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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Five Tactics for Late-Season Ducks

Follow this expert advice to end your season on a high note 
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  • photo by BillBuckleyPhotography.com
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5. Take Advantage of Changing Weather

Ducks can get "stale" during the late season, but a sudden change in the weather can stir the birds up, improving hunting prospects dramatically. For example, Avery Outdoors pro-staffer Travis Rowlett of Fallon, Nevada, watches the weather forecast for storms that will bring high winds to his region. When one of these storms approaches, he heads to nearby Lake Carson because he knows that when the wind kicks up, the ducks will fly.

"When a storm system moves in off the Pacific Ocean, it slams into the Sierra Nevada Mountains and dumps its moisture on the western slope in California. But the wind pushes over the mountains and down the eastern side into Nevada," Rowlett explains. 

"Lake Carson is a shallow marsh with a lot of cattails. When a windstorm comes in, the ducks will fly the edges of the lake, looking for quiet areas where they can ride out the blow. So my hunting partners and I boat or wade in ahead of the storm and set up in a protected spot. We know that when the wind kicks up, the action will pick up with it."

Rowlett adds that high winds can also break up ice cover on the lake, opening up new resting areas for waterfowl. "High winds can tear up a lot of ice in one night," he says. "The next morning is another prime time to go hunting."

But even in favorable weather, it's vital for hunters to be mobile and versatile. "If the birds aren't working your spot, pick up and move to where they're flying," Rowlett advises. "Get up and move quickly. Don't stay where you're not getting any shooting and watch ducks work somewhere else."

The same strategies Rowlett uses in Nevada will work in other parts of the country and in other types of weather, including snow, rain, low clouds and fog. Changing weather conditions can spur a flurry of activity in waterfowl. Hunters who study how the birds respond to these conditions and react accordingly will see their slow hunting turn fast in a hurry. 
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