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How Do You Duck Hunt When There's No Water or Cover?

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October 24, 2011

How Do You Duck Hunt When There's No Water or Cover?

By Chad Love

You may recall my unfettered joy at finally having a boat from which the dog and I could duck hunt out of this year. But, as it often goes, this particular joy was premature, fleeting and is now dead, thanks to an epic and ongoing drought that has dropped the water level on my home reservoir (and virtually every other lake within reasonable driving distance) so far below the boat ramps that you could hardly launch a rubber duckie, much less a 16-foot boat.

Not only that, but all the sloughs, ponds and backwaters around my home lake are also bone-dry, as are all my other duck hunting spots. That leaves the main body of the lake (what's left of it) as my only real option this year. So instead of cruising across the lake surface with a boat full of dozens of decoys, sipping my coffee and living the good life, I'll be, once again, hoisting a decoy bag across my tired old shoulders and hoofing it across a mostly dry lakebed. And here's where I need your advice.

We've got a lake level so low that shoreline cover--where in a normal year I'd build a blind--is now fifty to sixty yards (or more) from the waterline, and there's not a stick of cover between, just a flat expanse of sand. So the dog and I are completely exposed. I don't own a layout blind to hide in, nor do I own a kayak, sneakboat or other low-profile duck boat that could navigate the shallow water. And since I have to walk farther to reach huntable water, I have to carry fewer decoys.

So how do the dog and I hunt in this scenario? Do I carry a shovel with me and dig a couple small pits at the waterline for us to lie in, and perhaps cover up with some grass mats? Or do I stick to the shoreline cover and hope to get a few passing shots? And what about decoys? I always try to have a mix of puddlers and divers in my spread, but with a limit of, say, 16 to 18 standard-sized decoys, what would your killer small-set mix look like?

Comments (10)

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from dneaster3 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

A burlap sheet on top of you and fido will look as good as anything, and burlap is one of the few things left in the hunting world that is still effective, lightweight, and very cheap.

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from dneaster3 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Combine that burlap "ground blind system" with a few field decoys (or regular dekes plus gotduckfeet.com decoy feet) and you'll be in business on the edge of the mud pit...er, I mean "lake".

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from Bob81 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

I second the advice above. A sheet of burlap looks pretty good on muddy bank, camo-burlap looks pretty good on a grassy bank, and a white sheet works pretty well when there is snow on the ground. If you want to be comfortable, bring one of those little seats filled with foam beads to use as a pillow.

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from big_buck_hunter_2013 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Im agreein with these guys, a burlap blind will work. But im mostly here to say id rather have your drought than my flood. MO river flooded everything in my neck of the woods. Bottom ground is ruined now.

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from labrador12 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Scouting is going to be everything in your area. The birds will be more concentrated than usual. Look for beaver damned areas. Maybe field hunting is the way to go this year if the birds are sitting in the middle of a lake with no cover.

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from ejunk wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

pit blind!

or maybe a better term is "fox hole."

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from RES1956 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Pit at the waterline will fill up pretty quick, rendering a mucky mess. Pull up some driftwood or drag a bunch of limbs to the waterline and make a blind, ducks won't know the difference.
I don't know if you guys have cane up there, but cut you a bunch if you do and stick it in the mud to make a blind out of it. Be still and keep your white face from shining and kill ducks, it ain't rocket science.
Where the hell is this Yankee Ingenuity I have heard about since I was a child? Do you guys need an old southern boy to show you how to adapt, improvise, and survive?
We have to do this every year hunting the river because of the variation of water level at winter pool and my two sons and I whack a couple hundred every season.
I think Nike had it right, "Just Do It."

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from RES1956 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

I have never been damned by a beaver, but have seen some places that have beaver dams on them,,,,

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from derik wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Dig a pit and get yourself some burlap, let it get all dusty like the lake bed and lay under it like you are shooting out of a layout blind. That's what some of my buddies do that don't have layout blinds for geese in the blue berry barrens, they just don't have to dust up the burlap the camo matches close enough.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from GuyGene wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

That ramp looks like my lake. I am new to duck hunting, but I like the burlap idea. I hope to go this year for my first time! Only problem is all I have is Browning Sweet 16, Belgian made, and not suitable for steel shot according to Browning's web site...

Let us know how you do.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from dneaster3 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

A burlap sheet on top of you and fido will look as good as anything, and burlap is one of the few things left in the hunting world that is still effective, lightweight, and very cheap.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dneaster3 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Combine that burlap "ground blind system" with a few field decoys (or regular dekes plus gotduckfeet.com decoy feet) and you'll be in business on the edge of the mud pit...er, I mean "lake".

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bob81 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

I second the advice above. A sheet of burlap looks pretty good on muddy bank, camo-burlap looks pretty good on a grassy bank, and a white sheet works pretty well when there is snow on the ground. If you want to be comfortable, bring one of those little seats filled with foam beads to use as a pillow.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from big_buck_hunter_2013 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Im agreein with these guys, a burlap blind will work. But im mostly here to say id rather have your drought than my flood. MO river flooded everything in my neck of the woods. Bottom ground is ruined now.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from labrador12 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Scouting is going to be everything in your area. The birds will be more concentrated than usual. Look for beaver damned areas. Maybe field hunting is the way to go this year if the birds are sitting in the middle of a lake with no cover.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ejunk wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

pit blind!

or maybe a better term is "fox hole."

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RES1956 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Pit at the waterline will fill up pretty quick, rendering a mucky mess. Pull up some driftwood or drag a bunch of limbs to the waterline and make a blind, ducks won't know the difference.
I don't know if you guys have cane up there, but cut you a bunch if you do and stick it in the mud to make a blind out of it. Be still and keep your white face from shining and kill ducks, it ain't rocket science.
Where the hell is this Yankee Ingenuity I have heard about since I was a child? Do you guys need an old southern boy to show you how to adapt, improvise, and survive?
We have to do this every year hunting the river because of the variation of water level at winter pool and my two sons and I whack a couple hundred every season.
I think Nike had it right, "Just Do It."

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RES1956 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

I have never been damned by a beaver, but have seen some places that have beaver dams on them,,,,

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from derik wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Dig a pit and get yourself some burlap, let it get all dusty like the lake bed and lay under it like you are shooting out of a layout blind. That's what some of my buddies do that don't have layout blinds for geese in the blue berry barrens, they just don't have to dust up the burlap the camo matches close enough.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from GuyGene wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

That ramp looks like my lake. I am new to duck hunting, but I like the burlap idea. I hope to go this year for my first time! Only problem is all I have is Browning Sweet 16, Belgian made, and not suitable for steel shot according to Browning's web site...

Let us know how you do.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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