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First Florida solo duck hunt

HookinFishHookinFish JupiterPosts: 23 Deckhand
Went out last weekend to hunt.  Thought I had a nice spot  for ducks. The coots liked it but no ducks where seen nearby. Not sure what I should be looking for any pointers would be appreciated. I made a short video of my trip. Will try again next weekend. Thanks for watching. 


Replies

  • Cast_N_BlastCast_N_Blast JaxPosts: 1,437 Officer
    Bunch your decoys up closer to each other and get them a little farther out away from you. 
  • PinmanPinman Posts: 2,650 Captain

    Its tough out there. Afternoon hunts make it even tougher. You can no longer just go to an STA and expect ducks. You need up to date intel.

    A guide I know of on Lake O has his bag down 60% from last year....and last year was BAD.

    I told one of my main hunting buddies yesterday as we stared at duckless skies for 2 hours we were going to need to re-evaluate our methods and strategies.  We managed a Mottled and 2 Blackbellies apiece.

  • bowhunter4lifebowhunter4life Posts: 1,498 Officer
    Sleep in and go snipe hunting instead.
  • meateatermeateater south flaPosts: 517 Officer
    your set up looked good to me only thing i would change is hunt somewhere with ducks.  me and a buddy got skunked at a1 feb       did have 4 teal buzz me while i was fighting a 6lb bass.    guys hunting 2or 3 hundred yards from us never fired a shot but said they enjoyed watching me slay the bass with shotgun over shoulder.   sat for 3hrs before i started fishing. heard some shooting in the distance buy not alot.
  • Big MakBig Mak Posts: 3,374 Captain
    edited December 2019 #6
    The best advice I have is to try putting yourself where the ducks want to be!  That alone can overcome any of your own set up shortcomings.

    I think your set up was ok as well. You just didn't have enough ducks around in general...  A problem we've all been having.

    Couple things I do with my decoys is I start them farther from my hide than some might think practical. I don't want the birds looking at a decoy that's 5 to10 yards from where I'm sitting. It makes it more likely that they will pick me off, especially later in the season. I also tend to deploy them in  flocks, like family groups, but that will depend on what I'm seeing. I almost always throw a few (or 1) farther down wind (35-40yds from my hide) from my main spread like they/it just landed and are/is swimming into the main body (20-35 yds from where I'm hunting). That generally marks the limit of where we shoot. Leave a good sized open area (or 2 or 3) so that the ducks are directed into that "kill zone" as they approach. That also depends how many guys are hunting with you. Everyone gets a zone to shoot for safety reasons. You swing your gun unsafely across anyone's bow, you don't get invited back. .

    Match your hatch! Coots work for everything but mix and use what you expect to see. Coots also typically get thrown in closer to my blind/grass line than my duck decoys... I also believe in a little LOOSE species segregation. Duck species will certainly mix but in my experience they aren't typically mixed together like a hodgepodge checkerboard. To me, that gives off the appearance of a  random and unnatural clusterfudge. For example, If you have half a dozen redheads, keep them together or bunched 3 and 3 somewhere, not just farted in randomly throughout the mix. There is wisdom in the old adage, "birds of a feather flock together".

    Throw your spread to capture the benefits of the wind, current, or any shoreline feature. Ducks treat swimming like flying. They aren't happy wasting energy while trying to survive. Think aerodynamics and hydrodynamics and put them together so that it compliments the ducks approach, landing, and resting requirements. In other words, don't make it difficult for them to get to you and settle in for a visit. 

    I don't generally pack my decoys tightly together on the water, and I can't stand when I have two that are bumping into each other. Tight herding, flocking, and schooling  is a natural reflex in the animal world usually indicating nervousness or fear... (Note however, Coots will bunch up in a feeding cluster like this at times though.)

    Having said this, there are also times when I'm hunting bigger water or targeting a specific species/goal where I'm using 100 or more decoys and the family bunch tactic will be discarded in favor of a larger, connected congregation of content/loafing birds, but still exhibiting some LOOSE species segregation. No one shoe size fits all scenarios, so stay flexible.

