Duck Hunting Tips: How to Successfully Hunt Ducks

Hunting ducks instructions
Written by Shawn Harrison

Duck hunting is simply the process of tracing waterfowls, including ducks either for sport or for food. In most countries, this activity is considered to be an outdoor sporting activity and is prohibited at commercial levels in western nations. Today we will try to provide you with the most relevant duck hunting tips that will help you improve your hunting skills and become a pro.

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First of all you should know that this is not an easy outdoor activity. There are various things that you need to observe in order to be successful. But we have good news: it doesn’t really matter whether you are experienced or not.

With the right guidelines, you will be able to build your skill and you will be an expert in no time. By the time you are reading the conclusion, you will be fully equipped to hunt ducks among other waterfowls.

What You Need for The Hunt

Before you can engage the “how to steps” for shooting ducks, you first need to know what you need for the hunt. This information includes duck basics, hunting gear, and any other relevant information.

Duck Basics

You need to know the various species of ducks and be able to identify them correctly when you are in the field. This kind of information is very useful to you as a birder and a hunter, because you cannot hunt what you do not know.

With correct knowledge of the various species, you will be able to know the endangered species and the ones that you can shoot down without any repercussions.

Mallard Duck

The most popular duck species that you must be familiar with, especially if it is your first time to hunt ducks, are:

  • Mallard Duck. These are the world’s commonest species, which can be located in New Zealand, Southeast Australia, North America, Asia and Europe. They have short tails and the males do have curled central tail feathers for attracting females. Their wings are covered in long flight feathers. They have eyes on the sides of their heads, which are resourceful for detecting marauders, even from behind.
  • Paradise Shelducks. Also referred to as parries, these ducks are common in New Zealand, from sports fields, urban parks, farms and wild areas. These ducks are a bit larger than normal ducks, but not larger than geese. The females of this species are the ones who are colorful. The males do have attractive textures in their plumage, but they lack the exceptional chestnuts of the females.
  • Grey Ducks. These ducks are common in Australia and New Zealand. Males as well as females are the same and they are lightly similar to the female mallard ducks. They have dark grey bills with a black tip. Their upper body feathers are brown with a narrow buff edge without central markings. Their wings have a green speculum with a thin white line on the rear edge. Also, the top of their heads is nearly black.
  • Shoveler Ducks. Also referred to as the Northern Shoveler; this species breed in northern parts of North America, Asia and Europe. It is the only species with the oversized bill that it derives its name from. The males are slightly larger than the females during the fall season and they are considerably larger in spring. The brighter colors of the conjugal plumage in spring contribute to some of the visual differences.

Hunting Gear

Successful hunts are largely determined by the gear you bring along. You should match the gear with the venue.

Duck hunting gear

Normally, what you bring has to contribute to the primary purpose, which is a successful duck hunt. The most useful gear you should have includes the following:

  • Decoys: These are imitations of ducks that you can use to lure ducks close. They are made of plastic or wood and are painted to appear like ducks. You are required to set them in the proximity of your blinds. They can be stationary or moving. Moving ones are referred to as roboducks. Good decoys should have front weighted keel design; non-chip paint, rubberized molding and imitate feeding ducks.
  • Shotgun: The ideal shotgun for shooting ducks should have a rifled barrel and scope. Suitable ammunition is very important. Rifling in the barrel imparts spin to the slug, thus stabilizing as well as increasing accuracy. You should choose a properly configured shotgun for effectiveness. You should consider a 12-gauge shotgun. Even though, almost any shotgun with an open choke can be convenient, the best choice is one that has your desired features and specifications. Do read our reviews of the best hunting guns to get you started on your adventure.
  • Duck Calls: These are useful for attracting ducks into your blinds. Most calls are designed from wood and they have a small reed inside. A duck call’s operation is simple; whenever you blow the reed vibrates into the call. The best model should be able to make loud hail calls as well as soft nasal Your duck call should be able to mimic the soft flexible tissue of a duck’s tongue and neck.
  • Hunting Clothes: Ducks, unlike any other waterfowls, have very good eyesight. They can easily spot you hiding in the reeds along the edge of a lake if you are wearing the wrong attire. You must camouflage yourself by wearing concealing clothes. You should look for camouflaging pattern that matches your hunting blinds when choosing facemasks, gloves, hats and jackets. You have to go with green camouflaging pattern if the plant life is green. You should go with the brown camouflaging pattern when plant life is not green. For a review of the best hunting clothes for you to choose from, read our earlier piece on this all-important topic.
  • Footwear: Duck hunting footwear is important, because of the wet and muddy environments. The most recommended footwear is hip boots and waders. They will ensure you do not get wet and muddy. The footgear has to fit tightly at the ankles, or else they can easily pull off when you are walking on mud. Duck footgear will always come in handy when setting up decoys in flooded fields or shallow water. Make sure you choose footwear that will not be filled with mud and debris. In addition, they should be warmer and comfortable to wear. Check our list of the top hunting boots to make the experience more comfortable.
  • Binoculars: Optics is necessary if you are to select the best hunting areas.

