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New to duck hunting #8080588 12/08/20 04:39 AM
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Alright guys I’ve been hunting deer, dove, Turkey, hogs my whole life but never been duck hunting. Our new deer lease has about a mile of the Colorado river with several sloughs coming into the ranch. I’ve been seeing a tons of ducks all over the water so I am thinking its about time to see what it’s all about. I had a few questions for you seasoned duck hunters

1. What is best way to learn how to identify different species? I have been reading/studying pictures online but I feel like I wouldn’t be able to identify them while flying in. Any websites or book recommendations would be great.

2. Will I need a ton a decoys or will just sitting on the bank work for now? I always jump toms of them when I walk down to the water.

3. Which species is worth eating? I am A big “kill it you cook it” guy so I need to know which ones are worth targeting.

Thanks guys and obviously any other pointers are greatly appreciated.

Re: New to duck hunting [Re: jcneef] #8080625 12/08/20 05:53 AM
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1. You really won't get good at identifying them in flight well until you get experience. You'd also ideally want to hunt with someone experienced for the first few times. With that said there are some guidelines you can follow. Luckily the few that have lower limits on are the easiest to distinguish. Pintail, red head and canvasbacks. Really study those. There are others listed on the photo below, but I've found pintail, redhead and cans to be the most likely ones you'll encounter. Wood duck is pretty easy to id

Cans are pretty obvious. They have a large red head/neck and white body. They are a big duck and have bill that is also pretty distinguishable if you'll look at some photos. Limit 2

Pintails have a longer neck than any other duck and the white stripe that comes up the neck and onto the head is pretty distinguishable. In my area they also really like to circle and not commit. You can pick out the pintail feathers as well. Limit 1

Redheads are easy to identify but somewhat hard to explain. They obviously have a bright redhead as the name implies and a grey body. Body shape is similar to a ringer but you'll know the difference because they have a much lighter body. Ringers also have a very distinguishable contrast is color from the dark wing and lighter belly.
The hens are much harder to identify and I don't think anyone can tell one apart from a ringer hen in flight. You should assume any hen with a drake is that same species. Limit 2

Your other species for the most part all have a combined limit of 6 except mallards. Mallards are easy to identify though.

You can use your phone to double check yourself after you've shot one.

Ducks typically fall into two categories: divers and puddle ducks. Divers generally like deeper water and as their name implies, they dive for food. Puddle ducks generally like shallow water and feed at the surface.

2. If at all possible find where they are coming in at and be there waiting for them before they get there. Get in and settled about 30 minutes at least before shooting time. This is often the most enjoyable time for me. You can relax, enjoy a cup of coffee and listen for the wings, whistles and quacks as they start pouring in. Ducks in general roost in one place and feed in another. You shouldn't even need decoys if you know where they want to be. However, I always have at least a half dozen out. It could help you pull in a few that might not want to be right where you are.

3. Duck is nothing like chicken or upland birds. If not prepared correctly you most likely will not like it. Go to honestfood.net and there is everything you need to know about how to prepare and cook duck properly. I really suggest following some of those recipes but I also like to make duck poppers as well just like a dove popper. If only taking the breasts you just peel back the skin and cut out the breasts.

In general your puddle ducks are better eating and divers are not as good.

However, there are exceptions. A canvasback is considered a diver duck but in my opinion is the best eating duck there is.

[Linked Image]

Last edited by BradyBuck; 12/08/20 06:18 AM.

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Re: New to duck hunting [Re: jcneef] #8080648 12/08/20 09:50 AM
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Learn the calls of each duck, that will help you identify them sometimes even before you see them.

Re: New to duck hunting [Re: jcneef] #8080673 12/08/20 11:53 AM
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This is the best fast reference/ID book one can have for ducks. It'll help you familiarize yourself with all of the common ducks and how best to ID them on the go. It's printed on waterproof paper and small enough to fit into your blind bag. I highly recommend getting one and keeping it with you.

https://www.gundogsupply.com/lemmetwatidb.html

Re: New to duck hunting [Re: jcneef] #8080930 12/08/20 02:49 PM
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The best way to learn to identify ducks is to let them land and do not pull the trigger until you know what you're shooting. Sounds like you've got places where they want to be - throw out a few decoys (if it's where they want to be you don't need many - if any honestly)...hide very well - don't call. Let them land. Identify them. And then shoot. That will keep you from getting yourself into trouble.

The book above is an excellent guide.

Any waterfowl hunter that's hunted more than a season or two should be able to identify most common ducks around here in flight.

Re: New to duck hunting [Re: jcneef] #8081037 12/08/20 03:47 PM
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I second honestfood.net. Good site.


No matter how high a duck flies a hammer still breaks a window.
Re: New to duck hunting [Re: jcneef] #8081061 12/08/20 04:04 PM
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thanks guys ill pick up that book and get to studying.

