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Going Public for Ducks

Here's how to make the most of public hunting opportunities in your area
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  • photo by Scott Jones
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Virtually every state has public waterfowl areas, and many draw large crowds and heavy pressure. Others, however, receive less pressure than many would think. And in some heavily hunted public areas, there are sections that are overlooked or days when pressure is lighter than others.

You get the picture. Public hunting areas can frequently offer excellent shooting for hunters who know the ropes—and the territory.

The following tips will help you bag more birds on public marshes in your backyard.

Go early. Many hunting areas are open on a first-come, first-served basis, and waterfowlers who get there first claim the best spots.

Go on weekdays. Hunting pressure is usually heavier on weekends. If you can, go on weekdays when competition for birds is lighter.

Go after an area has been rested. Many public areas are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays to give the ducks a rest and then reopen on Wednesdays. Hunting is usually better after a break in hunting has allowed birds to return to a more normal routine.

Focus on hunting open-water areas. Ducks will often feed and raft in wide-open areas, away from trees or brush lines that can hide hunters. Use forms of concealment that will help you hide in these spots: layout boats, coffin blinds, shallow pits, etc.

Be mobile. If you see ducks working somewhere else, be prepared to move. Waders, a small boat, a portable blind, an ATV, a decoy backpack, a shotgun sling, a GPS, and other gear can figure into enhancing mobility.

Be patient. On some heavily pressured areas, ducks become programmed to fly later, after many hunters have gone home. Don't quit too soon. Stay out at least past noon, or as long as regulations allow.

Keep mum. This isn't being stingy; it's plain common sense. If you find a good place on a public area, don't broadcast it. Instead, guard the secret and enjoy it as long as you can.

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