While predictions for this winter’s weather tend to vary, one consistent tip for killing lots of ducks involves hunting on the Mississippi River. 

Duck guide Phillip Cagle of White Oak Hunting Service in Tunica said the best place to be when the weather turns cold and inland impoundments freeze over is the Mississippi River.

“When everything else freezes, the ducks go to the river,” said Cagle. “It doesn’t even have to be a hard freeze, if it freezes overnight and stuff thaws by noon, the ducks will hold on the river then move back inland.”

First and foremost, Cagle said anyone venturing out on the Mississippi any time, but especially in the winter before daylight needs to have a healthy respect for the dangers inherent with that much flowing water. He hunts the river from boat blinds and his ability to hide the boat will depend upon the prevailing water levels in the river.

“It the water is up, it will push back into the surrounding tree cover where it’s easier to hide a boat blind,” he said. “If it’s low, you’re going to be stuck out in front of sand banks and it’s harder to hide. But if the ponds and sloughs are frozen, the ducks are going to be on the river by the thousands.”

Cagle said the best way to find the better hunting spots is to ride the river the afternoon before you plan to hunt. He said the river might only hold a few ducks in a couple of spots and then you’ll come around a bend and a thousand will get up.

“Mark that area and look for the closest place to hide a boat,” he said. “Usually that’s a flat around an island or it can be the entrance to a little drainage creek or slough. Then you have to get back to that spot well before daylight and get your boat set up and your decoys out before those birds come back to that area at daylight.”