Show Notes:

It is easy to think you need a dog to hunt ducks, but those thoughts are only propagated by people who rely on dogs. Not only can you hunt ducks without a dog, you can sometimes be more effective without one. On this episode I talk about the advantages and disadvantages of hunting with a dog and how you can be effective without one.

What dogs can do:

  • Retrieve your birds so you don’t have to get up, keeping you comfortable.
  • Potentially retrieve the birds faster than you could have, resulting in less down time.
  • Retrieve ducks from deep water, which is very handy.
  • More effectively retrieve crippled birds, so fewer get away.

What dogs do not do:

  • Help you call in and shoot ducks. In fact they do nothing to help you take game.
  • Make it easier to hide. They can add movement and noise which are potential liabilities.
  • Anything you cannot do, without the right equipment. You can accomplish the same tasks when prepared.

Listen to the episode to hear about how to hunt waterfowl without a dog.

Show Notes:

Duck hunting can be gear intensive, so to say one piece of gear is the most important is a big claim. But nothing is more important than safety and if something can keep you safe and help you hunt more effectively, it tops the charts.  On this episode I talk with Bill Dickinson, a life-long duck hunter, doctor, and co-founder of an amazing outdoor company that is changing lives and the culture of waterfowl hunting.

Take Aways

  • Until recently there has been no great way to hunt ducks and protect your hearing. Ear plugs ruined the hunt and electronic ear plugs only sort of ruined the hunt while often creating other issues.
  • Hearing loss is cumulative over time. Every shot taken potentially harms your hearing some, for other it causes more harm.
    • Research shows that some people’s hearing can take more of a beating while other people lose their hearing faster. But sometimes even those with robust hearing are unexpectedly just one gunshot away from partial deafness
  • Bill, who is a doctor of audiology, co-founded a company called Tetra Hearing with the express goal of not just protecting people’s hearing, not just preserving the experience and sounds of the hunt, but also enhancing your ability to hunt better.
  • Every device is tuned to match your personal hearing levels and ranges.
  • For those with perfect hearing, Bill’s product enables you to hear like normal while magnifying the sounds that ducks make so you can hear them from even further away.
    • As soon as you pull the trigger a sensor causes the device to go from amplification to suppression, blocking out the sound of the gunshot like traditional ear plugs.
  • For those with poor hearing, Tetra’s product acts as a hearing aid, amplifying the sounds of the woods to match your hearing level and augmenting the unique sounds that ducks make.
    • And again, as soon as you take a shot, it provides instant hearing protection.
  • Always wear hearing protection of some kind, if at all possible. ESSPECIALLY when you may be taking multiple shots or hunting with others who may be shooting too.

You can learn more about Bill’s work and company by visiting TetraHearing.com and you can take a free hearing test to help assess your current condition. 

(Disclaimer, there are no affiliate links, no commissions or kick backs, I do not make a dollar if you purchase anything. I genuinely and strongly believe in the work Bill is doing)

Show Notes:

Waders are an essential tool for duck hunting. Being able to retrieve ducks and decoys from the water while staying dry is one of the most unique parts of the sport. On this episode I help sort through all the different types of waders, the pros and cons of each, and the different levels of quality so you can make informed decisions based on your style and budget.

I classify waders under four main categories:

  1. Hip Waders – These are usually vinyl or another uninsulated material that at best come up to your hip and enable you to hunt in very shallow water.
  2. Cheap Waders – All chest waders in the $30-$70 range, or so. These are often uninsulated, uncomfortable on he feet, rarely last more than a few hunts, and can be a struggle to keep watertight. But there is a time and place where they could be the right choice for some. 
  3. Breathable Waders – These waders are usually made of nylon, Gore-Tex, or some polyester that has a waterproof membrane but still allows perspiration to evaporate out of them. They are light weight, very flexible, and usually uninsulated. 
  4. Neoprene Waders – These are usually the thickest, bulkiest, warmest, and most durable waders. They are perfect for winter and situations with very cold water or when you will spend a lot of time in the water.

What makes quality waders goes far beyond these categories and materials, listen to episode to hear about this in detail, as well as the pros and cons for each type and when they might be a good fit for you.

Here is the link to High & Dry Waders that I referenced in the episode. 

 

Show Notes:

Shotguns and shells are essential tools for duck hunting, there is no way to do it without them. Because of this, it is a very crowded market and there are many options out there. On this episode I talk about how to select a shotgun for waterfowl hunting, and perhaps more importantly how to navigate the massive duck hunting ammunition industry. 

