Ducks When the Heat is On
"There are two types of warm spells," Hunter Johnson says. "The first is two or three warm days in the midseason. This is just a temporary warm stretch when ducks don't feed as much and are in a loafing mood. When a spell like this comes along, ducks don't burn a lot of energy, so they don't move around as much looking for food."
Johnson finds that when ducks do feed during a warm period, they gravitate to soybeans, moist-soil plants, and invertebrates. And when feeding during a warm spell, ducks are usually in a relaxed mode, scattered broadly instead of bunched up tightly. Typically, there will be several feet between each bird.
To match these feeding patterns, Johnson often changes locations to hunt over the right type of food. He also uses fewer decoys than normal and scatters them. "I'll put 10, 20, or even 30 feet between each decoy," he says. "This presents a contented look that is more natural to ducks in warm weather."
The second type of warm spell is an extended period when there's no change in weather patterns—hence no new birds—for several days running. "The main problem here is that you're hunting the same old educated ducks," Johnson continues. "They've been called to and shot at until they are extremely spooky. So you have to change things up and give these ducks something they haven't seen in a while. If most other hunters are using five or six dozen decoys and a wing-spinner, I may try setting out only a half-dozen decoys and a jerk string. Or, I may add one full-body snow goose decoy for increased visibility instead of using a wing-spinner. I don't think ducks respond to a wing-spinner as well in warm weather as they do when it's cold."
If it's warm and windy, Johnson may take an opposite approach. "When there's enough wind to keep the decoys moving, sometimes we'll put out a massive spread," he explains. "We'll scatter decoys all over the pond. The point is, we experiment with different setups to see what the ducks like best."