Thursday, January 5, 2012

Hide Your Face

Some people do stupid things without realizing it. Some people are stupid and don't realize it. There's a difference, too. Nevertheless, there are a host of things that could go awry and cause birds to stare and flare longer than normal over your flock of deceiver-ducks. Most of the problems are figured out rather quick by good hunters. Realizing that ducks aren't cooperating is important in troubleshooting the problem.

To realize whether or not you have a problem, you must first consider the decoy spread itself. Can ducks, geese, or swan land in the spread? Some people consider a landed bird a "finished" bird. To me, if a bird is hovering over the decoys, he has "finished." decide for yourself if you like, but few birds land in decoys thirty minutes after daylight. Also, a highflyer with it's eye's set on distant marshes is not a finished bird.

Anyway...common problems that keep birds from settling in to shotgun range are generally htings that are picked up visually in nature. If I took a poll of duck hunters and asked "What flared your birds", odds are is that they would surmise that the deoy spread was not accurate either based on size, placement, or landing hole size.  All of which could be correct. If I took a poll of all flared waterfowl, I suppose the ducks would tell me that they saw the hunters. Ducks and duck decoys both look natural in nature. A long and shiny gun barrel, with it's straight lines are not accurate depictions of nature. And just because you splurged and got the camo-wrapped gun doesn't mean your gun is invincible. It means you are a sucker. Hide your gun in a safe manner until it's time to shoot.

Another problem might be a shiny blind. Brand new ground blinds need to be smeared with mud to dull the glisten of the tightly bound cordura. Boats inevitably have a stainless stell screw exposed, too. However, and unfortunately for all of us hunters, the sun will gleam only on that one screw, despite the pouring rain! I looked over my boat well and dulled all screws and shiny metal parts with some brown craft paint. It seemed to help and it also helped me to believe that anyone can "customize" their boat. I rarely hunt from my boat, though. Generally, I drive it to the location, deploy decoys, drive it into a tidal gut, cover it in a 10' x 30' section of burlap, and then walk back to the decoy spread some 100 yards away. That distance is appropriate generally, because even nervous birds will work to within 75 yards.

So if I have alleviated the gun problem by hiding it and the boat problem by relocating it, I began to wonder, often times aloud and to only myself "what on earth could be the matter?" I soon figured it out when I was returning from a layout hunt several miles offshore. With the sun to my back and shining on the nearing shoreline, decoy spreads of other hunters began to materialize. I knew that no blinds were in the area...eventually, from at least a mile out, I could make out the ugly mugs, all shining in the sun, of at east 6 different parties. Not a one wore a face mask or paint, a la Phil Robertson. Even when employing the use of said tactics, it's not enough. When possible, always use the sun to your advantage by making a shadow for you. When possible, sit with the sun to your back. It will backlight you and dull the neon white of your pasty winter face! Often times, novice hunters will hope to see all the ducks and their actions. Staring at ducks, especially late season ducks will flare them, guaranteed. I believe so much in this that often times, I hide my face for so long that many good shooting opportunities are lost through my extended patience.

On today's hunt, I took a party of three for a swan hunt in the corn fields of Northeastern North Carolina. With a west wind, we were forced, unfortunately to stare into the sun. Using the convenient canals on the property, we kept our faces below field level. When we heard the buzz of their feathers, we stood, tugged the trigger, and were soon collecting the dead. Killing 4 swans isn't hard. Being in the right place at the right time is paramount over all other factors. Swans are noted for being less than wary, but it is no game to them. Soon enough they realize that the sillosock decoys are in fact plastic bags and not feathered swans. Especially if shiny faces are popping up along the nearest canal of v ditch. The bags finished the decoys only when we stayed hidden, though. Swans are tougher to hunt than people want to award them credit for...but all good duck hunters, who are battle-tested by the wariest of fowl will find swan gunning to be a cinch. Nevertheless, always hide your gun, boat, and your ugly mug...

1 comment:

  1. that fact that i stare at the water and wait and wait while the duck fly overhead or are coming in for there landing has made me miss the perfect shot more than once myself...