Ten months have passed since the last waterfowl season and if you are anything like me, you are already getting excited for the 2013-2014 season. If you haven’t already started, now is the time to make sure that all of your guns, ammo and gear are in order. Getting a new hunter their hunter safety card is easier than ever too. Here’s four surefire ways to ensure you don’t hit as many ducks as you want to this year.
- Don’t practice shooting except for trap or straight away clay shooting. What does this mean? The most common shots available at ducks and geese are incoming and dropping, passing overhead and crossing, whether right to left or left to right. If you are weak in any of these situations, you need to find a range or at least some space and put a few boxes of shells through the gun so that you develop the proper swing, lead, and technique—before you get in the field.
- Don’t clean, patch, and touch up your decoys. Believe it or not, decoys have a strong influence on the amount of ducks and geese you harvest. The more realistic looking and well set up your decoys, the more likely ducks and geese will be drawn to your spread. Also, properly painted and enhanced decoys with things such as flocked heads or ultraviolet paint will bring wary birds in closer, allowing for more consistent easy shots.
- Don’t scout. This is as important, if not more important, then having properly painted and set up decoys. The easiest way to get birds into your spread is to be where the birds want to be. You may be lucky and have hundreds, or even thousands, of birds working your own private fields or marsh, but most people do not. Even if you do, there will be clear places on the property the birds prefer. Given the choice of an easy hunt, or a hunt on the X where the birds want to be, I will hunt on the X every time. This ensures your shooting is consistent and close, two things helping you kill more birds.
- Don’t disassemble and clean your gun, action and trigger assembly. This is one of the most common mistakes I see people make in the early season. The end of the season in most areas is wet; fields are muddy; the weather is cold, and there can even be snow and ice. Sometimes, in a rush to get dogs, gear, and guns inside and get warm, the “sins of the season” are overlooked. You may not need to clean your gun after every outing—especially with today’s newer rust preventives, camo dipping and tougher, corrosion resistant coatings. That does not mean things still do not build up, especially in a semi-automatic. Gun oil, field dust, marsh mud, small seeds and leaf matter can all work their way inside your gun over the course of a season. As they decompose and coagulate, it can cause issues with action functioning and cycling. Spread a cloth on a clean table and disassemble every part of your gun that you’re comfortable with, cleaning each with the proper solvents and other cleaning products. Use a very light coating of oil where necessary and none where it is not. If you have been particularly negligent, this process teaches you to do it once or twice at least during the season.
Don’t be that guy or gal this year. Prepare yourself and your gear, and you will have a much more enjoyable and successful season.
Do you have a favorite preseason ritual or story about a time when you fell victim to the one of the “Sins of the Season?” Tell us about it in the comment section.