Long distance glassing of ducks needs exceptional binoculars.

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The binoculars you buy should present you with the following features: twenty-feet close focusing distance; stunning HD clarity; four hundred plus feet field of view at a thousand yards; durable design; twelve-millimeter eye relief; and high magnification, at least 7X.

Step-by-Step Duck Hunting Guidelines

Now that you know the basics and the various gears you need for the hunt, you can go ahead and learn how to duck hunt.

Step 1 – Scout Potential Hunting Spots and the Prevailing Species

You have to scout for potential hunting grounds and identify the dominant species. To do this, you need a reliable topographic map of the area of interest along with a plat book that indicates land ownership. Spend some quality time looking for ducks on water or in the air.

You probably need a pair of binoculars for spotting waterfowls from a distance, especially when they are in the air. You will also be able to spot hard-to-see fowls that are swimming in vegetation or along shorelines.

Scout Potential Hunting Spots

Most puddle ducks are usually active in early morning and in the evening. Therefore, these are the recommended times to scout. On the other hand, diving ducks tend to stay in close proximity to their feeding sources. Thus, you can scout for them at any time of the day. Always determine the depth of the water; you can use your footwear for this, such as waders.

Step 2 – Check If the Land Is Private or Public

Check your plat book to confirm ownership of the land. If your potential hunting ground is on private land, then you will need permission from the owner. If the land is private, politely introduce yourself to the owner and ask for permission.

When asking for permission, be very specific as far as the section of the land is concerned. You should always remember to ask for permission for any subsequent hunts you wish to conduct. Do not make any assumptions.

Step 3 – Determine the Best Blind Spots

For your hunt to be successful you need to choose good blinds. You should establish blind sites with respect to different wind conditions. There are different blinds that you can find.

Determine the Best Blind Spots

Usually, the best blind spot is natural vegetation. You may have to make a blind by cutting vegetation or set up an artificial version if there is no vegetation around. A bank of a small pond can also be a reliable blind, especially when tracing around swamps and marshes. Also, your blinds have to blend well with the surrounding environment.

Step 4 – Set Up Decoys for Diving Ducks & Use Calls for Puddle Ducks

Set up your decoys within shooting range. The number of decoys you can set depends entirely on the size of your hunting area. You should place enough decoys to increase the chances of luring ducks.

You should place your decoys less than nine meters away from your blind spot. This way, it will be harder for you to give up your cover. Ducks have the tendency of landing in open areas; therefore, you must consider wind conditions.

Use calls

You are advised to set up your decoys at locations where the wind is at your back. This is so, since ducks are used to land into the wind. Ducks will spread their wings before they land. The mechanism is simple; the wind helps them to land by blowing against their wings.

Avoid direct sunlight, because sunlight will make it easier for the ducks to spot you and it will definitely make it harder for you to see the ducks.

Calling ducks take practice and you may not be able to successfully call ducks in the beginning. However, practice makes perfect. To use a duck call, hold the uncovered end of the thin tube in the web of your forefinger and thumb. Then place the other end of the call to your lips. Then blow into the mouthpiece while opening your fingers as the pressure builds up behind them in order to create a quacking sound.

Step 5 – Shoot Your Target

Once the ducks are within shooting range, go ahead and take the shot. The most recommended firearm for this activity is a shotgun. A shotgun can withstand the worst situations and weather conditions that might occur during hunting. You can choose your desired shotgun with respect to the bore diameter (gauge).

There are three bore diameters you can choose from, which are: 20-gauge, 12-gauge and 10-gauge.

Shoot the ducks

The recommended diameter for duck hunting is 12 gauge shotguns. However, you can opt to experiment each of the gauges to see which one will work best for you. There are no guesses when it comes to shooting or else all your efforts would have been for nothing. You need to be able to adjust your angle of shooting with respect to the ducks’ flight speed.

The most practical technique that you can use is the swing-through. This technique requires you to hold your shotgun with one hand behind the trigger and the other hand under the fore stock.

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Your hand that is positioned beneath the fore stock should raise the barrel and your other hand brings the end of the shotgun to your shoulder.

You should swing your shotgun in order to aim ahead of the ducks in their flight path. At times, you may observe that ducks are not flying your way. When this happens, you may have no choice but to reposition your blinds.

In Conclusion

Hunting ducks is easy as long as you have the correct information and gear. Since you may face challenges if you do not have the correct tips to guide you, we provided you with more than enough tips for the most important and crucial information about ducks and the best hunting gear. The “how to” steps are discussed in detail so you should have a successful hunt.

Duck hunting prize

You do not need much to be an expert duck hunter, all you need are the tips provided in this article. Do you think we have left out any crucial tips? If so, please let us know in comments.


Shawn Harrison

Shawn Harrison is our expert in hunting. He was born in Alaska, so hunting was his hobby since high school. Later, Shawn took a Hunter Training at Alaska Department of Fish and Game to structure his knowledge and now he is open to share his knowledge with our readers. Shawn is taking ‘Safety First’ approach on all of his trips, especially is some people are going hunting for the first time.