The following is part of a series on avoiding crowds on public lands. Next up: Deer Hunting.
If you’ve spent any considerable time hunting ducks or geese on public lands, chances are good you’ve either been sprayed by the guy across the pond or had Johnny-Come-Lately set-up way too close for comfort. Let’s hope you haven’t experienced anything like this boat race in the “Duck Capital of World.” Doesn't that make you want to go duck hunting?
While crowding on public wetlands and waters can be common, there are many opportunities to avoid the crowds that waterfowl hunters often overlook. Many of the suggestions outlined in the related post on elk hunting hold true as well (see walking the extra mile).
In this blog-post from Ducks Unlimited, identifying less-traditional public waters is recommended. For example, most waterfowl hunters first think of Wildlife Areas and National Wildlife Refuges as duck and goose hunting areas. However, state and county lands, BLM/USFS lands and lakes or reservoirs with public access can also offer excellent, often-overlooked opportunities.
On larger non-motorized wildlife areas, walking or biking the extra mile can often yield high rewards. Most duck hunters aren’t willing to walk much more than a mile with decoys on their back, so pack light and you can make the hike (or bike) that others won’t. Some hunters will even pull decoy carts on dikes to reach far-out waters.
Growing up, we used to find small public ponds that were too small to show up most major maps, or which were too small to draw any major attention. These ponds often have more vegetation than larger deeper ponds and while they may not attract the masses or roosting ducks, they’re often hot-spot for feeding birds.
What’s your secret for avoiding mobs of duck hunters? Please share.