    Have fun and don't be afraid to experiment. When you find something working, ask yourself why. If something isn't working, ask yourself why it's not. Don't sky bust. Be patient! I love hearing all the googans firing fast and furiously before they can see adequately. The object isn't to kill a limit before everyone else and race back to the ramp to post kill shots on Facebook.  Instead, sit quietly and wait patiently so you and your mates can pick off decoying birds. It's not a race and many times the birds will settle in and behave once the initial googanfire ceases and they are busy picking up and chasing down their cripples. I can't tell you how many times we've held off shooting until almost 0900 at some of the more popular duck venues in FL. The bigger birds will settle in and work so much better when there isn't a bunch of blasting going on all over the place. If you feel good about your set up and are confident about the areas duck numbers take a chance and hold off a little. Let the surrounding thunder of inexperience fizzle out and watch how the birds settle down and work into your spread. I know it's fun to shoot 4 boxes of shells but it's even more fun when you can do it with less than a box!  

    Take all this for whatever it's worth. I used to be pretty good at duck hunting but the past few years I think I forgot everything I knew because my results have been far less than stellar, but, I also don't sky bust everything I see with 3.5 inch BBs either.

    Couple final things...  Don't crowd your neighbor unless you have worked something out with him, and don't blast at out of range birds that are working another guys spread. Know your shooting limitations and be honest with yourself about it. A little courteous behavior goes a long way to advance the sport in the right direction.

  • Delta DuckmanDelta Duckman Posts: 56 Deckhand
    I didn't see any spinners in the spread.  I usually use two of them in all of my set ups.  But, if you don' have ducks in the area 100 spinners won't help.  It has been a real struggle this year for many even over here in south Louisiana.  Good luck.
  • duckmanJRduckmanJR Posts: 20,736 AG
    It is my opinion....that spinners are great opening week on young of the year birds who have not seen one....but that all the migrator birds have be "educated" all down the flyway.... It gets packed up and put away after week one.

    I see some videos where the hunters do not seem to notice birds are flaring off their spinner.... 
    There are many roads to travel
    Many things to do.
    Knots to be unraveled
    'fore the darkness falls on you
  • duckmanJRduckmanJR Posts: 20,736 AG
    I think Mac hit on something key....that I see missing in many.

    Know what your gun and load are capable of.....Forget all the silly hype about " Extended range chokes" and
    " Heavy hammer shot" nonsense....because all that does is cripple birds or drop them so far away that recovery is improbable at best. Choose the spot you want the duck to fall where it will not fall in the middle of a sawgrass island or thick bullrushes etc.... A kill window.  If the bird gets out of it...stop shooting!!!  
    I had a young fellow tell me one time he "killed" 14 ducks...so he could find 6.... Rediculous.  
    There are many roads to travel
    Many things to do.
    Knots to be unraveled
    'fore the darkness falls on you
  • duckmanJRduckmanJR Posts: 20,736 AG
    edited December 2019 #10
    A tip that is easy to do...till you get "The Eye"

    Take a survey stake....measure 120 feet of string and wrap around the stake... When you pick your blind location....unwrap the string and put the stake in the mud...Take 1 decoy and walk it to the end of the string....that is 40 yards....place the decoy and go back and roll up the string.... Set your decoys at about half way...a nice easy decoying bird shot. 

    Now you know anything over that outer decoy is in killable range....

