High Quality Duck Hunting On A Budget
Duck Hunting does not have to break the bank . There are many ways to cut the costs down.
You can still go out and have all the enjoyment of a great hunt.
Here are some fantastic ideas and tips for the regular guys and gals who want a great duck hunting experience .
Duck Hunting on a Budget
Enjoy high-quality hunting without breaking the bank
Big bucks! No, not the kind that grow antlers, but what many duck hunters spend to fund their sport .
Hunters can experience quality duck hunting while sticking to a budget. Penny-pinching hunters may have to hunt a little harder and smarter, but they can still find high-quality waterfowling.
The quality of a hunt doesn’t always rate proportionally to its cost. Here’s how to cut corners to hold duck hunting expenses down and still enjoy great shooting.
Hunting Spots for Budget-Minded Hunters
For starters, forget the private clubs and leases. Owning or leasing a prime duck spot can cost a prince’s ransom. However, there are plenty of options available to budget-minded hunters. All you have to do is find them.
Public areas? Aren’t they always overcrowded and hyper-gunned? Some are, but others aren’t. The best-known areas with the most ducks can be mob scenes. However, other areas that don’t draw as many birds may still offer good shooting. This is where the “hunt a little harder” part comes in.
Another option is figuring out how to outhustle the competition on heavily pressured areas. This may mean going in earlier, walking in deeper, or staying out longer. Other hunters weren’t willing to get out so early, so we routinely claimed this prize.
Budget-conscious hunters shouldn’t rule out hunting on private lands. Good shooting may be available to those who find landowners willing to grant hunting permission. You’ll never know until you ask.
Also, don’t overlook private ponds and watershed lakes.
Float-hunting is almost a lost art, but sometimes small rivers and streams can hold good numbers of ducks. This is especially true during a freeze, when shallow wetlands are locked up and the birds shift to moving water.
You don’t have to be in the heart of the flyway to experience good duck hunting. In fringe areas, ducks may be fewer in number, but hunting pressure will also be reduced.
I’ve hunted from duck blinds whose owners had invested small fortunes on electricity, plumbing, full kitchens, and even lounge areas. But these features certainly weren’t necessary for hunting success. Many of my best hunts have come as I’ve huddled in brush, leaned against trees, or sprawled in muddy fields or on sandbars.
Highly effective blinds can be constructed with a few poles (cut your own), some camo netting, plastic zip ties, and natural vegetation.
A layout blind is another excellent option for budget-minded hunters. Some initial investment is required, but a layout blind’s twin advantages of mobility and full, fast concealment more than justify its cost. Layout blinds can be used in open fields, mudflats, sandbars, and other spots where ducks like to work and hunters without layout blinds have difficulty hiding.
Then there is the no-blind (and no-cost) option: concealing yourself in natural cover. On-site cattails, saw grass, willow trees, tree trunks, and other natural vegetation can provide the best of all concealment when it comes to avoiding detection by circling ducks.
Low-Cost Decoy Spreads
The decoy spread is another area where hunters can cut expenses. While there’s no question that hunting over a large spread of realistic decoys is effective, just a few good decoys set in the right place can also entice ducks to come in. In many cases, a couple of dozen decoys will suffice.
In situations where ducks will be working close or there’s no competition, standard-size decoys will fill the bill. When purchasing decoys, alert hunters can save big bucks by looking for catalog or website “hot buys,” online postings, and even estate sales.
And then there are black plastic bottles. Years ago my hunting partners and I collected several dozen one-gallon milk jugs, dipped them in cold roofing pitch thinned with gasoline, and let them dry. Then we rigged these jugs with line and anchors and scattered them among the regular decoys in our large open-water spread. They would land right beside the jugs with no hint of suspicion.
Saving Dollars on Equipment
duck hunters use a broad range of other gear, and with almost every purchase, there is an opportunity to cut costs. For instance, hundred-dollar acrylic or wooden calls are nice to own, but many companies make $25 plastic calls that play beautiful duck music.
There may be some prestige in shooting a handsome over/under shotgun or a high-dollar autoloader, but more ducks have probably been taken with field-grade pump shotguns than any other type.
Since lead shot was banned for waterfowl hunting, ammo companies have marketed a range of nontoxic shot alternatives, including modern alloys that are even denser and more effective than lead. In my experience, less expensive steel shot loads are capable of cleanly taking ducks at reasonable ranges.
Waders are one area where duck hunters shouldn’t scrimp on quality. Tough waders with good foot insulation and features including pockets, shell loops, and D-rings are recommended.
Hunters frequently need a boat to pursue waterfowl, but new camo-covered boats and outboards can definitely be budget-busters. Instead, consider buying a used rig and camouflaging it yourself. Also, for two-man hunts on smaller, quieter waters, a canoe or johnboat and paddles are a low-cost alternative to a larger boat and motor.
Duck hunters commonly use camo clothing, a blind bag, binoculars, a thermos, flashlights, decoy gloves, mechanical decoys, and other accessories. But none of these items is an absolute necessity.
Save Money; Hire a Guide
For some hunters, saving money may actually mean hiring a guide for a couple of hunts each season instead of hunting on their own. Comparing the cost of a guide to buying gear and all the other expenses involved with hunting on your own may tilt favorably to the first option. As a result, if you can hunt only a few days a season, a guide may be the best value for your limited hunting dollars.
Strategies for Hunting Ducks on a Budget
Finding hunting spots and having the essentials are important, but it all comes down to what you do with what you have. Budget-minded hunters should look for a niche—a place, strategy, or time that other hunters don’t know about or won’t interfere with. Waterfowlers on a budget need to make up in knowledge and ability what they lack in cash, and there are several good ways to do this.
Another dependable strategy is learning where ducks go under various weather and water conditions and moving with them. After a heavy rain, fresh floodwater rising into fields or bottomland woods can attract large numbers of ducks. During a hard freeze, ducks may shift to rivers and lakes where water is still open.
By learning where and when to hunt, waterfowlers can stay in the action.
When it comes to hunting strategies, cost-conscious hunters should remember two Cs: complacency and creativity. You must replace the first with the second. Try to find ducks that other hunters aren’t pressuring, and then figure out how to hunt them.
Have the Right Mindset
Hunting ducks on a budget involves being frugal rather than frivolous. It means spending on necessities, but not gimmicks. It requires making up in effort what you conserve in cash outlay. Overall, duck hunting on a budget involves a mindset of thriftiness, but not an acceptance of mediocre shooting. More dollars don’t necessarily equate to more ducks.
Article by : Wade Bourne
Photo’s : Avery Outdoors