It used to be a duck-hunting rule that you should always hunt waterfowl during the early hours of the morning, preferably after dawn.
But this is no longer an essential rule to follow, nor is it always realistic, especially during winter when it may be harder to get out of bed before the sun comes up.
What affects the time when you should hunt ducks? One of the biggest concerns is the weather. While you can hunt ducks in the morning, afternoon, and evening, if weather conditions aren’t ideal this will affect your hunt the most.
Weather permitting, if you want to hunt ducks in the afternoon or evening, we’ve got the lowdown on their pros and cons. Let’s jump right in so you can see which time of day will be best for you.
Afternoon Duck Hunting
If you want to sleep in a bit in the morning and head out to your hunting site later in the afternoon, you might worry you will have missed the rush of birds and wasted your time out there.
Is this so? Let’s check out the pros and cons of duck hunting in the afternoon.
- Some ducks, such as divers, won’t fly until the middle of the morning, so hunting from midday onwards will be more beneficial. To make the most of this situation, it’s a good idea to set up your hunting site within close proximity to roosting locations or feeding areas where ducks fly to and from, so make sure you scout the area well beforehand.
- Ducks sometimes choose to fly at midday. This can happen as a result of weather conditions, the timing of their migratory flights, and their feeding habits.
- Waterfowl are active from the middle of the afternoon until after sunset. It’s a misconception to think that ducks are only active before sunrise until the middle of the morning.
- When there’s a full moon, an afternoon hunt is advantageous. This is because during full moons ducks eat at night and then rest in the mornings. By the afternoon, they become more active.
- If many of the hunters in your area are trying to hunt ducks in the mornings or evenings, you’ll have an advantage over them by hunting in the afternoon. Ducks won’t expect it, so you’ll be able to bring them into your hunting area with the use of decoys and calls.
- Later in the season, ducks are known to become more active at midday and in the afternoons. This is because the weather is colder, so ducks will start to move and forage for food when the day warms up.
- The weather will be hotter. If you’re hunting during warm weather, you can expect it to become hotter as the day progresses. Afternoons, from around midday, are usually the hottest times and this can make your hunting less comfortable.
- It’s not ideal to hunt during fair weather when there are clear skies. While you might think that a warm, sunny, and clear day is best for duck hunting, this isn’t actually the case. Too much bright sunlight can cause ducks to easily notice you, especially in the afternoon, as the light reflects off your clothing, gear, and accessories.
- If there have been other hunters in the area earlier in the day, going in to hunt ducks might be tricky, especially if you’re a beginner. You might be dealing with ducks that have already been spooked by hunters that day.
Evening Duck Hunting
If the disadvantages associated with afternoon duck hunting have put you off a bit, it might be better to head out to your hunting site even later – during the evening.
Is this a good idea? Let’s see what evening duck hunting is all about.
- Ducks sometimes move to their roosting areas in the hours before dark. Therefore, if you set up your hunting site just before the sun goes down, you’ll be in an advantageous position to track ducks that are heading to roost.
- Sometimes, choosing the best time of day to hunt waterfowl isn’t only about what the ducks will be doing, but also about what will ensure you’ll have the most energy to bring to the hunt. Hunting duck in the evening gives you a chance to complete other tasks before hunting. This also gives you a chance to boost your energy during the day.
- Evening hunts are valuable because when the temperature decreases, ducks sometimes go to their water sources for the last feeding of the day before they head to roost. If you’re positioned well to see them along the way, you’ll should have a successful hunt.
- You might not have as much hunter competition during the evening, as many hunters will have chosen to hunt earlier in the day, some even before sunrise. This will ensure you can get to the birds first.
- By tracking ducks in the evening when they’re headed to feed or to roost, you won’t need to make as much use of hunting methods like duck calls, especially since these birds won’t be as responsive at this time of day.
- You can make the most of their roosting behavior. Ducks sometimes move from one loafing and roosting location to another in an attempt to conserve their energy, especially if the weather is cold. You can track them by learning their routes.
- Hunting ducks in the evening isn’t usually allowed. You might have to stop hunting at sunset, which restricts the time you have at your disposal.
- Hunting when the light is bad can be tricky. You’ll require extra hunting equipment and accessories, such as torches and headlamps, and using these incorrectly can spook the ducks.
- Evening duck hunts can be colder, and therefore more miserable if the temperature is low in your region. This can make it more difficult for you to get out there and brave the plummeting temperature.
What duck decoys are best on windy days?
If you’re hunting ducks when it’s windy, you should make use of realistic decoys such as sock decoys and motion decoys.
Why can’t you hunt ducks after sunset?
The rule about not hunting ducks after sunset is because the birds need to have a comfortable and safe roosting location at night.
Is it wrong to hunt roosting ducks?
Hunting roosting ducks is considered taboo because the duck roost is when they can rest in a safe place. They’re vulnerable, giving the hunter an unfair advantage.
If you’re not sure if you should hunt waterfowl in the afternoon or evening, we’ve provided you with the pros and cons for both times of the day so you can choose the best time to hunt.
It’s clear to see that both afternoon and evening duck hunting have their advantages and disadvantages for hunters. It’s what you do with the time that counts!