Find Waterfowl Faster

Don't scout harder. Scout Smarter-with six tips from our shooting editor.

Ducks are quick to find freshly flooded areas--and you should be, too.

  1. Watch the water. Rising water levels mean freshly flooded food to ducks, and the birds are astonishingly quick to find it. To meet them there, check out waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/rt, where you can monitor the levels of rivers and creeks in all 50 states.

    2. Use the two-day rule. Watch geese feed in a field for two days and hunt them on the third. After one day, birds may or may not return. But if they're there two days in a row, chances are very good they'll be back on the third. Wait too long, and they may move on.

    3. Scout all day. Most people spy on ducks only in the early morning and evening. Go out at midmorning and learn where the birds go after they feed. Often, they spend the day loafing on smaller waters. Find these spots and you can have excellent midday action all to yourself.

    4. Put birds to bed. If you're scouting a grainfield in the evening, stay until ducks or geese leave at dark. Then go to the exact spot where the birds were feeding and mark it with a GPS, or set out a traffic cone or other marker, so you can return to the right place come morning.

    5. Keep a log. Some places draw waterfowl year after year. Moreover, many ducks migrate by the calendar. When you find birds in a particular place on a particular date, jot it down. Chances are good you'll find them there at the same time again every year.

    6. Be a copycat. Don't just learn where field geese are feeding. Study the flocks. How big are the bunches? Are they making a lot of noise? Are they scattered in the field or concentrated? Mimicking what the live birds are doing with your decoy spread and calling can really pay off.