"A lot of hunters are missing some great hunting because of the misconception that you have to be out there before daylight and the flight
is early," says Hunter Johnson, an Avery Outdoor Pro staffer from Searcy, Arkansas
Johnson, who co-owns Gumbo Calls, has been guiding waterfowlers for the past 12 years.
Johnson knows his clients. "Most hunters want to be out there early and if the ducks haven't started coming in by 8:30 they think they are not going to and give up for the day," says Johnson. "To be successful you have to be there when the ducks are. We shoot the majority of our ducks between 9–11 a.m."
Johnson feels hunting pressure has caused waterfowl to adapt; avoiding traditional hunting practices.
One of the areas he frequents, in southeast Missouri
borders Otter Slough Conservation Area, a well-known waterfowl destination, where hunting by law requires the hunters to stop hunting by 1:00 p.m.
"The ducks get conditioned to this and by 2:00 in the afternoon, there are ducks everywhere," claims Johnson.
Johnson also utilizes public hunting areas close by but claims, "Early morning resembles a boat race as no one is allowed on the water until 4 a.m. and it's a mad dash to get the choice spots. Many of the areas restrict hunters to 15 shells, but by 8:30 a.m. it's slowed down."
The early morning action is usually glimpses of wood ducks
which arrive much earlier than other ducks and finds hunters with a mite fewer shells than what they started.
"The lull in action forces these hunters, many of whom are inexperienced hunters, to give up and go home," says Johnson. Putting his hunters in these freshly vacated premises often produces a limit in a short time frame, all the while sticking with the required 1:00 p.m. curfew.
"The ducks get accustomed to hunters leaving the area by 11 a.m., and will go in and feed without feeling pressured, giving us a few hours of great shooting." says Johnson.