Until Jan. 28, when the regular waterfowl season ends in Mississippi, duck hunters need to adjust their tactics to be more successful on late-season ducks.
Many things have changed since Thanksgiving, and, like battle-scarred veterans, ducks that are moving down the Central Flyway are more savvy than the bright-eyed newbies that came earlier.
Take a look at these late season tips and work them into your setup when you hit the water this month.
• Less calling, more decoy movement. “We don’t blow the call much at all once we get into January,” said Dave Green, an avid hunter from Union County. “Just a little tap, something that says ‘Come over here and see.’ Something like a quick feed call. That’s all it takes and about all they can stand.”
Torch Tindle, another veteran hunter, said he and Green reduce the number of decoys in the spread.
“Probably the best thing you can do is add natural motion rather than numbers,” Tindle said. “I’m old-school in this regard. Give me a jerk-string over a motion decoy every time. You can put three or four decoys on a string in the middle of a group of maybe eight or 10, and they’ll all look more realistic.”
• Pile on the camo: Hunters are famous for face-painting, mask-wearing, and beard-growing to cover themselves, but what about your gear, your boat, your dog — even the shape of your blind?
“By January, anything with a boxy shape means danger to a duck,” said duck hunter Thom Pratt of Washington County. “Spend extra time cutting branches and limbs, anything natural. From the air, any tarp or cover tends to look boxy and flat. Using 3- dimensional stuff, and lots of it, to hide, is the way to go.”
• Hunt mid-day and late: This might sound more like a deer-season tip, but there’s some sound reasoning behind mid-day water fowling.
“Everyone hunts first light,” said hunter Steve Emery of DeSoto County. “Well, if it’s cold overnight, and your area freezes up, ducks won’t land. It’s better to wait till the sun thaws the ice off. If you’re hunting on the river, that’s also a good time for boat traffic to push ducks around, so it’s worth the effort, either to stay later or go in and hunt later.”