Once the season is open, you can see many waterfowl hunters gleaming with joy.
Not to mention all the business gunsmiths get as people get ready to hunt. These hunters make up 11.5 million from the Northern hemisphere alone.
Hunters head out to areas that support diverse waterfowl populations, some with target lists. However, most places require hunters to get a permit before they venture out. Under the category of waterfowl, most ducks such as mallards are the most common kind. But there are also different species of wild geese.
By incorporating some waterfowl shooting tips, you’re bound to bag both ducks and geese. When the season is over, instead of shelving the guns, find ways to keep practicing. By doing so, you improve your hunting prowess.
How To Practice Waterfowl Shooting
Avid waterfowl hunters know that pro-shooters never bag their shotguns just because the hunting season is up.
It would help if you kept practicing to be better come next season. That’s the only way to bag those elusive waterfowl species.
On that note, there are two ways to keep practicing, which are:
Some people require instructors to guide them while others prefer to learn on their own. If you want to learn on your own, you can self-practice out in the wilderness or open fields. Find areas that are permissible to train and seek relevant targets like doves.
Self-practice works to improve all your skills, especially when you don’t have training schools within reach. Alternatively, some areas require species’ culling, making it the perfect opportunity to hone your waterfowl hunting skills.
A quick search in some places reveals numerous shooting schools ready to help you sharpen your skills.
These shooting schools have a wide range of topics to cover and might offer more insight into waterfowl shooting tips. Also, they ensure you acquire more skills that you’d learn when learning on your own.
All in all, it’s crucial to note the different areas where you can practice waterfowl hunting. It applies even when you attend hunting schools.
Where Can I Practice Waterfowl Hunting?
Practice! Practice makes perfect. The saying rings true for waterfowl hunting, where you need to hone your skills.
Even after attending classes, you need a place to apply all that you learn. It gets better since there are two places you can practice, which include:
Ranges offer the best setting for waterfowl hunting practice. For a small fee, you can keep shooting as you get ready for the season.
Practice shooting at moving targets when at home. Essentially this is the best way to keep shooting skills sharp even when shooting ranges are out of reach or too pricey.
Waterfowl Shooting Tips
Long gone are the days you could spend time out in the field practicing duck shooting for long hours. Today, it’s better to find different tips that come in handy when shooting waterfowl.
So, precisely what waterfowl shooting tips can you have at hand to become the best shooter?
1. Frequent Target Practice
One of the essential waterfowl shooting tips to hone your targeting skills is practicing at a clay target center. So many are available and offer a better way to master waterfowl hunting before the big trip.
Although the clay target incoming flight pattern is predictable, it’s a better way to sharpen your skills rather than just winging it. That way, once you venture out into the wild, you won’t miss all targets.
Additionally, such centers are perfect for those living in areas without a lot of practice wilderness around.
2. Master the Art of Patience
As a beginner, mastering patience is one of the essential attributes of a successful waterfowl hunter. Successful hunting is sitting still for hours on end and even searching through the wilderness to find a specific duck waterfowl species , for example. Lack of patience will see you return home empty-handed and disappointed.
Another way to miss shooting waterfowl is firing too fast when you think you have a shot. Take time with each shot before firing at the waterfowl, especially when in flight. That extra second or two taken might be the best decision made on the hunt.
Therefore, it’s essential to take a pause and think through the shot before taking action. Ignore everything around you, even those urging you on, and focus your shot.
3. Pick a Shotgun that Fits
The positioning of a shotgun must be seamless for a successful shot. Make sure that the shotgun aligns properly from the shoulder blade to the cheek. Also, the eye must also directly down the barrel.
Such a perfect alignment means the shotgun is now an extension of your line of sight. The best way to attain such perfectionism is to get your shotgun serviced by a gunsmith. They’re better equipped to check on how it fits against your body.
Once the gunsmith notes the defects, they can help you attain the perfect alignment before heading out to hunt.
4. Keep Swinging with Each Shot
The same way a golf ball player follows through with each swing, you must keep swinging with every shot. By doing that simple act, you are guaranteed a better chance of hitting your target. When you stop swinging, missing becomes the order of the day.
Not to mention the damage such acts do to your timing. Practice frequent swinging without stopping to get the best co-ordination. Follow through with a swing of the barrel once you take a shot.
5. Don’t Shoot at the Whole Bird
Another of the essential waterfowl shooting tips is not to shoot at the whole bird. Always focus your shot on its eye since this increases your chances of making a kill-shot. Focusing on the entire body might result in only scrapping its tail feathers.
Practice always targeting the bird’s eye because it even helps you to evaluate its distance. Not to mention, if you can’t see a waterfowl’s eye, it’s beyond reach. Only shoot when you can see its eye and focus only on that to make a successful shot.
6. One Bird at a Time
Waterfowl shooting tips will come in handy when you want a successful hunting trip. With that in mind, always focus your shots on one bird at a time.
It’s easy to get excited by a big flock of potential prizes and shoot into them rather than focusing the shot. That’s a wrong move since all it does is scatter them and decrease your chance of hitting any target.
Take time to pick the right target and take time before you fire. Once you have it in your sight, you can take the shot. Only shoot at another bird once the one you’d picked drops.
7. Follow Your Instincts When it Comes to Lead
You can run out of time when you try to compute different scenarios before you take a shot. It’s vital to hold the correct amount of lead, but all scenarios can’t be ideal. It means all the calculating in the world won’t serve you, put in the wild.
Here is where a hunter’s instinct kicks in, and with practice, it can only get better. You can tell when a waterfowl is on the right flight angle, distance, and even line of sight. With that in mind, align the barrel with your line of sight and fire.
