 minutes of drills every evening are enough to put most retrievers back on the road to glory.
In many states, September seasons for doves, teal, and resident Canada geese offer great early opportunities for your retriever to get back in action. Summer temperatures often prevail well into September, so remember to take plenty of fresh water afield for your dog, and to allow him to cool off in the water or shade occasionally.