By John Pollmann
From ice and cold to wind and rain, nothing influences a hunt for ducks and geese like the weather
. And while Mother Nature may be in the driver's seat when it comes to the forecast, a waterfowl hunter doesn't have to just be along for the ride. The following tips from waterfowl hunters across the country will help you handle the worst that Mother Nature throws your way.
Snow and Cold
Avery pro-staffer Ben Cade actually begins to smile when the snow starts flying over central Minnesota
. The same cold front that moves wind and snow through the area usually brings with it a trickle of fresh Canada geese, Cade says, and those birds that have been giving him problems over decoys
in the field in recent weeks finally start to play by the rules.
"Fresh snow seems to change the way the birds view the landscape, to the point where previously stale birds become willing to decoy," Cade says. "The cold and snow usually force geese to feed longer as the days get shorter, too, which works really well for hunting. And the snow really helps improve the visibility of the decoys; it can be our best hunting of the season."
Decoy spreads should reflect this change in behavior, Cade explains, and he will put out more sleeping- or resting-style decoys in order to imitate what he observes birds doing when there is snow on the ground.
Cade says sky conditions seem to affect when Canada geese
begin to lift off the roost to feed. When the skies are clear and the temperature low, Cade often will not start hunting until mid-afternoon, while a low ceiling of clouds usually puts him in the field by shooting light.
Regardless of the time of day, he says that hunting in the snow always requires proper concealment.
"Snow covers – or snow spray, depending on how much snow is on the ground – are a must for layout blinds and dog blinds. Everyone needs to be properly camouflaged to be successful," Cade says. "Even wearing a white skull-cap instead of a dark-colored hunting hat can up your odds of success."