BY: YRC STAFF
It’s tradition every year for us to go waterfowl hunting on Thanksgiving morning. It was looking like we were going to have an epic hunt in our bean field. So naturally, we had Murphy’s Law against us leading up to this hunt.
Monday: We go check out our bean field. As we arrive there were new ducks in the area and the goose population almost doubled. We pull up to our field and it had been tilled under. Our jaws dropped in disbelief. It was a nightmare, nothing but dirt left. If it was a corn field it wouldn’t have bothered us as much, but a tilled bean field is extremely tough to hunt in. We call the farmer, who leaves the field untilled for us, and we ask why he tilled it. He says he didn’t and made a quick phone call to a friend. He called back and said his friend was driving by in his tractor and figured he’d do him a favor. The farmer felt awful, being a longtime friend and knowing that our best field was done for the year. Frantically we looked for new fields or something around that area. We saw a cornfield in the lot next to our bean field. The field looked great. It was tilled with a large patch of untilled corn so we could hide there perfectly. We drove to the Farmer’s house right away to get permission. But there was a problem. There’s one dirt tractor trail getting into the field. But the farmer said we can only use that road if it’s not wet. He asked where in the field and we told him of the spot he left cut and not tilled. Of course the forecast was showing rain all day Tuesday. If we couldn’t get our trucks and trailer in there it would be a 1000ft walk to the spot, something we weren’t about to settle for. But we figured we’d wait to see what the weather did.
Tuesday: Of course it rained. Not only that, but the farmer went out and tilled up the spot we told him he missed and that we were going to hunt there. It was as if he didn’t want us to hunt his land. So we knew we couldn’t use the road because of the mud and our spot had been tilled up a second time. The forecast changed for Wednesday showed a possible 3” of snow. Now that we could work with! We could use our dirt bean field, now covered in snow, and set up like normal. The birds would only know that food would be there, and they would see our decoys easily.
Wednesday: It snowed all day and looked like our luck was turning around. We had our minds set on our original field. We got the snow covers out and prepped the blinds. The winds were looking to be West @ 10MPH. The snow fell and stayed. We were ready to go hunting in the morning.
Thanksgiving: We get up early, go out to our spot and put everything out. There was a little bit of fog in the air but nothing too thick just yet. The winds were great and the field was covered in a blanket of snow. We get set up and wait for the ducks to come out first. We kept waiting, and waiting. Where were all the birds we saw all week? They finally got up 2 hours late and they were hungry! With the help of a few mojos and some great calling with the Dub and Nitro duck calls, we got them to come right down into our spread. With a little bit better shooting and some more time we could’ve got the last 2 we needed for a 4-man duck limit. Since we could only hunt the morning because it was a holiday, we could’ve stayed all day and shot birds. One thing we couldn’t figure out was the geese. They didn’t want anything to do with us. No matter what we did, they didn’t want to even take a look. Then we noticed they were piling into a corn field about a half mile south of us and they all started to land there. They didn’t even bother looking at us after that. We tried moving decoys, changing the whole spread, taking the mojo’s down, nothing got them to look. At this point we were content with our duck numbers and called it a day. It was another great duck hunt for us on a traditional Thanksgiving.
BY: YRC STAFF
It had been warm in the mid to high 40’s for weeks and it was finally getting into the 30’s coming into this hunt. There were plenty of local birds that roost in a river north of our location. They would fly out of the roost going south to a farmers pond surrounded by cornfields. They usually sit for almost 2 hours on the pond, then, they would get up and go feed. The birds weren’t feeding heavy yet this year since it had been so warm. There was a small cold front up north 2 days prior that had some snowfall in it. So we figured it gave the birds enough time to migrate down to get fresh birds in the area to mix with the local birds. We were set up south of the roost and NW of the pond. We couldn’t gain access to any of the cornfields or the pond so we got as close as we could in a bean field that was almost directly under the birds flight path.
Wind: SW @ 5-10 MPH Temp: 35 degrees
Location: Cut Bean Field
We got into our field early to start setting up. We used about 5.5 dozen full-body mallards with 4 Mojo’s. Then 6.5 dozen full-body geese, 2 dozen goose sleeper shells, and 2 goose flappers.
We knew the flight path wasn’t going to change and that we should be able to pull birds off their path and into our spread. They shouldn’t have to circle twice. Just fly out, turn, and land.
Well, it worked great for the first flocks of ducks, except they were landing upwind and to the left of our blinds on the front side of our entire spread. So no one had a good opportunity to shoot. The next flock of ducks came in, same thing. A flock of geese came in and wanted to land on the right side of our blinds and almost behind us on the front of our spread. So no one had a shot on that side. We saw right away that they wanted to feed aggressively, landing in front of the other birds to get to the food first.
See picture below.
Only a few ducks wanted to land in the middle of our spread. Something wasn’t right. So we changed it! If you can notice right away that there’s something wrong about how the birds react to your spread, move your decoys! If your concealment is great, it’s not you. Sometimes it’s how you’re decoys are presented.
So we figured the duck decoys needed to move out 10 yards so they could still land on the front and then we would have a great opportunity for shooting. Next we decided that the goose decoys were too close together at 6-8ft apart, so we went to 10ft, and extended those decoys out another 10 yards on the end of that arm. Then we also put a dozen Dakota Decoy Xtreme Honkers in a group of their own closer to the duck decoys.
By doing those simple things, it helped get the ducks to line up better and gave the geese enough confidence to finish amongst the decoys or right in the middle of the new X we wanted them to land. Just by putting those dozen goose decoys by themselves closer to the ducks, it gave them enough confidence to want to land in the middle where we wanted them to.