How to Keep Ducks Returning to Your Blind

I've just returned to the office after two days of waterfowling with my buddy Jeff Johnston on Delaware's eastern shore. Our hunting area was a small pond bordered by marshland near the Delaware Bay, and on the first morning it quickly became apparent that we were "on the X." Look at all the mallards and blacks pouring in at first light:

The action seemed to stretch on foreverrarely have I seen such a sustained bombardment of birds. We shot a few mallards, blacks, gadwalls and teal, but we opted to leave well before filling our limits. It wasn't easy to walk away from a duck-filled sky, but I knew that if we rested the pond, we could hunt it again the next day.

I've made the mistake of over-hunting a hot blind before, but I'd rather get two, three or even four good days out of a blind than one good shoot. So I shoot a few ducks and leave, especially if the ducks are decoying in large groups. Consider that every time you shoot into a large flock, you're alerting a significant number of birds to the blind. Alternatively, every group of ducks that's allowed to rest or feed at your vacated blind is one that's likely to return the next day. If the birds are decoying in pairs or singles, however, it's okay to hunt a little longer. Better to educate a duck or two than a dozen or more.

There are some exceptions to this rule: If I'm hunting a popular public area, I know the ducks are going to be pressured regardless whether I stay, so I generally do; if I expect weather to drive the ducks south and/or bring a new push of birds from the north, I'll stay—the ducks I educate today won't be the ones I hunt tomorrow; and if it's the last week or two of the season, I figure I may as well burn out a spot or two.

Anyhow, our decision to vacate the blind panned out nicely. The hunting was only slightly slower the second day, and we again bagged a good number of ducks. By resting the blind during the previous afternoon, we allowed dozens of birds to come in, relax and make plans to return for breakfast. And instead of limiting out one day and being bored the next, we shot three quarters of a limit two days in a row.

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