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Duck Hunting on a Budget

Enjoy high-quality hunting without breaking the bank
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Budget-conscious hunters shouldn't rule out hunting on private lands. Good shooting may be available to those who find landowners willing to grant hunting permission. This is especially true after heavy rains push backwaters into croplands or pastures that aren't normally flooded. Ducks throng to such "new water," and some landowners will grant hunting permission. You'll never know until you ask.

Also, don't overlook private ponds and watershed lakes. Small waters can draw surprising numbers of ducks. Glassing from public roads is the best way to find these places. True, some landowners will turn you down, but others might grant hunting permission.

Float-hunting is almost a lost art, but sometimes small rivers and streams can hold good numbers of ducks. This is especially true during a freeze, when shallow wetlands are locked up and the birds shift to moving water.

One other point: you don't have to be in the heart of the flyway to experience good duck hunting. In fringe areas, ducks may be fewer in number, but hunting pressure will also be reduced. As a result, a hunter who finds a few ducks outside a popular flyway might have them all to himself.

Budget Blinds

I've hunted from duck blinds whose owners had invested small fortunes on electricity, plumbing, full kitchens, and even lounge areas. But these features certainly weren't necessary for hunting success. Many of my best hunts have come as I've huddled in brush, leaned against trees, or sprawled in muddy fields or on sandbars. In other words, a fancy blind or pit is a wonderful amenity but not a requirement for duck hunting success.

To the contrary, hunters can disappear from the birds' prying eyes with only a minimal disbursement of dollars. Highly effective blinds can be constructed with a few poles (cut your own), some camo netting, plastic zip ties, and natural vegetation.

Natural vegetation can provide the best of all concealment when it comes to avoiding detection by circling ducks.

Indeed, one of the best blinds I ever had was one a partner and I constructed in shin-deep water in a flooded soybean field. We drove four corner poles, attached shooting rails across the front and back, and then stacked long bushy oak branches teepee-style against the rails. Circling ducks never saw us as we huddled beneath the brush.

A layout blind is another excellent option for budget-minded hunters. Some initial investment is required, but a layout blind's twin advantages of mobility and full, fast concealment more than justify its cost. Layout blinds can be used in open fields, mudflats, sandbars, and other spots where ducks like to work and hunters without layout blinds have difficulty hiding.

Then there is the no-blind (and no-cost) option: concealing yourself in natural cover. On-site cattails, saw grass, willow trees, tree trunks, and other natural vegetation can provide the best of all concealment when it comes to avoiding detection by circling ducks. Just remember, you need cover overhead as well as in the front and back. Also, a marsh seat or shooting stool is handy for lowering your profile and saving your back as you hunker in natural cover.

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