How To Hunt Ducks Without Decoys

Guide for duck hunt without decoys

If you usually depend on having a good spread of decoys when waterfowl hunting, you might be surprised to learn that you can successfully hunt ducks without them.

There are several tried-and-tested methods that enable you to do this.

While decoys are useful when hunting, there are times when they’re not beneficial, such as late in the hunting season when the ducks are used to seeing lots of decoys and aren’t as easily tricked.

During this time, it’s a good idea to skip the decoy spread. We’ve put together some of the best ways to duck hunt without decoys. 

How To Hunt Without Decoys

If you’re interested in trying to bag more ducks without the help of decoys, there are some important guidelines you should follow.

Scout In Advance

Hunter inspecting hunting area

Always suss out the hunting area in advance as this will help you learn about the ducks’ habitat, as well as their movements, helping you increase your hunting success.

Here are some tips for scouting for ducks: 

  • Use binoculars to see where the ducks are flying overhead. 
  • Check local fields, ponds, and lakes, especially hidden areas where ducks might conceal themselves behind vegetation. 
  • Ducks sometimes head to ponds to rest during the day. 
  • After discovering locations where the ducks will feed or rest, wait for them there. 
  • Check what other waterfowl hunters are doing, but try to build a network. For example, your network can include farmers, other hunters, and game wardens. 

Use Natural Funnels

Natural funnels are areas you encourage ducks to enter so that you can better control their movements. This is like a natural decoy because you use landscape features to direct the ducks to where you want them to be!

So, for example, if you’re hunting in a certain area where there are trees on both sides of a riverbank, the trees form a natural funnel, where you can effectively hunt ducks. 

These natural funnels are essential if you’re not using decoy spreads. Other examples of natural funnels you should take advantage of when duck hunting include the following: 

  • Shorelines. 
  • Channels.
  • Feeder creeks. 

It’s important to bear in mind that scouting the area is essential for locating a natural funnel. If you know that ducks in the area move in a straight line to their feeding area, or they follow tree lines or the shoreline, those are the areas you should focus on.

Extra Camouflage

extra camouflage for shoozing spot

Make sure you’re wearing camouflage that conceals you in the environment, especially as there won’t be a spread of duck decoys to draw the ducks’ attention.

Hiding yourself is only one part of the equation—you also need to properly conceal your blind. Here are some concealment tips to bear in mind:

  • Remain as still as possible. It’s a natural battle to stay motionless during a hunt. But, if even your head moves with the birds, this can cause the sun to glare off your face and alert the ducks to your presence.
  • Be careful with duck calls. While you can purchase various duck calls to mimic the sounds that ducks make in the wild, don’t overuse them or use them incorrectly, it will only alarm them.
  • Reduce reflections from the sun. Blend into your natural environment as much as possible. Use face paint, avoid guns that have a shiny finish, and cover any other reflective surfaces, such as jacket zips.
  • Hide your layout blind. Try to make your layout blind look like the surrounding environment. 
  • Cover it with mud, this will prevent its sheen material from reflecting. 
  • Cover it with material from your surroundings, such as long grasses, branches, etc. 
  • Dig a pit about six inches large to fit your blind in. This helps the blind seem like part of the environment, while also reducing any shadows it casts.  

Methods Of Duck Hunting Without Decoys

If you’re not using decoys (or duck calls), you should rely on these three duck-shooting methods, as they focus on the element of surprise.  

Jump shooting

Jump shooting method

This is when you basically “jump” ducks to take them by surprise, whether in ponds, rivers or on shorelines. Here are some tips for this method: 

  • Keep your gun light. You’ll be carrying it around with you so you’ll need a supportive sling to prevent strains in your muscles. A sling also ensures you can be quick on your feet. 
  • Focus on shooting ducks at the outer edge of the flock. If you try to shoot the middle of the group, this can wound many ducks instead of getting a kill. 
  • Scout the area. Finding resting areas for the ducks will help you to sneak around to jump-shoot them when they’re napping. 
  • Stalk and hide. Use features in the landscape that enable you to stalk your prey. Hide in wetlands or marshes, or behind trees. Camo that matches the surroundings is also essential.  

Pass Shooting

Pass shooting is shooting ducks as they fly overhead. You’ll have to practice your shooting to do this. A good tip is to go to the skeet field and shoot as many skeet rounds as you can to get better at your shots. 

Here are some other tips for this method: 

  • Take your time to track the ducks so you can see where they fly. Ducks fly from their nesting areas to their feeding grounds, usually early and late in the day.
  • Don’t try to shoot a flying duck too quickly. This will scare the other ducks. A good tip is to wait for about half a dozen ducks to arrive, then shoot the ones that are coming into the landing site.
  • Be careful when shooting ducks that are getting ready to land. Avoid shooting ducks too close to the ground if there are other animals or hunters around.

Drift Hunting

Hunter waits in smal kayak

Drift hunting is when you float along small waterways. It’s about surprising the ducks by shooting them, so it’s similar to jump shooting.

You’ll need to get into a boat and float downstream. You don’t need any special gear and you can let the water current carry you along. As you see ducks, shoot them.

Here are some tips for this method: 

  • Choose a low-profile boat so it doesn’t draw attention. It should also allow hands-free operation. A kayak that needs to be pedaled to move is a good choice.
  • Stay away from fast currents. Ensure you find water where there are hiding places for ducks, such as bends and vegetation along the shore.
  • Stay as quiet as possible and keep the boat pointed straight ahead.
  • Wear camo clothing and cover your face with paint or mud.
  • Take time to scout the river a few times so you become accustomed to where the ducks spend their time. This will help you take them by surprise. 

Should You Invest In Decoys?

Advatnages of Duck decoys

Decoys for duck hunting have many advantages. These include the following: 

  • They enable you to direct ducks to where you want them to land, but you have to scout the area beforehand so that you place them where ducks will be attracted to them.
  • They attract ducks to you, which can help you to remain concealed in your environment.
  • There are a variety of duck decoys, so you can set up the most effective spread. Keep the decoys fresh by mixing different types, especially later in the hunting season when ducks have seen lots. 

Related Questions 

Here are some frequently asked questions about duck decoys.

How many duck decoys do you need?

If you want to use duck decoys, ensure you have at least two dozen to set up a good spread. Large waterfowl numbers represent safety to real ducks.

Which ducks are difficult to fool with decoys?

The black duck is notoriously difficult to trick with duck decoys, they’re smart and easily spooked.  

Conclusion 

If you want to hunt ducks without decoys, you have many options at your disposal. In this article, we’ve explained the best hunting tips for when you don’t have decoys.

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