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Strategies for Public Land

Here's how to make the most of public hunting opportunities in your area
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2. Use New Technology

Technological advances have revolutionized waterfowling in many ways. Today's duck hunters can browse websites for updated weather forecasts, river and lake stage information, waterfowl survey data, migration reports, and information about specialized gear and tactics (see www.ducks.org). They can also download hunting regulations, licenses, and detailed topographical maps, as well as communicate with other hunters in real time. The potential is almost endless.
While planning a recent freelance hunting trip to North Dakota, I ordered an atlas of public hunting lands and bought my licenses online from the state wildlife agency. I also downloaded road maps, made motel reservations, and even located several good restaurants by browsing the Web. Thanks to my Internet detective work, my hunting partner and I were able to hit the ground running shortly after arriving in North Dakota, allowing us to maximize our limited hunting time.

New decoys, blinds, and other gear can also tip the scales in favor of public-land hunters. Several years ago, I hunted a large "moist-soil" impoundment on a public conservation area in Missouri. My hunting partners and I hid our boat-blind in a brushy ditch on the edge of the field, but the ducks were working the center of the impoundment where cover was sparse. We had little success attracting birds to our spread, but two other waterfowlers were having a field day. They were hunting from layout boats hidden among patches of weeds in the middle of the impoundment. They had covered their low-profile boats with natural vegetation, and we couldn't see them until ducks pitched into their decoys and they rose up to fire. By acquiring layout boats specifically designed for hunting in a shallow, open-water environment, they could hide and hunt exactly where the ducks wanted to be. Other public-land hunters I know have enjoyed similar success by embracing new duck-hunting technology in the form of mud motors, motion decoys, and GPS units.

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