- photo by Michaelfurtman.com
Late Season, Late Hunt
When Johnson is facing colder conditions with highs in the low 30s, he often lets his hunters sleep in, eat breakfast and get to the blind around 11:30 a.m. Busting ice at this time provides an ideal place for birds to land. Johnson stumbled across this technique by observing ducks in nearby refuges where birds congregated in tight groups at night when temperatures had frozen all other water.
Johnson contends the ducks know there is no other water available so they sit in large groups in the only open water they know. "The ducks sit in this place afraid they will lose their spot due to freezing water, but they have to feed," says Johnson. "Once the temperatures begin rising late morning, early afternoon and their overnight spot is safe from freezing over, the ducks come off their resting place in a feeding frenzy."
The Sun to your Back
Johnson claims little is done differently when setting out his decoys for a late hunt versus an early morning hunt. "We ensure our hunters are in the blind with the sun to their backs. If anyone is going to be blinded by the sun, I want it to be the ducks, not the hunters," says Johnson. "On colder days we will group our decoys a little tighter, later in the season we will spread out the decoys and even begin pairing up a hen decoy with a drake rather than a traditional wad of random decoys."
Hunt Long, Hunt Wrong
During the full moon, ducks tend to feed at night and the birds will rest during the mornings. This tends to produce slow mornings; therefore Johnson prefers to hunt the afternoon during the full moon, as duck activity will pick up as the evening shadows grow.
Johnson has noticed if these areas are hunted all day, it takes 3-4 days of no pressure for that particular blind to recover. Johnson feels the birds must have a time when no one is shooting at them or they will leave an area and not return for days or perhaps even a week.
"I enjoy going to McDonalds, but if I get shot at every time I go, I'm going to stop going," says Johnson. "Ducks are no different. If the birds feel pressure all day they will begin avoiding that spot."
So next duck season, plan on sleeping in a few mornings.