Story at a Glance
Some tips to master these five tough shots:
- The Crossing Shot
- The High Overhead
- The Flushing Shot
- The Dropping-in Shot
- Layout Shooting
5. Layout Shooting
Season after season, hunting from a layout blind or sneak boat becomes more popular among waterfowlers. It is easy to understand why. These blinds provide enough concealment for hunters to hide in areas such as harvested agricultural fields that are popular with birds but provide little natural cover.
But the advantages of these blinds come at a price. Because of their low-profile configuration, layout-type blinds make shooting more difficult for some hunters. For one, most hunters find sitting up to shoot a less natural sequence than standing to shoot. In addition, shooting from a sitting position constricts the range of motion in a shooter's upper body and therefore limits how wide he can swing a gun.
As a devoted sneak boat hunter, Goodpaster has learned how to overcome the drawbacks of layout conditions. "When you are sitting down in a layout blind or boat, you have half the lateral movement you would if you were standing up," he says. To compensate for this drawback, he carefully arranges his layout setup. "It's critical to position your decoys and boat so that when you rise to shoot, you are in a perfectly comfortable, natural position that allows you to easily point your gun where you expect the shots to be," Goodpaster says. "In other words, when you position your boat, do not place it directly on line bow-to-stern with where you expect the birds to be, but offset it at a 45-degree angle to that ‘sweet' spot."
For right-handed shooters like Goodpaster, this would mean offsetting the front end of a blind or boat 45 degrees to the right of the sweet spot. "From this position, you have good lateral movement to the left and right and can move the gun smoothly on any birds that decoy well," he says. "This setup should give you a 90-degree arc where you can move comfortably, swing your gun, and execute your shots."
Goodpaster's other piece of advice for layout hunters is to slow it down. "When you sit up in a layout boat or blind, there's a lot going on, with blind doors or other cover swinging open and birds right in your face," he explains. "A high proportion of hunters tend to pop up and want to get shots off as fast as they can instead of smoothly sitting up, mounting the gun properly, tracking the target, and pulling the trigger."
Having hunted in layout blinds in Prairie Canada for a number of years, Cherry also advises layout shooters to take their time. "When you sit up, you are in a rush to mount the gun," he says. "You are coming up on a bird that should be trying to land. So you are accelerating while it is decelerating. Your eyes will be drawn to the fastest thing in the sight picture. When you move the gun a lot faster than the bird is flying, your eyes come off the bird and go toward the barrel. How your hands move relative to a target controls how well your eyes stay focused on it."