Take Aways

  • The best gun to hunt ducks with is the shotgun you already have or can easily borrow. Start with that and use your money for other essentials.
  • The second best shotgun is the cheapest one you can find used at a gun shop or gun show.
  • The third best is the new one that is the easiest for you to operate and shoot well
  • The gauge, choke, and general shell power level can vary based on your preferences and physical size. I tend to point most people towards a 12 gauge with modified choke using 3″ shells. But there is no one size fits all.
  • When it comes to ammo, waterfowl shells typically use steel, bismuth, or tungsten. The effectiveness and cost of those shells can vary greatly.
  • In the episode I talk about each type of shot along with the science and practical take aways to help you pick what is best for you. 

Check out my comparison: BOSS Bismuth Vs. Steel Shot | Ballistics Gel Test (Video)

There are big changes happening at The New Hunters Guide, and I am excited about them!  This is a special announcement episode that goes into the details of what is happening with the podcast currently and the future plans. Listen to get all of the details.

The short short version is our reach is expanding and our ability to better serve YOU is increasing!

Show Notes:

Creating movement and ripples on the water on calm days is very important for realistic decoy spreads and it is a big industry. Expensive options may work great, but you can improvise your own motion duck decoys with little to no cost and they can do the job exceptionally well. On this episode I talk about how to build three different kinds of motion decoys using things you already own.

These motion decoy builds can often be done for $5 or less

  1. The Tug Line – This simple approach uses a thin string or thread tied to a duck decoy on a weighted rig to enable you to create small movements with gentle tugs. It is super cheap and simple. The only downside is you may need a heavier decoy sinker.
  2. The Dunking Duck – A heavy sunken weight combined with a string and a metal ring acts like a pully on the lake bottom that enables you to pull the decoy straight down into a natural feeding position making a lot of ripples on the water. (Thanks Riley!)
  3. The Bungee Stake – Using old bungee cords, knots, and zip ties you can turn an old metal cage stake into a mass motion duck decoy system that enables you to move multiple floating decoys twice with every pull of the string. 

 

Show Notes:

Decoys are one of things that make duck hunting so much fun, and so much work! For most kinds of waterfowl hunting, decoys play a crucial roll in getting the birds to come where you want them. On this episode I talk about what you need to know to buy and use duck decoys.

Take Aways

  • In one sense, decoys matter A LOT. In another sense, there is not much to them.
  • For most situations in most hunts, mallard decoys are all you need to get started, and all some veterans ever use.
  • To start hunting you need between 6-12 duck decoys. For small water, ponds, and streams, you can get by with half a dozen. For lakes and bigger water, 12 is your starting point. You will likely want to accumulate a few dozen for different situations and hunting areas as you progress.
  • Often you will want to setup decoys in a U shape, a J shape, or a few small groups spread out. In all of these setups the goal is to create a pocket in the middle of the spread where the ducks will land.
  • I recommend getting standard (small) to full (medium) sized decoys. Smaller decoys enable you to carry more of them with less weight and bulk. And they are ideal for most situations.
  • Magnum (large) and battleship (x-large) decoys can be enormous, even bigger than goose decoys. They can be good if you are using small numbers or hunting somewhere that ducks are passing by a long way off and you want to increase the odds they will see your spread. But that is an experts’ game, beginners should get small or regular sized decoys.
  • There are hard shell hollow decoys, hard shell foam, and soft shell. All work great.
  • Hard shell foam generally costs a little more and are designed to not be sinkable if they are hit by a few stray shotgun pellets. The best advice is don’t shoot your decoys! But if it happens, these are less likely to sink.
  • Decoys range drastically in price from $50 a dozen to $150+ for six fancy ones. The first set of decoys I ever used and shot ducks over were Flambeau Masters Series Mallards. They proved rugged, detailed, and cost effective.

Make sure you sign up for the Flambeau decoy giveaway. I am giving away three boxes of their decoys. Sign up once for three chances to win!

Also Flambeau was kind enough to provide a discount code for 10% off everything in their store: Use the code NEWHUNTERS21 on their website.

 

Show Notes:

Calling is one of the most engaging parts of duck hunting. It is a real life example of talking to the animals! On this episode I talk about how to get started in the world of ducks call, both what calls to purchase and how to use them.

Take Aways

  • With few exceptions, most duck hunters only need a mallard hen duck call.
  • There are only two calls you need to be proficient with to get started, the quack and the hail call. If you can do those you can call in ducks.
  • For new hunters especially, less calling is usually best. Let your call get their attention and let your decoys to the rest.
  • There are lots of calls and types of calls on the market. Wood calls, plastic calls, polycarbonate calls, ceramic calls, the list goes on. Not to mention single reed, double reed, triple reed, and don’t forget about different kinds of reeds. The sky is the limit.
  • You do not need a call with lots of bells and whistles, great flexibility of tonal range, or excessive resonance capabilities for more volume. You just a call that is easy to blow and sounds like a duck. That’s it.
  • There is no reason to pay for a lot of features that you are not skilled enough to make use of or appreciate. And even then, there is debate if a $150 call really appeals to ducks any more than a $30 call.
  • I recommend getting something inexpensive that is robust and reliable.

