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Reality of Duck Hunting Today

1807 Views 5 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Clarq
Let me start by saying this post is not intended to look for specific info on hunt areas. 20 years ago I hunted waterfowl 2-4 times a week and shot cases of shells-- all across the State. Excluding the crowds on opening day, we had some great hunts and, while the areas were slightly crowded at times, we could always get away from the masses. Life took some different turns and my marsh trips took a huge dive in trip numbers. I haven't hunted a marsh in 15+ years. I jump shoot a river or two each year, but my oldest is 16 and he, or his younger brother, have never shot a duck over dekes (and I have dozens of dekes under a layer of dust).

I need to get my sons out and let them decide if they want to be duck hunters. So tell me how it is now!
Can guys reasonably walk in some areas or are mud boats/air boats needed?
Is it as crowded as some of the posts lead me to think?
I hunted pre-Frag. Frag"ed-in" areas worry me. An old hunting buddy said some of our favorite areas are now frag. Is it that bad?
Are duck numbers up?
Do I need a mojo or whatever they call them now? I hunted pre mojos and just as they came into popularity. Seemed like ducks were drawn to spreads with motors.
I understand we are freezing up, but maybe that will keep the fair-weather hunters home or maybe there are so many hunters it doesn't matter.

Those of you who hunted 20 years ago and those now-- give me some ideas on how it has changed and how I need to change.
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I started ducks again last year, after 30 years of not hunting them. I believe that a boat is not really a must, but sure can get you to some out of the way places. I have been out with some nice guys(fowl) and a friend that takes me when ever the 2 of us can get together. I have walked to some isolated areas, but probably the fact of not having decoys and when I call it sounds like I'm blowing my nose. Still have had some shots but not as much as in a boat. But I will keep at it as I'm liking it a lot.:mrgreen:
How about we load up the boat and they decide??

You have my number. Use it anytime.
I started hunting waterfowl 26 years ago, before mudmotors, mojos, neoprene waders with boots and all that other fancy stuff. You never heard the word "phrag" and there were very few places that would offer a decent hide after the big flood in the 80's. Lake, mudflats and canals with little cover were the norm around most of the GSL marshes. If you were lucky you could find a few tumbleweeds to build a blind.

Fast forward two and a half decades, now we have phragmites, less water and parking lots full of boat trailers. (notice how I didn't say more hunters?) The only time I have noticed large crowds is opening day, which really isn't all that different than it was when I started this whole waterfowl thing.

You do not need a boat to be successful, you do however need to be in the right spot at the right time. Again no different than years ago. Location is key, especially this time of the year as things begin to freeze and transition from warm to cold.

The bottom line is I shot ducks before mudboats, mojos, neoprene waders, fancy duck calls, $200 decoys and all that other stuff. I don't believe duck hunting has evolved into anything different than it used to be, other than the way products are marketed to make us think we can't shoot a duck without them.

Take your boys and learn together. I'm still learning new things all the time, and I appreciate all the guys I hunt with more and more each year too.

P.S take wiley up on his offer, he will treat you right.
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Fowl and Huge-- Thanks for the thoughts. I started hunting waterfowl in 1985 and was as die-hard as one could get in the 1990s. I feel confident in my abilities to kill birds, but the unknowns of the marshes put me off a little.

Wiley- Awfully nice of you to offer. I'll see if we can't line something up to get out together.
I very rarely have issues with crowds except on opening day, or on the main dikes at Howard Slough or Farmington Bay (so I typically avoid those places). I rarely use a mojo and I usually manage a few birds. I've also never owned a boat. Back when I started hunting, I used to envy boaters, and would have loved to get my own. Now, I'm not sure I even want one. They're a very helpful tool, but I've found I don't need one to be successful (and I need the exercise I get from walking/biking anyway).

We do get a fair bit of negativity on this forum about the phrags, the crowds, etc., but I wouldn't let it worry you. It's easy to avoid (or deal with) those problems if you're willing to drive and explore. The phrags have definitely changed the marshes, but there are still a lot of places you can get to and hunt.

I think you've got a lot of opportunity in the marshes near the GSL. It will be a different scene and a different game than it was 20 years ago, but all of the same rules apply: 1) Find the birds 2) get to them 3) bring them in close enough to shoot. If you've done that in years past, you can probably do it again.

It does get quite a bit harder for me when everything freezes up. I usually end up out on the shores of the GSL shooting shovelers with everyone else. Even so, I do know of a few other places I can find birds in the winter. They haven't been easy to find, and in most cases, others know about them too.
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