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Cold, Hard Facts

Five ways to bag birds when the mercury dips
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Patience Pays Off

Late-season waterfowl hunting for ducks and Canada geese in central New York can be downright fantastic, says Mike Bard, a member of the Avery Pro-Staff.

The challenge for many hunters, Bard says, is that the birds using the last stretches of open water found among the Finger Lakes along Lake Ontario or the St. Lawrence River and are in no rush to leave for food.
 
"Once the temps get cold, the birds are smart enough to wait until the sun gets up and loosens up the frozen ground," says Bard. "This makes it easier for them to find and get at the waist grains left behind. We just expect to have to wait, possibly into the afternoon, before the birds show up to feed."

Corn, in particular, is the food of choice for late season mallards and honkers in his area, says Bard, and scouting trips usually take him to those fields that have little or no snow cover to impede a hungry duck or goose.

Late-season birds are also prone to spending longer periods of time in the field, he says, and he'll often see them packed tightly together and even on the ground sleeping or resting.

"At this point, I like to mix shell decoys into the spread to mimic what I'm seeing the real birds do on the ground," says Bard. 

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