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Warm-Weather Duck Hunting Tips

Ducks and geese change their habits during warm spells. So should hunters.
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During a warm spell, a more likely scenario is for the wind to tail off to a light breeze or nothing at all. "This is a duck hunter's worst nightmare," Johnson says. "If I'm hunting from a permanent blind or pit, I'll figure out some way to add motion to the decoys. I'll set a couple of Ice Eaters or Mallard Machines in my spread to make ripples on the surface. Or, if I'm freelancing and hunting over a portable setup, I'll rig a simple two-decoy jerk string. There has to be movement. If the surface of the water looks like a sheet of glass, you're done."

When it comes to calling, Johnson thinks less is better during a warm spell. "When I have spread out my decoys, I mainly use contentment calls—single quacks, light chatter, and short three- to five-note greeting or comeback calls," he says. "Sometimes you still have to get the birds' attention, but once they start working, I call very little—just enough to give them confidence that everything is okay."

Ducks don't move around as much in warm weather as they do in the cold, so hunters must figure out when they are moving and be ready to hunt during those times. "Although ducks will typically fly early and late in the day, I have seen them fly in the middle of the day in heavily pressured areas," Johnson says. "My best advice is to spend time scouting. Drive by refuges and check to see what the ducks are doing. Hunt during times of peak activity, and set your decoys to match how ducks are sitting on the refuges. And remember, you won't get any shooting lying on the couch at home or in the clubhouse. Hunting isn't usually as good during a warm spell, but it can still be a lot better than many hunters realize."

Hunting Warm-Weather Honkers

"During a warm spell, Canada geese change their feeding habits," Tyson Keller says. "When it's cold, geese key on corn, beans, and other high-protein crops. But during a warm period, they shift to vegetation such as winter wheat or green shoots in fallow fields or plowed grainfields with low stubble."

In cold weather or warm, Keller scouts extensively to find where geese are feeding. He says it takes only a day or two of warm weather for the birds to shift from "hot" food to green forage. He moves his hunting setup as soon as he notices the birds making this change.

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