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Banding Together for Waterfowl

15 Veteran Tips for Waterfowlers

Veteran share their secrets for better hunting.
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12. Hunt a Traffic Field

Goose guide John Cristinziani says it can be difficult to hunt on the "X" all the time because fields full of geese are the first to attract other hunters. But setting up in a heavy traffic field, where birds often fly over but don't necessarily sit, can be the next best thing. "Scouting is the name of the game, but if you can't find a field filled with feathers, watch geese in the air to see which travel routes they're using to and from the roost," Cristinziani says. "Set up the biggest decoy spread you can in those traffic fields and use your calling skills to bring birds down."

13. Take it Slow in a Layout Blind

Rising to shoot from a layout blind presents challenges to good shotgunning form. Brandon Crowley, an avid layout blind hunter from Minnesota, says hunters must remember to take their time. "Be patient," he says, "and remember that shooting form is the most important part of making the shot. Lift yourself using your elbows with your hands on the gun, get the stock on your shoulder and your cheek on the stock, and always keep everything you need in front of you. Also, choose a comfortable blind with plenty of room for your hands."

14. Think Ahead for Your Boat Motor

Go-Devil's Warren Coco says hunters shouldn't wait until opening morning to crank their outboard or mud motor for the first time since last season. "Smart guys run their motors a couple of weeks in advance to be sure there aren't any problems," he says, "and they store their boats with a full tank of gas and fuel stabilizer." Coco, who is a DU Diamond Life Sponsor, doesn't leave shore without a few tools to get him out of a jam if something goes wrong. "I always have a Leatherman in my pocket, as well as a pair of channel locks, screw drivers, wire cutters, and a roll of tie wire. Also, a small propane torch can be a lifesaver in cold weather. You can use it to free up frozen starters or other parts, and it can start a fire, even with wet wood, in the event someone gets wet."

15. Make Diver Spreads Species-Specific

Certain diver species can be finicky about fully committing to decoys. "Some divers definitely like to sit only with their own kind," says Tim Bouchard, an Alaska sea duck guide. "If we're hunting buffleheads or goldeneyes, for example, we use only bufflehead or goldeneye decoys. And a lot of our success comes from the arrangement of our spread. For buffleheads, we set several little pods of five or six decoys, and for goldeneyes, we put out a big raft. If we're hunting bluebills, we'll usually have three dozen bluebill decoys in a J-pattern with a line of goldeneye decoys off to the side."

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