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Forecast Your Duck Hunting Success: Weather Matters


One area I often hunt is in the bend of a small bayou. When the water's up, it runs across the inside bend of timber. This creates a three-acre sanctuary of unfrozen water right in the middle of the frozen pin-oak bottoms. During winter's worst weather, it's wall-to-wall ducks.

Most avid hunters work unfrozen river channels during frigid weather. They boat the river until they scare up a flock of ducks, then they move in and set up where the ducks flushed. Often, decoys are set in strings at the edge of willows, high banks and other sheltered spots. The boat is hidden in cover with a camouflage net stretched over it. The hunters stand in waders next to trees. The ducks they flushed will soon return, and when they do, the fun begins.

Snowstorms & Fog

When visibility is limited by fog or heavy snow, callers have a field day. In this situation, it pays to keep your call sounding whether you see ducks or not. Poor visibility may keep most ducks grounded, but those that are caught en route automatically set their flaps and start listening for friendly calls. Few duck hunting moments are as exciting as hearing unseen mallards answering a call in fog.

Snow Cover

Cold alone won't drive ducks from an area where food is plentiful, but if snow gets several inches deep or becomes glazed with ice, ducks must move elsewhere to find their groceries.

Here again, it pays to know where ducks are likely to go when conditions get bad. If woods remain open and acorns are plentiful, ducks accustomed to feeding in fields may gather in flooded timber when snow piles up. Cornfields are so attractive, they may continue drawing dense concentrations of birds even when blanketed with snow. Hunting diving ducks like scaup and buffleheads often remains productive even though mallards and other dabblers have been forced to move out.

The smart waterfowler matches hunting tactics to the weather throughout the season. By applying scouting techniques and a little reasoning about duck behavior, he develops an instinct for determining where and how to hunt no matter what’s going on outside. Blue skies or gray, the odds are in his favor.

Keith Sutton
15601 Mountain Drive
Alexander, AR 72002


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