Photo by Donald M. Jones

Two duck experts help solve your early-season hunting problems.

Ira McCauley of Momarsh

Problem: Dozens of coots are pulling every duck in the county away from your spread.

Cause: “Coot rafts attract ducks for a variety of reasons. They hold large numbers, which connotes safety. Black in color, they typically form on open water and display lots of motion, so they’re extremely visible to passing ducks.”

Solution: “Use motion decoys and spinners to increase movement in your spread. Call aggressively to keep birds interested. Have patience. And if all else fails, combine decoys with a buddy for a bigger spread.”

Casey Self of Avery Outdoors

Problem: The mosquitoes are terrible, but DEET-based repellents will destroy your wooden calls and shotgun stock.

Cause: “First used by the U.S. military in Vietnam, DEET is actually a solvent that can—and will—trash painted or varnished wood surfaces, including gunstocks.”

Solution: “Protect wooden stocks and calls with commercially available wraps or tape, or get a butane-powered repellent like a Therma­Cell. Permethrin-based bug sprays also work well and won’t tarnish wood.”