ENID LAKE NEWS Cold weather brings out area duck hunters
Rob Hoff places his decoys for a day of duck hunting on Enid Lake.
By: Park Ranger Robert L. Newton
With the colder temperatures of winter and an abundance of water many of our outdoorsmen are duck hunting. The first thing a good duck hunter does is scout the field or the body of water he is planning to hunt. Depending on the exact type of area you are hunting, decoys and their placement, can mean the difference between a successful day and a poor day. There is more to setting out a good decoy spread than just throwing your decoys out and letting the ducks just come in. A major error that some hunters make is putting their decoys up at the end of the season and taking them back out for the next season with no regard to how they look or even if they are clean.
Faded or dirty decoys are something that ducks will notice! If you ever watch ducks on the water once they have come back from feeding or if you witnessed them as they are loafing, one of the first things you notice is how much time they spend cleaning and preening themselves. Ducks are clean freaks. Therefore, if you want to create a realistic decoy spread your decoys should always be bright and clean. Decoys that are covered with mud or are one a very dull color don’t look real. Cleaning decoys is simple, use a scrub brush, some mild detergent or cleaner and some water. Use well-painted decoys and incorporate decoys that have life-like head and body positions. The better your decoys look, the better your chances of getting a shot. Always set your decoys up for the wind you will be hunting in and watch how the ducks react to the decoys and move them if you need to. Also, leave an open area for the "Kill Hole"; keeping in mind that you can funnel them right into it with the right kind of set-up.
A key element to successful waterfowl hunting is hunting the right spot at the right time. Ducks react to approaching weather fronts, local weather conditions, wind speed and direction, temperature, and hunting pressure in a predictable manner.
Weather conditions can also have a major impact on what calling techniques may be most effective and what calling style to use for the day. With colder weather ducks will usually become more aggressive. They will feed heavier and become more vocal. In this situation, an aggressive commanding style of calling will be most effective and produce the greatest result. In milder weather with above normal temperatures, the ducks will be much less aggressive. These birds will feed once a day and become much less vocal. A laidback style of calling would be the best and produce better results. It comes back to realism and how closely you can mimic the duck.
Enid Lake would like to remind duck hunters that safety is number one when out on the water. Here are some safety rules to follow when hunting from boats:
Do not overload boats and distribute weight evenly throughout the boat. The capacity plate in boats will give poundage that should not be exceeded.
Never jump out of your duck boat or climb in with a loaded firearm. When exiting, hand your gun to a partner or lay it down in a place that will be accessible when outside of your boat. Always observe the rules of safe firearms: handling and transportation of firearms.
Don’t drink alcohol or take drugs before or while handling firearms. Sub-stance abuse or use can affect normal physical and mental body functions.
Before leaving, file a Float Plan with someone. This information includes where you are hunting and the time you plan on returning. While in the boat always wear a life jacket, never wear your waders and keep your boat floor free from tripping hazards like guns, waders, decoys, etc. Hunters and dogs should always remain seated in a boat. If you must move while in a boat stay low and in the center of the boat.
Remember to wear a life jacket while hunting and know how to swim or float with waders or hip boats. Should your boat capsize try and stay with the boat and if you become stranded on a mudflat never get out of the boat. Try to free yourself with a paddle or other item. Post an observer when boating in shallow water and at night and be aware of underwater obstructions.
Know the signs of hypothermia and take precautions toward prevention.
Always carry a means of communication when duck hunting.
Remember to always think safety first.
We would like to remind everyone that preparation has already begun for the The next planning meeting will be held in the conference room at the Enid Lake Field Office January 11, 2005 at 7:00 p.m., everyone is welcome.
For more information on duck hunting or upcoming events at Enid Lake please contact the Enid Lake Field Office at (662) 563-4571.
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