I’m not a big water duck hunter. This stems from a few factors, the first being that I don’t have a clue how to hunt anything larger than a medium-sized river or a pond of more than a couple acres. The only boat I own is a bass boat, and so my experience with ducks involves a lot of smaller water pass- and jump-shooting.
Some folks frown on jump shooting ducks, and I get that. It doesn’t stop me, though, from developing a milk run of smaller ponds and creeks to jump after my first sit of the morning dries up. Sometimes my Lab and I don’t need to go full-ninja to round out a morning, other times we do.
Either way, you can bet that the water we’ll hunt already has been scouted in a manner similar to how I find deer honey-holes. Because my waterfowl time is typically spent on public water, and on public land, I like to find out-of-the-way spots that require time and effort to reach. Easy access, just like in the deer woods, invites the crowds, and I’d rather stay away from my competition.
Because of that, I spend a lot of time looking at platbooks or maps and comparing them to aerial photos online. A beaver pond tucked into the back corner of a section of public land almost undoubtedly will have a few woodies, teal, or even mallards calling it a temporary home. After opening day, these spots will improve if other hunters ignore them.
I like to identify at least a few of these types of small-water spots for the opener, so that I have a backup plan or two should the hunting not pan out at the first spot. Often, while I’m hunting these secluded areas I’ll notice that the ducks that don’t approach will cup their wings and pitch down into a different, but nearby, area. This might be something that didn’t show as open water on aerial photos but certainly is in real-time.
If you’re short on duck gear but long on desire to scratch out a limit, consider scouting for new spots that others don’t know about, or simply won’t work to get to. This takes a little extra work, but is always worth the effort.