By John Pollmann

Waterfowl hunters are challenged to find techniques which keeps them one step ahead of the birds, but sometimes the solution can come in the simplest of forms. Here are 10 hacks that every waterfowl hunter can use to work smarter, not harder and put more birds in the bag.

Jerk String Storage Solution

Using a jerk string is a great way to add motion to a decoy spread, and Pennsylvania hunter Kevin Addy has come up with an effective way to keep everything organized before and after a hunt.

"I keep my jerk string rig in a six-slot decoy bag, with the decoys still attached to the line, which is then wrapped up and stored along with the anchor weight in an exterior pocket," says Addy, an Avery Pro-Staffer. "This is easier than having to find all the different parts while trying to set up for a hunt. I know everything is in the six-slot bag, and I even went as far as to keep it in a camouflaged bag, which is different than the all of the others in my boat."

Drop the Weight

During Missouri's teal season, Tony Vandemore often finds the early migrants feeding in shallow wetlands that are choked with vegetation. Instead of fighting with decoy weights and lines in the thick cover, this long-time guide and co-owner at Habitat Flats chooses to keep things simple.

"The majority of my teal decoys don't even have weights on them," Vandemore says. "I just throw a bunch of them out, and the wind will kind of blow them or bunch them up in little channels or openings in the vegetation.

"At first it might look strange to see little pockets of decoys, and even some decoys touching, but it actually looks extremely realistic. When you see teal feeding in these shallow wetlands, there are often little groups of birds bunched together where there is food."

Full-Bodies in the Shallows

The same shallow wetlands that hold teal in the early season will also provide opportunities for pintails, mallards and other larger ducks later in the fall, but Vandemore says that sometimes the water is so shallow that the keels on traditional floating decoys limit their movement.

"I'll place full-bodied duck decoys just above the water's surface in these situations, as they're able to catch the wind and move, whereas the floaters might not move at all because they are touching the bottom," Vandemore says. "It's an easy fix, and it also helps create motion in the decoy spread. That's a win-win."

Layout Blind Base Layer

Addy has also found a way to save time when concealing a layout blind by adding a base layer of Avery Killerweed or other durable, synthetic grass designed for waterfowl hunting. Bundles of the grass are attached with zip-ties to the stubble straps, leaving room to add natural cover from the field.

"Instead of having to brush the entire blind, you only have to add bundles of the surrounding cover to really make the blind disappear," says Addy. "I'll even carry some spray paint to change the color of the base layer based on the kind of field I'm hunting and the time of the year. This is a real time saver."

Help for a Floating Motion Decoy

For Addy, duck hunting in deep water doesn't mean leaving the motion decoy at home, but it does mean taking a different approach when adding a floating spinning-wing decoy.

"When a floating motion decoy is anchored in one place, it tends to flip over a lot, especially if there is a lot of wave action, so I don't attach an anchor and instead, using a longline clip, connect it to a loop of line that is attached to the back of a keel of another decoy," says Addy. "Since the floating motion decoy is not anchored to the bottom, it rides along the top of the water so much better and rarely flips over."

No Stakes, No Problem

Setting out several dozen full-bodied duck decoys can be a time-consuming task before a field-hunt for mallards, which is why veteran South Dakota guide Ben Fujan likes to remove one step of the process when conditions allow.

"I'll leave the decoy stakes in the trailer and place the full-bodies on corn stalks instead, making sure to leave space and position the decoys in different directions," says Fujan. "Unless the corn was combined too high, the stubble is usually at the right height. It saves a lot of time before and after a hunt, and even the youngest hunters can help out this way. And when the ground is frozen, this method is a whole lot easier than dealing with decoy ring bases."

Power Up

In an effort to save time, Wisconsin hunter Tyler Heuttenrauch uses a small, cordless hedge trimmer to make quick work of cutting cover use to for concealment. The trimmer can create a pile of grass or grain stubble for layout blinds in seconds, and also works well when cutting brush for a makeshift blind along a marsh, river or other waterbody.

"There's no need to pull out grass or stubble and deal with the clump of dirt that comes with it, which can make a muddy mess," says Heuttenrauch. "And you can find one of these trimmers for relatively cheap. It's an affordable, easy way to better conceal your blind in less time."

River Vision

Rivers like those found in western Nebraska can provide tremendous late-season duck and goose hunting opportunities, but veteran hunter and Avery Pro Staffer Doug Steinke has learned that the cold waters can also hold a number of dangerous obstacles under the surface.

"This is why I recommend to those hunting on the river to wear a pair of polarized sunglasses," Steinke says. "They make it possible to see things that are not visible with the naked eye, and they also help you judge water depth, which can keep you out of some scary situations."

Blind Bundles

Before each waterfowl hunting season, Avery Pro Staffer Mike Anderson constructs "bundles" of grassy cover that he uses to further conceal hunters in his boat blind while chasing ducks and geese in Minnesota.

Using electrical tape, 3-foot wooden dowels and bunches of reeds or other grass, the bundles are placed where needed to fill gaps in the concealment. The stability of the dowel allows Anderson to use them as needed for several hunts.

"You can stuff them in where you need the help blocking the sun, and they are great for keeping hunters' faces shielded while tracking birds," Anderson says.

An Answer for Frozen Ground

After struggling for years with getting the stakes for motion decoys into frozen ground while field hunting late-season mallards in western Nebraska, North Platte Outpost Guide and Avery Pro Staffer Ross Juelfs has found a solution that is cheap and easy.

"We use a cordless drill with a big masonry bit that costs about $20 at the local hardware store. The diameter is the perfect size to handle the stakes from the motion decoys," Juelfs says. "You can drill ten holes in about 30 seconds and slide the stakes right in. It is really, really slick."