The birds know best
There's a fine line between duck hunting and bird watching, but there are times when a hunter really needs to watch more and hunt less. When a morning's hunt isn't going as planned, turn an eye to the sky – the answer to your problem might be closer than you think. In the case of this pasture hunt, it became quite clear that I was not where the birds wanted to be. After several flocks had flown over, I quickly made my way to a hill where I could see the mallards piling into a stock pond several hundred yards away within the same pasture.
As I glassed the area, I could see several mallards enjoying the morning on the water and dozens more loafing along the edge of the stock pond. There was no way that I could have known that the mallards were using a loafing area when I discovered the birds the night before, but by abandoning my plan and watching their morning activity, I had pieced together an important part of this duck hunting puzzle. With the stock pond full of content mallards and no major changes forecasted for the weather, I elected to head home, grab some gear and hunt the pond the next morning.
Have gear, will follow
There are more options available today than ever before in terms of gear that help hunters adapt to changing conditions. Low-profile layout blinds – like Avery's popular Finisher Blind – provide concealment for the hunter without disturbing the natural appearance of the area. From harvested soy bean fields to river sandbars to stock ponds surrounded by bare pasture, these low-profile blinds can help hunters reach birds in areas that would otherwise be impossible to hunt.
Boats are no different; the Fatboy DP from Momarsh is one of several low-profile boats that both conceals the hunter and melts into the natural outline of the marsh. Whether in the field or on the water, the tools are available to allow the hunter to adapt to the conditions and be where the birds want to be.
Worth the wait
The steam was still rising from my first cup of coffee the next morning when I saw the mallards returning from the field. With my head slightly lifted out of my lay-out blind, I could see the birds fly directly over the flooded pasture and begin to make their descent upon the stock pond. After one swing out in front of my decoy spread, a lone drake dropped from the group and centered on the pocket directly in front of my blind.
With one shot I folded the big greenhead and barely had time to retrieve the duck before the next group of mallards emerged from the skies. Yes, change can be good.