    After a while....you'll get " The Eye "....and will know your ranges....but till then... 
    There are many roads to travel
    Many things to do.
    Knots to be unraveled
    'fore the darkness falls on you
  • Big MakBig Mak Posts: 3,374 Captain
    Agreed. Shooting one duck and finding one duck is exponentially better than shooting  two or more and finding one.... 
  • HookinFishHookinFish JupiterPosts: 23 Deckhand
    I was having second thoughts on my spot and was considering jump shooting birds but also didn't want to encroach on other hunters. I did see where the birds where going so next hunt I will try that area. But the birds might be in a different area next time too. What plants are they feeding on?  There are plenty of snails and fish around but any particular feed for the ducks here?
  • Big MakBig Mak Posts: 3,374 Captain
    If you can find hydrilla, you should find ducks. Eel grass, Chara, Illinois pond weed, and smartweed are always a good bet too. Most submerged vegetation attract leeches, fish, snails, and other edibles. The thicker, the better. Look them up online then look for them in the water.
  • OGBOHICAOGBOHICA floridaPosts: 212 Deckhand
    Hey I found hydrilla on okeechobee so did 399 of Chet's buddies as well :) good posts here, heck I never used nothing more than #8's as a kid never walked more than 50 ft to get a bird.
  • JonsredfishinJonsredfishin Posts: 2,107 Captain
    edited December 2019 #15
    OGBOHICA said:
    Hey I found hydrilla on okeechobee so did 399 of Chet's buddies as well :) good posts here, heck I never used nothing more than #8's as a kid never walked more than 50 ft to get a bird.
    And you probably didn’t post about it on the internet with your internet friends lol. 
    One president put a man on the moon.
    Another president put a man in the Lady's bathroom.
  • HookinFishHookinFish JupiterPosts: 23 Deckhand
    Thanks for the info. Hunted ducks in California but it was a different ball game, different birds too. Where I hunted blinds where made and had to be hunted from. The STAs here let you roam around and build your own blind which is nice but posses different sets of challenges. Will continue researching and hopefully I will get out this weekend. I was drawn for A1 Feb on Friday so we shall see how things go. Thanks again for all the help.
  • Reel TealReel Teal Posts: 3,927 Captain
    At the sta you really just need to adjust and go off what your eyes tell you. The whole place is relatively the same everywhere. If i found any public area that looked like any corner in the sta i would hunt it around me.

    To me its like a golden corral for ducks. Food and tables everywhere but for some reason everyone keeps going to the steak line or the ice cream line. Also certain ducks like to use landmarks in flight. 
  • meateatermeateater south flaPosts: 517 Officer
     gotta think WWRD     
  • PinmanPinman Posts: 2,650 Captain
     meateater said:
     gotta think WWRD     

    Go Deer hunting? B)
  • PinmanPinman Posts: 2,650 Captain
    edited December 2019 #20
    Thanks for the info. Hunted ducks in California but it was a different ball game, different birds too. Where I hunted blinds where made and had to be hunted from. The STAs here let you roam around and build your own blind which is nice but posses different sets of challenges. Will continue researching and hopefully I will get out this weekend. I was drawn for A1 Feb on Friday so we shall see how things go. Thanks again for all the help.


    Don't be in a hurry to get out especially if you don't have a "spot" scouted.  Afternoons give you an advantage to watch where the ducks want to be. Its far better to be late to where the ducks want to be than early to a where they don't want to be. 

    I remember getting intel on Blackbellies one time. For some reason we slept in the truck until shooting time then got out and watched. Ended up going the opposite direction for Pintails and Teal. 

    Patience. Wish I could teach one of my hunting partners that.


  • TGunnTGunn Posts: 1,919 Captain
    edited December 2019 #21
    Spinners will generally work a lot longer for teal, not long for ringers, and hardly at all for much else past about 9am on opening day.  As previously stated, migrating birds have seen a lot of them by the time they get here. 

    Id rather have 8 decoys out with four attached to a jerk string or two than 50 decoys with Turbo Spinning Mallard Madness Vortex Tornadoes like most of the people I see.  

    And please——do all of us a favor. Lay off the call, Stuttgart Steve, if that’s your style. I think Osceola turkey and Florida ducks are related. 
  • PinmanPinman Posts: 2,650 Captain
    TGunn said:
    And please——do all of us a favor. Lay off the call, Stuttgart Steve, if that’s your style. I think Osceola turkey and Florida ducks are related. 
    Man, you wouldn't like hunting next to my friend with no patience. He can run some serious air through that old black plastic PS Olt. But....it works and I cant replicate it. You probably wont like the reports from the scatterguns as the Mottleds and Widgeons drop either.
  • TGunnTGunn Posts: 1,919 Captain
    I’m not doubting you.  But your friend is a rarity indeed!
  • Big MakBig Mak Posts: 3,374 Captain
    If he's blowing a PS Olt, I think I would trust him ripping off a cacophony of quacks and highballs for the morning sit. I used to have several of those calls. Wish I still had them.
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