Waterfowl Guide Mike Miller Explains How to Take Late Season Honkers and Quacks
Day 1: Guide Mike Miller Tells What You Need to Know Before You Go for Late Season Waterfowl
Editor’s Note: Mike Miller of Colorado is consumed with waterfowl hunting. He hunts and guides for both ducks and geese in eastern Colorado and western Nebraska. This week Miller will give Night Hawk’s readers the five secrets for taking late-season ducks and geese.
You can’t be effective taking waterfowl, if you don’t put in the time to scout before the hunt. Before I hunt any area, I will go 2 days before and scout for waterfowl. I want to know where the ducks are in the morning, where they’re feeding, and what’s the exact spot where they land when they leave the roost and start to feed. This tactic is especially effective when you are hunting geese in fields. When you’re hunting ducks, you need to scout the same way, except you want to see where the ducks want to land on the waterways or back waters that you plan to hunt. By following these steps, 9 times out of 10, if the weather and water conditions don’t change, you should have ducks and/or geese in your face on the day of the hunt.
One of the most-important factors when you are hunting, after you locate where the ducks or the geese want to be is to then try and determine how many waterfowl are coming to that spot to feed. If you only see two or three flights of birds coming to a site, and there is only four to six birds in each flight, you know that your hunt will be over quickly at that place. But if you see 30-40 ducks or geese in a flight coming in all morning, then this hunting place will be much more productive than the area where you’ve seen fewer birds. Also look at where other flights are landing. Those first one or two flights may land in the same spot, but later flights may land in another place. So, when you are scouting, try and determine which site is having the most flights land during the morning hours. Scouting an area and thinking you know exactly where the birds will land isn’t uncommon. But on the day you hunt, the ducks and geese may be landing 1/4-mile away from you. Once you have pinpointed the spot where you think the most birds are coming in, check all the places they may be within about a mile of where you think they will be.
Another critical factor when you are scouting is to make sure there is still food in the spot where the birds are feeding. For instance, you may see a lot of geese coming into a corn field and lighting in one area. After the birds leave the field, if you don’t go and see if there is still food for them to eat when they return during the next 2 days, you may set-up on a spot where the geese and ducks once fed, but not where they will be feeding on the day of your hunt.
When you are scouting for ducks and trying to plan a duck hunt, weather may be as important if not more important than picking the right place to hunt. You need to make sure there will be some wind on the day you’re hunting, and you need to learn which way the wind will be blowing, and if there will be a warm front, a cold front or stable weather. Once you know the probable wind direction and what type of weather you’ll have, then look for a place to hide when you are hunting. If you will be hunting from a natural blind, remember you need plenty of overhead cover to hunt ducks, especially in the late season.
If you will be hunting from a river bank and ice is on the water, make sure you know what is under the water; especially if you are going to use a dog to retrieve your ducks or geese. Where there’s ice or no ice, you want to make sure when your dog jumps in the water and begins to swim that he will be safe from your blind to where he goes to retrieve the ducks or geese. Remember, too, by the late season, ducks and geese have seen every type of blind imaginable. They have seen numbers of decoy spreads and heard a lot of calling. So, if you can find where the ducks want to be before the hunt, pinpoint a good place to hide from the ducks and geese, make sure they still have a reason to come to that spot on the day you’ll be hunting, check the weather forecast to make sure you’ll have favorable weather, then you’ll drastically increase your odds for taking waterfowl. You may not be able to take the birds without calling and without decoys.
To get in touch with Miller, you can email him at email@example.com or contact him on Facebook. Watch Miller’s YouTube videos: How to Use a Duck Call and
How to Tune a Duck Call.
To learn more about hunting and cooking all species, go to John’s Author Page for a list of his print books still available and his Kindle books.
About the Author
John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.