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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Finding Hidden Duck Holes

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  • photo by Avery Outdoors
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  • Try to get leads on potential areas by talking to game wardens, biologists county agents, etc.
  • Obtain maps of these target areas from USGS topo maps.
  • In an hour of scouting, you can look at a lot of territory, and you will discover places that you never dreamed existed.
  • Truly, the duck hot spot you've been dreaming of might just be over the hill or beyond the next tree line!


by Wade Bourne

Throughout the country, most duck hunting is done in high-profile areas where big concentrations of birds draw large crowds of hunters. Pressure and competition in these areas - both public and private - is typically heavy, and ducks quickly learn to avoid decoy spreads and seductive calling.

However, scattered across the country are thousands of small, isolated, hidden holes which ducks also frequent, perhaps not in large numbers, but large enough to support some quality shooting for enterprising hunters who locate them. These include reservoir backwaters, farm ponds, watershed lakes, beaver sloughs, oxbows, swamps, creeks, wet weather holes and other off-the-beaten-path waters.

These are spots where ducks get used to feeding and loafing without being disturbed. Shooting over them a morning or two a week won't burn them out, especially when the migration is on. Hunters in such places typically don't see many birds, but it won't take many to fill out a limit when they're working close.

The key is finding these spots, then test-hunting them to see which consistently draw birds. Indeed, finding ducks' hidden holes takes initiative, time and some serious detective work. In other words, a hunter must plan carefully, then carry out an on-going and systematic search to uncover such places. They won't fall into your lap! But, they are out there, and hunters who beat the bushes can locate them.

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