8 Tips For Bagging Leary Late Season Ducks

Submitted by Wayne Heady

As we all know, as your holes are froze up and you bust ice normally before a hunt. That sadly is the dreaded late season. Many people give up duck hunting for the year because of the often unbearable cold temperatures, and most people don’t even end up filling their duck tote up like they previously did in the early season. I’m going to give some late season tips I have learned, and actually put to use which have proved to be successful this year.

Don’t use a big spread!

This time of year the ducks are highly pressured and have been shot at a few times. You need to throw out only 6-18 decoys in a spread. This time of year they are skittish and big decoys spreads will scare them, because that’s all they saw during the early season.

Use and L or J formation in your spread

Use an L or J formation for your spreads this time of year, because like I previously said they have been pressured heavily when you do this make the bottom of the J or L curve in towards the bank and give the ducks plenty room to land.  This will make them land in the hole in the center I like to call the “kill zone” but they feel more secure because of the decoys on the outside. Don’t ask me exactly why, but it works!

Keep your hole open

This time of year the ducks are flying around in big groups and looking for open water to feed and roost. Most of the time the ponds where most of the puddle ducks like to go are frozen so they find the closest river or big lake that usually has to be cold for a long time to freeze. They will stage up, Until they can find an open hole. If they fly over your hole and discover that it is open they will flock to it! Many people use ice eaters to keep hunting holes open this time of year because usually if there are ducks there it won’t scare them. And it definitely beats busting ice in freezing cold temperatures. No one likes icy waders!

Find A Natural Food Source

My favorite places to hunt are the ones I scout that have natural food sources there for them. Most of the time ducks aren’t there for no reason. Many times it has proved successful for me to hunt mudflats, and shallow water where duckweed grows like crazy. The puddle ducks love shallow water and they are dabbers so duckweed is one of their major food sources. So when you scout look for a natural food source and 9 times out of 10 you’ll find em.

Don’t call too much

This time of year calling should be sparse unlike early season when you’re constantly hammering on calls. Use just a whistle or an occasional quack.

This time of year I have found that they like to circle your spread numerous times before they like to land and during this don’t even think about touching a call.

Keep your gun clean

This time of year ice is common on your gun which will normally cause it to jam up. So will a dirty gun jammed up from congested gunpowder. Throwin it down in the mud or getting mud in the breach is a big no no too. This time of year shooting is mostly rare unless you’ve got the right set up and you’re where they wanna be. But if you get mud or debris in your chamber it can prove to be very unhealthy for your gun. It can jam up or even get damaged which is the last thing anyone wants, because it can be a little pricey to fix a broken gun sometimes.

Stay Hidden

This time of year it is key to have good camouflage and stay hidden. Use face paint or face masks. Most of the time a camo gun makes a difference. And on your blind use a ton of natural camouflage so they feel comfortable around it. Because 10 times out of 10 if they don’t like it they will leave. Little movement when ducks are around can help you stay undetected too.

Shoot straight

Everyone hates hitting ducks and then them not going down. Many people just throw the gun up and shoot. It can work if you’re a magic shot but most people sadly aren’t. First of all calm down when shooting see how far and how fast the duck is flying before you judge your lead that you need to have on him. Focus on the sights instead of getting the entire view of the bird. This time of year I have found that they usually stay in the 40 yard range. So Use extended chokes for long range and modified for close range everyone already knows this but I hope these tips help increase your success in what we have left of this 2017 season.