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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I want to try out duck hunting this year, I have some hunting experience but nothing with waterfowl. Ive done a significant amount of research but nothing beats advice from people that use the waters I will be going to. Any tips I should know? I live very close to Utah lake on the west side of Springville. Also I am not completely sure on proper etiquette while waterfowl hunting so I want to get that straight before I go out. Can you help me out?
 

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Welcome to the forum and to waterfowling! You should be able to find a lot of help and advice from here reading previous threads and there are a ton off good guys here willing to help. It is a very addictive sport to say the least. Being able to truly fool a flock of leery ducks or geese, talking back and forth to them, and convincing them to come in feet down in your face is a very fun and exciting experience. Don't be afraid to put in the work to find and go places others wont. The most enjoyment is shooting birds that work your spread, and not sky blasting anything within 100 yards passing over you. Try to keep enough distance from others that neither are ruining birds working the others spread. Good luck!!!
 

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You need to pick up the waterfowl guidebook at walmart. Read through it to know the laws, as there are quite a few to follow. Also, learn how to ID which species of duck is flying around. There are laws on which you can shoot and how many. And one bit of advice I'd give you, learn the power of your shotgun. I wouldn't take shots further away than 35 maybe 40 yards. It's a waste of shells and it pisses people off. Also, you probably don't have a swan tag. So don't be shooting at the big white birds. They're not geese.
 

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Lots of good advise so far. My biggest problem with other hunters is them setting up way to close to another group. Nothing more frustrating to me than getting in early to get a spot ant just finish setting up to have another hunter set right on top of you. Have several spots in mind so if some one is in your 1st choice place you have other choices rather than setting to close.
Hope your season is a good one!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the advice. The first thing I did was read the guidebook and what I took away from that is that I need to read the guidebook more so I'm with you on that. Ill take the shotgun advice to heart and not shoot at anything more than 35 yards out. I dont want to set on top of people at all, as a deer hunter I know how annoying that it is so Ill take extra precaution for that. Im a masters student finishing up and Im ahead of schedule so I actually have time to go during the week. Ill pick weekdays to start to learn since it sounds like there is a less amount of people. Ill go grab a waterfowl ID book. Ive been worried about identification between ducks, not so much on swans.

Thank you so much for the help. If you think of anything else let me know. Ill cruise the message boards to see what other info I can pick up.
 

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Apologies for the huge post...

Here's a list of common problems/mistakes/oversights I have observed (or heard about) while hunting on public ground, in no particular order. Some are more serious. I've learned a few of these the hard way.

1) Shooting at birds out of range

2) Shooting at nongame birds

3) Shooting a duck before identifying it

4) Shooting birds they can't/don't retrieve

You're going to need some waders or a boat unless you hunt dry fields exclusively. Additionally, lots of people shoot ducks that land in thick stands of cattails or phragmites that they can't find. When you pick a hunting spot, you need to keep bird retrieval in mind. Also, when you hit a bird, carefully watch where it lands and quickly get to that spot to begin the search. A wounded duck can hide well and/or slip away quickly. If you hunt long enough, you'll probably lose a bird or two. But I lose very few (despite not having a dog) by taking basic precautions and carefully marking downed birds.

5) Shooting before or after legal hunting hours.

Don't do it.

6) Shooting at geese out of season

Pay careful attention to goose season dates. The goose season closes during the middle of the duck season for a few weeks, and I'm amazed at how many hunters forget about that rule or disregard it.

7) Shooting scaup out of season

Just like geese, scaup have a different season than the rest of the ducks. You'll need to be extra careful about what you're shooting at after the scaup season closes.

8 ) Letting poorly-behaved dogs run wild

9) Forgetting bugspray/sunscreen, or enough water

You may be eaten alive by mosquitoes if you forget bugspray. Also, you will need plenty of water in the early season, especially if you're in hot, sweaty waders.

10) Leaving personal property on public land overnight

It's technically against the law to stash decoys at a public hunting spot overnight. Some people try to reserve spots by leaving decoys out unattended to give the impression that someone is already hunting there. This is illegal and is also very poor etiquette.

11) Getting lost

A few hunters each year seem to get lost in the tall, thick vegetation that is prevalent in Utah marshes. It's very easy to get turned around once you're in it. I'd recommend taking a compass with you on your hunts at a minimum, and a GPS is even better.

12) Calling too much

When you start out, I recommend calling very sparingly. I've seen ducks that really wanted to land somewhere get scared away by bad calling.

Keep that stuff in mind, and you'll be way ahead of where I was when I started.

Also, if you want to hunt on opening day (and I can't decide whether I would recommend it), plan on a large crowd. I'm not sure how it is in Utah county or by Utah Lake, but the opener on the Great Salt Lake and its surrounding marshes is kind of ridiculous, to put it mildly. I typically try to arrive in the parking lot more than 3 hours before shooting starts. Some parking lots will fill up before then. Half the time, I really enjoy the day. The other half, I wonder why I even bother. But I always go to kick off the best 107 days of the year.

