Early-season hunts often take place in the heavy cover of beaver ponds and thick timber. A good cripple dog is a major asset. To fine-tune your dog’s nose, cut a piece of PVC pipe about 5 feet in length. (The diameter doesn’t matter—use whatever you’ve got cluttering up your basement.)

Run an 8-foot-long section of paracord or other cordage through the pipe, and tie a slip loop to one end. Attach the loop to a bird wing or training bumper treated with duck scent. Hold the pipe out from your body, and drag the wing or bumper along a scent trail through your yard. The pipe prevents your own foot scent from contaminating the trail.

Want more? The spanking-new Total Outdoorsman Skills & Tools Manual is packed with 324 of the best Field & Stream gear tricks. Knots, knives, rods, reels, tents, stoves, plus great stories, tons of photos, and awesome illustrations. You can pick it up at most of the usual suspects—many independent booksellers and sporting goods stores, plus Barnes & Nobles, Books A Million, Costco, BJ’s, Sam’s Club, and of course the all-powerful Fresh out of the printing press so get ‘em while they’re hot!