Do you spend time scouting or working on getting permission to hunt other areas this time of year, and what do you recommend others do to improve their hunting spots?
During the summer months, I find myself spending a great deal of time working on my permanent duck blind
and making improvements for the upcoming seasons. Brushing the blind, replacing rotten boards and making things more functional all play a role in preparing for the next season, so you are not scrambling to accomplish your goals at the last minute or while the season is underway.
This is also a time of the year when a man can "dream" of all the things he wants to add to his gear to be more successful. Or hunts he would like to plan for the coming year. I think that one thing that makes waterfowl hunters unique is that they are always dreaming about the what-ifs and future hunting trips, always looking for that golden area to find and hunt. Waterfowl hunters are dreamers that always want to perfect what they do, and find new areas and ways to do it. During the off-season, I find myself doing a lot of dreaming, planning and working to accomplish those dreams.
I spend time scouting this time of year to locate broods so I can narrow down my scouting efforts for early-season hunts. Early hunts are usually local birds, and knowing where the concentrations are now will help you find them just before the season starts.
This is also a great time of year to talk with private landowners about permission or mutually beneficial wetland-management strategies.
Along with maintaining relationships with farmers during the summer months, I like to check crop rotations and get an idea of what fields will be cut and ready for Sept. 1 or the November regular-season opener. Along with checking on farms where I already have permission, I like to look for new spots and obtain permission before the mad rush. One good tip to find new hunting spots on both public ground and private ground is to use a tool like Google Maps to look for hidden marshes or water. You will be amazed at what you can find, and it can really help you find a little-known spot for early-season wood ducks or late-season mallards.
Can you think of anything you do during the off-season that's unique and keeps your mind on waterfowling?
One thing that I find enjoyment in is working on my farm for the wildlife. I work on providing nesting cover for the ducks, geese, pheasants and other animals living on my property. Planting and spraying the grasses on my [Wetlands Reserve Program
] acres and working to make my property the ultimate waterfowl area is very enjoyable to me. I spend countless hours working on habitat projects on my property, and see many ducks utilizing it for nesting. I am fortunate to live in an area that produces ducks
, and find enjoyment in helping them have quality wetlands and nesting areas on my property.
To keep my mind on duck season this time of year, I keep a countdown on my calendar for the last Saturday in September. I also visit my list of mistakes my dog made during the previous hunting season that still need correcting (breaking, ignoring hand signals, etc.) and work with the dog to correct these problems. I tune in to DU-TV or watch old episodes.