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Banding Together for Waterfowl

10 Shooting Tips for Waterfowl

Shoot better and enjoy your hunting more with these tips up your sleeve
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  • Make sure your shotgun fits your stature and mounts naturally before opening day.
    photo by Chris Jennings
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Story at a Glance
  1. Make sure your shotgun fits
  2. Practice shooting in the preseason
  3. Don't get in a hurry
  4. Shoot one bird at a time
  5. Shoot the trailing bird in a flight
  6. Rely on instinct to calculate lead
  7. Don't stop swinging
  8. On long passing shots, lead more than you think you need to
  9. When waterfowl are coming head on, blot them out and fire
  10. Attend a shooting school

1. Make sure your shotgun fits

A shotgun should flow naturally and smoothly to the shoulder, cheek to stock and master eye looking straight down the barrel. When a shotgun fits, the transition to this shooting position is second nature. The barrel automatically becomes an extension of the shooter's line of sight.

Take your shotgun to a gunsmith, and let him check its fit against your physique. If it's a misfit, he can make stock adjustments so it will rise and point naturally.

2. Practice shooting in the preseason

Too many duck and goose hunters leave their shotguns in their gun safes until opening day. Then they wonder why they can’t hit anything. The easy answer is, they're out of sync.

This problem is easily corrected with some pre-season shooting practice. A dove field is one of the best possible training grounds for waterfowl hunters. Doves present the same relative angles and distances as ducks and geese, and because of the liberal bag limit on doves, shooters get to practice these shots repeatedly.

Shooting sporting clays is another practice option. Contact a sporting clays manager, and ask if you can come and choose certain stations to shoot over and over. Select those stations that are most relevant to waterfowl hunting: in-coming ducks, overhead geese, springing teal, etc. Stay on a station until you’ve mastered it, then move on to the next. Such repetition locks in your mind the right sight picture for breaking targets consistently. This transfers to your waterfowl hunting.

3. Don't get in a hurry

A key reason for missing ducks and geese is shooting too fast. Some hunters think they have to shoot quickly before the birds flare out of range. The truth is, when hunters wait that extra second or two when waterfowl are coming in, then rise up to shoot, there's plenty of time to take three deliberate, well-spaced shots before the birds get too far away. Consciously slow your pace. Don't be jerky when mounting your shotgun. Don't rush your shots. Try not to compete with your hunting partners. Just take your time, and focus solely on hitting your target.

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