Only after that bird drops can you pick another target and shoot at that. With time, it becomes second nature to hold the best lead.
8. Pick Steel Loads Over Toxic Lead Ones
Before steel loads were available, hunters used lead loads that were toxic. Now you can purchase steel loads that are safer to use and pack a hefty punch. As if that’s not enough, it makes it easy to knockdown waterfowl while hunting.
The only downside to steel loads is they tend to lose their punching power after 40 yards. It means you have to get within a reasonable striking distance before taking the shot. On this waterfowl shooting tip, the better alternative to steel is alloy loads of iron or bismuth, in case you want to spend less.
9. Blot and Fire at Waterfowl Coming Head On
At times you face waterfowl that are coming head-on and have to take a shot. Again, patience plays a crucial role here as you wait for it to get within range. Once that takes place, take a position with the barrel being below the bird.
Only take the shot once the front of the barrel manages to blot it. Again remember to select a target bird and not fire at the whole flock. When the bird flies above you, hold beneath it so that you can target its glide path.
10. Keep Practicing
Once the waterfowl hunting season is up, many hunters lock away their guns until the next season. What this does is interfere with all the progress made during the hunting season. All those crucial waterfowl shooting tips are forgotten, and you have to start again.
Take some lessons pre-season and keep sharpening those skills. You can opt to head to a dove field near you and practice now and then. What such areas do is help you advance in terms of distance and angles of targets.
11. Target the Trailing Bird
It seems like the right move to target the first bird, but the best is the trailing or highest one. Ignore what other hunters are doing since they aim for the slowest and easiest targets. If you do the same, you won’t sharpen your hunting skills and be among the top hunters.
Instead, ensure the first shot is to take a trailer, and this way, you can align your shotgun. With such precision, the second and third shots will land you successful hits that most other hunters missed.
12. Spend More Time Out in the Wild
Perhaps one of the best waterfowl shooting tips is to have the best timing. When migrating, most birds land when dusk approaches to rest, and that’s the best time to target a few more before calling it a day.
The ideal time for such a hunting experience is during the migration season. Birds must rest, which makes them sitting targets for patient hunters.
13. Change your Approach
Any stationary decoys easily spook late-season waterfowl like ducks within their line of sight. It’s best to get rid of or hide such lures on calm days and rely on calls.
14. Camouflage the Shotgun
Once winter comes, hunters are known to dress in all white to blend with the surrounding. However, many tend to forget their guns. Yet another one of the essential waterfowl shooting tips is to camouflage the weapon as well.
Shotguns are visible to waterfowl against the white background and spook them before you can align a shot. Perhaps the cheapest way to disguise the gun is to wrap it with white medical gauze.
15. Correctly Position Decoys By Checking the Direction of the Wind
Take time to note in which direction the wind is blowing before you position decoys in the field. It also applies to positioning blinds. The challenge with this is noting the direction on calmer days.
You can easily overcome this by sprinkling a little powder and noting the direction. After that, you can set the blinds and decoys accordingly.
16. Learn to Shoot Doubles While Practicing
Shooting doubles might not be ideal when hunting, but it works when practicing. Learn to shoot doubles when practicing either on the range or at school. It helps you master focusing on one target at a time when out in the wild.
Not to mention the ideal time when this waterfowl hunting tip comes in handy is when facing a large flock. Most hunters get excited and tend to shoot haphazardly. Instead, the best way is to acquire a target and focus only on it, thus blocking out all incoming birds.
17. Experiment with A Wide Variety of Loads and Chokes
A lover of rifles always talks affectionately about tuning its loads to get the best choice. However, this is different for those that use shotguns as they rarely experiment with varying loads.
It’s crucial to master the value of trying out different chokes and loads to get the ones that fit the gun well. Start by purchasing different shell brands, pattern your shotgun with one after the other.
With time, you master the loads that work perfectly with your shotgun, which increases your shots’ success. You can also pick out varying choke tubes branded as aftermarket even though you might have to spend more on them.
18. Always Clean the Duck Call
Ducks remain a favorite of many waterfowl hunters in the Northern hemisphere. For successful hunts, many prefer to use duck calls to attract the birds to within shooting distance.
With time, these duck calls gather particles in them, including food and dust. One quick waterfowl shooting tip is regular cleaning.
To properly clean the duck call, start by removing the stopper. Once you have the plug and barrel at hand, please place them in a cleaning cup. Follow this by adding soapy water and let them soak for 30 minutes.
Once the time elapses, remove them and rinse under running clean water. Dry the two pieces on a rack, then use a floss to remove any clinging particles before reassembling.
19. Get a Dry Storage Container
Paint a dry storage container to match your camouflage and fill it with essentials. It would help if you had a first aid kit, dry clothes, shells, and other essential items. On top of it serving as storage space, you can use it as a seat.
A place to patiently sit when hunting comes in handy, especially when waiting for the waterfowl to fly in. On the hunt, timing is everything.
Dry storage need not be bulky, but it’s best to choose a size that fits all your essentials, including snacks and sleeping gear.
Becoming invisible might seem like an obvious tip, but it’s not as easily achieved when waterfowl hunting. Step one to disappearing is purchasing the right outfit to match the surrounding. The best way to do so is first to understand the area you want to go hunt.
What are the dominant colors in that area? Is it full of green plants or brownish surroundings? Getting that right helps you buy a camo that perfectly blends with your surroundings. That way, you match the surrounding vegetation and can successfully hunt.
Waterfowl shooting tips are essential to all avid hunters who want to improve their hunting skills.
By frequently applying them, each trip can be successful. Not to mention how great it feels to get better at something that you enjoy.