I'll also recommend that you don't hunt too close to others, but it's really hard to come up with any kind of hard rule to decide how close is too close. On opening day, you might be lucky to get 30 yards of space on either side of you if you hunt in certain areas. I can think of two areas that are like that for most of the season. In other areas with tons of space, you might be intruding if you're within 300+ yards. Just use common sense, treat others as you would like to be treated, and we'll all get along.

My last thought: enjoy the learning curve. I didn't do too well when I was getting started, but some of my fondest memories come from my youngest days, when I was just discovering the beauty of waterfowl hunting. I still love waterfowl hunting, but it hasn't been quite the same since the novelty wore off.
 

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Good advice so far.....I will give you some other things to think about.

First, you don't need to run out and buy a $1500 shotgun that shoots 3.5" shells, for that matter you don't need 3.5" shells period. You don't need Nitro, Hypersonic, Heavy Shot, Heavy Metal, Blindside, Black Cloud or any other top dollar shell to kill a frickin duck. You can do just as good with a cheap box of Federals or Winchesters. Remember you hit the duck or you don't, and I have found that I miss with the expensive stuff the same as I do with the cheap stuff.

Secondly, You don't need $150 duck decoys to shoot a frickin duck. Watch for sales in the coming weeks because there will be a lot of them. Hit garage sales, thrift stores and KSL classifieds for deals. Who cares what they look like as long as the don't have cracks and will float. You can always paint the decoys. New decoys never look new after a couple of trips to the marsh anyway.

Third, Get a good pair of breathable waders with at least 600 grams of insulation in the boots, 1000 grams is better. You can comfortably wear these all season long if you layer properly during the cold months.

Fourth, You DO NOT need a duck call to kill a frickin duck. There are way too many dudes out there that just don't know when to quit blowing their guts out. If you are on a small pothole all by yourself then chances of decoying birds with soft calls may be a possibility, but don't hammer the $hit out of the call. If you do decide to buy a duck call you don't need to spend $175 on one. Pick up a Buck Gardner Double Nasty, Primos Phat Lady, or Zink Power Hen for under $30.

Fifth, The learning curve will be achieved much faster if you hunt with someone that has some experience with waterfowl. Find, beg or barter with somebody that has been duck hunting for a few years. Most guys are not going to give you or take you to their secret spots. I know guys that would give up their first born before they give up a honey hole. Now, If by chance someone does take you to their secret spot, do not and I repeat do not show up there the next weekend by yourself or with a buddy. This is bad etiquette and will pi$$ off the guy that originally took you there. Never hunt someones honey hole without them, unless they say otherwise.

Sixth, Get as much information as you can before venturing out. Look at maps and Google Earth of the areas you want to hunt. Have fun, be safe, be respectful of others and finish your masters so you can afford the addiction that is about to consume all of your $$$. :) You will love waterfowling or you will hate it, there is no in between.
 

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For waterfowl identification I really like this book https://www.amazon.com/Waterfowl-Id...=waterfowl+identification+the+lemaster+method

There has been some good advice so far. I will add don't get frustrated. My first year I could count on one hand the number of ducks I shot (i am self taught). It passes, and you learn more.

Be willing to walk farther and work harder to get away from people.

I will echo what others said, if someone takes you out, respect that spot. I have had one guy half joke about burning me on a spot, and I will never ever take him again.

See if you can go scouting with someone and learn what to look for.

I am up in weber county, or I would offer.

It's hard to add much to the advice given.
 

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One other thought:

Please take a hunting buddy if possible.

Some areas of a marsh can be very dangerous as the water suddenly gets very deep. If water gets into your waders, you will sink like a rock.

Be safe out there!!!!
 

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Gear list:
good reliable shotgun that you are ok with it getting wet, muddy, snowed on, etc
A few boxes of decent steel shot ( i. e., 3" 1 1/8 oz #2 or #3 steel) shoot the same load for a season
Good comfortable pair of waders.
Camo jacket or coat that you can layer as the season progresses from hot to freezing.
A good hat.
License, duck stamp, copy of regs, and a good map.
A decent pair of binoculars that you are ok with getting, wet, muddy, snowed on etc.


For a first season keep it simple.

Wear some tread off of your wader soles. Explore, a lot. Use your binos to see where birds are going to and from. Stay away from other hunters. Learn what 40 yards looks like. Learn to shoot at birds 40 yards or less. Follow the rules,

Don't buy or buy into the need for fancy decoys, calls, or other gizmos. By next season you'll have learned where you could place decoys. Get some dekes next year. Don't waste your time w teal decoys. Teal decoy to anything. Get a dozen or two of good full size dark colored dekes. Half a dozen decoys in the right spot will kill 10x more ducks than 100 will in the wrong spot.


Don't look up at birds with an uncovered face. Keep still. Stay low. Shoot at their lips. Keep your head down on the gun stock and Always follow through on your shot swing.
 
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