11. Specialize in Wood Ducks
(Skip Short, Georgia)
In some beaver ponds, cypress brakes and marshes, wood ducks are the predominant species, and hunters should tailor their decoy spread and calling specifically to these birds. On the 10-acre beaver swamp where he hunts in central Georgia, Skip Short sets up to four dozen wood duck, mallard, and teal decoys, and he uses a wood duck call to draw passing birds' attention. "When wood ducks are flying through the timber, they hear the call, come to investigate, see the decoys, and usually drop right in," Short says.
12. Pontoon Boats for Small Waters
(Jim Ferguson, Great American Outdoor Trails Radio, Kansas)
One- and two-man pontoon boats convert into great portable duck blinds for small ponds, slow-moving streams, and backwaters of larger lakes. A pontoon can be carried in the bed of a pickup truck, launched virtually anywhere, and powered by an electric trolling motor or by rowing. It can be camouflaged on site with netting and natural vegetation. A pontoon offers stable shooting, comfortable seats, and plenty of room for a retriever and decoy bags. "You can paint a pontoon boat in camo and fashion your own blind," Ferguson says, "or some companies offer factory-made blinds that adapt to their boats. Either way, a pontoon is great for hunting hard-to-reach spots where ducks go but other hunters don't."
13. Cover Spinning Wings On Cloudy Days
(Billy Blakely, Blue Bank Resort, Tennessee)
On cloudy days, encase wings on wing-spinner decoys in brown pantyhose. Stretch the pantyhose over the wings, and then gather and attach them with twist-ties to the wing shafts, where they enter the body. This cuts down on the flash as the wings spin, and it presents a much more realistic visual representation of a duck's wing motion on an overcast day. "Trust me, this really makes a difference on cloudy days," Blakley says. "I've tried two wing-spinners set a few yards apart, one with the pantyhose over the wings and the other without. The ducks all want to go to the one with the pantyhose."
14. Fly Balloons for Snow Geese
(Mark Hoke, Avery Pro Staff, Maryland)
When hunting snow geese over a large field spread, use white helium-filled balloons to add movement to the spread. Balloons and a small helium tank can be purchased at a party story for nominal expense. Hoke sets a spread of approximately 700 snow goose shells, silhouettes, and full-body decoys, and he enhances this spread with about 40 balloons. He ties a two- to four-foot length of monofilament fishing line to each balloon, and then ties the other end of the line to a decoy on the ground so the balloon floats above. He deploys the balloons on the downwind edge of his spread to look like geese that are hopscotching over birds in front of them to feed. "These balloons will give you a lot of movement with even a one- or two-mile-per-hour wind," Hoke says.