6. Improve Your Reaction Time
Hunters who shoot trap, skeet, or sporting clays during the off-season sometimes develop a "high mount handicap," according to Patrick Flanigan, a Winchester exhibition shooter who lives in Wisconsin. "High mounts, where you start the firearm at the shoulder in a ready position, are great for competition shooting, but they're not typical for hunting," he says. "Your reaction time is crucial to making a successful shot in the field, and if your mind and body aren't accustomed to mounting the gun from a low position, you're less likely to knock down birds. So train yourself in the off-season for reaction time and form. Start with your gun in a low mount position and work on raising it to a comfortable high mount position after you see the target."
7. Downsize Late in the Season
Maryland Eastern Shore guide Tom Marvel typically hunts every day of the goose season. Late in the season when geese become decoy-shy, Marvel has success by switching to small spreads of ultra-realistic full-body decoys. "It's important to buy and use the best decoys you can afford," he says. "Personally, I use Greenhead Gear full-bodies. As the season progresses, show the birds something different from everyone else and cut your rig back to 12 or 18 decoys."
8. Run an Ice Eater on Cold Nights
Avery Outdoors pro-staffer Frank Bacon uses an Ice Eater, a machine designed to keep ice from forming around boat docks and marinas, in conjunction with a small generator to keep water open on cold nights. "We keep the Ice Eater attached to a custom stand made by Mallard View Outdoors. This stand controls the water flow in whatever direction we choose and has adjustable legs for water depth as well," Bacon says. "This is a great way to keep an open hole in a flooded field, slough, or anywhere else you hunt that is likely to freeze up. I run it all night with an oversized tank in shallow fields. The generator is very quiet, and it gives you a nice open spot to hunt the next morning."