I called in my first duck on my first ever duck hunt with a Ryloh Game Calls mallard hen call. This call has three traits that I really like:

  1. It is easy for beginners to blow and make ducks sounds.
  2. It is easy to blow loudly.
  3. It is 100% reliable. I have more expensive and fancier calls that need disassembled and cleaned regularly or they stop working. This one works all the time, every time, I have never once cleaned it.

Riley is not a sponsor and I get no kickbacks, but at my request he agreed to give a 10% discount to all New Hunters Guide listeners. Just go to his website https://rylohgamecalls.com and use the code nhgcast at checkout for the 10% discount.

 

 

 

Show Notes:

Duck hunting takes more gear than most other types of hunting, BUT you can get started with a few must haves and then later add on the should haves. On this episode I go into some detail about all the gear you need for duck hunting and how you can break into the sport the easiest and the cheapest way.

Must Haves

  • All the required hunting licenses – This will include some mix of general state hunting license, state duck hunting license, and federal duck depending on where you live.
  • Shotgun – Whatever you already have or can borrow is the best place to start! Hunt, learn, and then decide what would be best for you to buy.
  • Steel Shot – Start cheap, more expensive shot can come later.
  • Cheap Waders – A pair of super cheap $30-$50 waders can get you into the game for your first hunt. You can patch holes, but they likely wont make it to a second season. However you are loosing nothing by starting cheap. You dollar-per-season wader cost will not be worse than if you get better waders. If a $40 pair lasts one season and a $200 pair lasts five seasons, the cost per season is the same but the barrier to entry is lower. Granted, the better waders will be MUCH nicer. But you can get those next year.
  • Headlamp – Expensive options get you very little more function than cheap ones. Waterproofing is about the only feature worth paying more for.
  • Ear Protection – Never get into a duck blind without ear protection. Start with the cheapest foam ear plugs money can buy then work your way up to better electronic options, I think Tetra Hearing makes the best ear protection in the industry but they are most likely a second or third season purchase for most new waterfowl hunters. Keep in mind a good earplug strategy can make the difference between foam ear plugs being a usable tool and something that ruins your hunt.
  • Decoys + Decoy rigs/anchors + Decoy Bag – You can start with as few as 6-12 decoys. You want some cheap, small, and durable mallard decoys. Pay up for fancy ones down the road.
  • A Duck Call – A mallard hen call is all you need to get started. I called in my first duck ever with a Ryloh Workingman Mallard Hen.
  • Waste Up Camo – You should be hidden well for duck hunting, little below your shoulders should ever be visible.
  • A Good Hide – Many duck hunters, including experts build their own duck blind on location with whatever they can find that day. This should cost you $0 to get started.
  • Seat – You need something that will keep you dry, comfort is a plus. Consider a short folding stool, a turkey chair, a piece of an exercise mat, or just a bucket with a lid.

Should Haves

  • Jerk Rig – Something to create motion on water when the wind isn’t blowing.
  • Decoy Gloves – Something waterproof is a must have for cold days with cold water.
  • Good Waders – You cannot hunt forever with junk waders, this is often the first piece of gear to upgrade once you get going. 
  • Call Lanyard – Keeps you calls handy so you can grab them with minimal movement, and keeps them from getting lost in the mud.
  • Decoy/Gear Transportation – A Jed Sled is ideal once you have more gear than you can carry on your back, but a cart or kayak are good options too, if you have them.  
  • Cold Weather Gear – As the season progresses you will need items that are wind and waterproof. Warm gear will help extend your season.
  • A Hand Warming Plan – Some people like warm gloves, a callers glove, a warmer muff or just pockets with handwarmers. Get some experience and see what you prefer.

There is always more, the sky is the limit. But this my list for beginner duck hunters. Most of this gear will be well suited for goose hunting too except for the call and decoys. Listen to the episode for more details about each and how to get cost effective options. 

Show Notes:

There are many ways to hunt ducks and each has a time and place where it is effective. But most people only have the right conditions, gear, and access to implement a few different approaches. On this episode I cover four big strategies for hunting in different conditions to help get you started.

4 Duck Hunting Strategies

  1. Jump Hunting – This is essentially stalking ducks on foot, trying to get the jump on them. This is difficult to do but it requires the least amount of gear and money to get started with.
  2. Field Hunting – Here you are looking for feeding areas where you can setup with land decoys, a blind, and calls. It is similar to water hunting but you don’t need any water gear. However most new hunters do not have access to cut grain fields that would be ideal for this.
  3. Water Hunting – This is the number one way most new hunters will get into the sport. Setting up a good hide next to some water with floating decoys while trying to call ducks into you. Tried and true. 
  4. Boat Hunting – If you have kayak or canoe you can get into marshy areas and setup decoys in order to hunt from your boat or you can stash your boat and sit or stand in reeds and thick cover and try to call them into your decoys from there.