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On the youth duck hunt this past weekend I pulled out the range finder to establish a reasonable shooting perimeter for my young hunter. We had our backs to a dike with marsh/salt grass with scattered ponds in front of us. I was very surprised how close 40 yards seemed. I then realized there was nothing within my frame of reference for my eye/brain to latch onto to compare size and calculate distance. The dilemma was even more apparent when a huge goose flew over. Because he was soooo much larger than the ducks we had been watching, he appeared closer than he actually was. Now this was my first time in the marsh so I am a newbie, but what do you all do to accurately judge distances in that environment?
 

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I had a hard time with that my first few years out. I found that it was easier over time. When I started hunting over decoys it made it a lot easier because you could use the decoys to judge distance and size.
 

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40 yards i would say yes. I put my decoys out. i put a decoy out and so farr then nothing goes past that decoy and it usley about 40 yards out. so that way i know anything that flys in or over that decoy is in range. Some day i do put a couple decoys out futher and make it look like there swiming in to the spread. Im taking my range finder this year to make shure i have it where i want my futher decoy out to. When you put your decoys out just count your step to where you want you decoy to be. hope this helps you out.
 

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There is a great artical on judging distances in the marsh in the proclamation. Its on page 6. Or if you are an internet junky here is a link. http://www.wildlife.utah.gov/proclamati ... erfowl.pdf
This can be hard to do though. There are so many different sizes of ducks and geese. It can be hard to judge by the size of the game. What I like to do is shoot alot of clay pigeons. Have a thrower go out to 40 yards and shoot alot at this distance. You will notice that when they move farther away you will notice the difference. I think the plan that worked the best for me was to learn how far away 40 yards is. Now anything out side of that looks way to far away and difficult. Im not saying that Im perfect at judging distance, it just helps me. Another thing that I recommend is keep both eyes open. Your eyes have to work together to get any depth preception. I personaly shoot better with both of my eyes open. Some think Im strange when I shot trap and skeet because I dont shoulder my gun till the bird is thrown and I have been able to look at it and get its trajectory. Im rambling. Practice. Thats a good place to start, lots and lots of practice.
 

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Experience is what will get you dialed in. Whether thats clays, or just hunting in the field, experience is how we learn. The decoy thing helps but if you have a high crosser, sometimes its hard and awfully distracting to keep glancing down at your dekes when your shot is overhead. I've never used a rangefinder and might not own one any time soon so that hasn't ever been a possibility for me. I do count steps to my furthest decoy but have just had to learn from mistakes on shooting overhead or crossing shots that weren't right in the dekes. Good luck... once you hunt for a little while, it'll get to where you'll have a feel for it. :wink: I'm probably about the opposite when it came to judging distance though... I was surprised because it was further away than I thought.... kinda odd. 8)
 

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for your crossing and over head shots. if you can see there eyes or feet then they are close enought or you can go by seeing the color on them. For over head shots i use if i can see there eyes they are low enought for taking. for crossing it teh same pretty much. but im not saying this will work for every on on here but that what has helped me out all of my years of hunting.The more you go the more you will learn. Yes dont get me wrong but you will take shot that are a little to farr out and then you wont take shot that you think are to farr and they are closer then you think. I passed up birds that i got told that to farr and they where just right. but then again i have taken shots and they where futher out then i thought.so just try differnt things and more you do it the more you will learn.
 

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Hardwater, I just practice estimating distances all the time as I'm out an about. Keep your rangefinder with you, and look at an object you estimate to be at about 35 yards. Check it with the rangefinder, and repeat. Over and over again. Like you say, its eye/brain training.

Also as was mentioned, putting a decoy just inside a known max. shooting distance is a big help for me. And remember that a duck 40 yards out and 20 yard up is actually 45 yards away. :idea:

Good luck and thanks from the rest of us for being concerned about your shooting distances! :D
 

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Jesse Higgins said:
Good luck and thanks from the rest of us for being concerned about your shooting distances! :D
+1 . . . There have been plenty of times when I've passed shots I probably could've taken but I'd rather pass up a potential shot than shoot at something outside what I consider a good shot (for me that's about 40 yds max taking height into consideration). If you feel comfortable shooting farther, that's cool! Just don't skybust or shoot at birds working someone else and we'll all love ya!
 

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Another thing that helps keep my shooting in range is duck and sex of duck identification.

If you can't tell what kind of duck your looking at and you don't know simply by it's flight pattern or shape, it's too far away to shoot at. If you know the species of duck either by flight pattern or shape, but you can't tell what sex it is.(very important with cans, pinnies, etc.) you probably should hold of till it's closer. Plus, taking good close educated shots usually leads to cleaner kills and that does wonders for your shooting confidence and saves you money on shells. :D

Having a range finder will defiantly help you find your effective range. But, you know what I always say, If you need a rangefinder, your not close enough. :wink:
 

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Yeah, what Tex said. If you can't CLEARLY identify the sex of the bird, it is too far away. Best to see the eyeball.
 

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+ 1 with Tex and rjefre

not only should the birds be close [I pulled out the calculator and found out I rarely shoot past 35 yds, not 40 as mentioned (who cares right???)] but you should be familiar with the species and sex of the bird you're shooting at. If you don't know, don't pull the trigger...and if you do take something that your not sure about, don't continue to shoot them until you know what the heck it is. You might not be able to take any more. Sorry, pet peeve.
 
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