Cochise you mentioned letting them land and then shooting them. I always wondered if it was legal to shoot a duck while on the water. I always seem to see everyone shoot them just before they land but i guess letting them land is fine?

Re: New to duck hunting [Re: jcneef] #8081085 12/08/20 04:20 PM
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I’ll just go ahead and say it. Chances are you will make a mistake identifying or if you and some buddies hunt you’ll shoot a volley and have one over the limit. so be prepared to push one in the mud every so often. It’s stupid to let good meat go to waste but it is what it is.

I once asked a GW if that was to happen if I could just let them know and give it away at the dock to someone and he said sure if you want a ticket.


“Two things that define an individual what you do when you have everything, and what you do when you have nothing."


Re: New to duck hunting [Re: jcneef] #8081127 12/08/20 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by jcneef
thanks guys ill pick up that book and get to studying.

Cochise you mentioned letting them land and then shooting them. I always wondered if it was legal to shoot a duck while on the water. I always seem to see everyone shoot them just before they land but i guess letting them land is fine?


Nothing illegal about it. Nothing unethical about it.

Some people may not think it's "sporting," but if you're just getting into the sport it is the easiest and safest way to be certain what you're shooting - which will prevent the highly illegal and unethical advice from Jorge from happening. IMO.

Re: New to duck hunting [Re: Mike Honcho] #8081130 12/08/20 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by jorge
I’ll just go ahead and say it. Chances are you will make a mistake identifying or if you and some buddies hunt you’ll shoot a volley and have one over the limit. so be prepared to push one in the mud every so often. It’s stupid to let good meat go to waste but it is what it is.

I once asked a GW if that was to happen if I could just let them know and give it away at the dock to someone and he said sure if you want a ticket.


That's terrible advice. I've been duck hunting for 20+ years and I've never had to push a bird into the mud.

Re: New to duck hunting [Re: Cochise] #8081139 12/08/20 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Cochise
Originally Posted by jcneef
thanks guys ill pick up that book and get to studying.

Cochise you mentioned letting them land and then shooting them. I always wondered if it was legal to shoot a duck while on the water. I always seem to see everyone shoot them just before they land but i guess letting them land is fine?


Nothing illegal about it. Nothing unethical about it.

Some people may not think it's "sporting," but if you're just getting into the sport it is the easiest and safest way to be certain what you're shooting - which will prevent the highly illegal and unethical advice from Jorge from happening. IMO.



Yes I would rather let them land and shoot them if I cannot 100% identify them in flight.

Re: New to duck hunting [Re: Cochise] #8081180 12/08/20 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Cochise
Originally Posted by jorge
I’ll just go ahead and say it. Chances are you will make a mistake identifying or if you and some buddies hunt you’ll shoot a volley and have one over the limit. so be prepared to push one in the mud every so often. It’s stupid to let good meat go to waste but it is what it is.

I once asked a GW if that was to happen if I could just let them know and give it away at the dock to someone and he said sure if you want a ticket.


That's terrible advice. I've been duck hunting for 20+ years and I've never had to push a bird into the mud.


100% agree. Way to respect the resource. Glad I don't hunt with guys like you.

Re: New to duck hunting [Re: Mike Honcho] #8081344 12/08/20 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by jorge
I’ll just go ahead and say it. Chances are you will make a mistake identifying or if you and some buddies hunt you’ll shoot a volley and have one over the limit. so be prepared to push one in the mud every so often. It’s stupid to let good meat go to waste but it is what it is.

Quite possibly the worst advice I've seen on this forum, and there's been plenty of jackassery over the years.


Re: New to duck hunting [Re: LarryCopper] #8081377 12/08/20 07:56 PM
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Originally Posted by LarryCopper
Originally Posted by jorge
I’ll just go ahead and say it. Chances are you will make a mistake identifying or if you and some buddies hunt you’ll shoot a volley and have one over the limit. so be prepared to push one in the mud every so often. It’s stupid to let good meat go to waste but it is what it is.

Quite possibly the worst advice I've seen on this forum, and there's been plenty of jackassery over the years.


From an "outfitter" nonetheless.

Re: New to duck hunting [Re: Cochise] #8081412 12/08/20 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Cochise
Originally Posted by LarryCopper
Originally Posted by jorge
I’ll just go ahead and say it. Chances are you will make a mistake identifying or if you and some buddies hunt you’ll shoot a volley and have one over the limit. so be prepared to push one in the mud every so often. It’s stupid to let good meat go to waste but it is what it is.

Quite possibly the worst advice I've seen on this forum, and there's been plenty of jackassery over the years.


From an "outfitter" nonetheless.

Just noticed in another thread the "outfitter" thought a bufflehead was a goldeneye. Explains a lot.


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