As we enter the last few calendar days before general waterfowl seasons begin, one can’t help but feel at least a small level of unpredictability of how the 2020-2021 waterfowl season will transpire. We’re waterfowl hunters, sure, and we’re known for our ability to quickly adapt and roll with the punches. However, having lived through the last few months, one can’t help but be a little apprehensive. While this is surely the most anticipated waterfowl season many of us have ever prepared for, it still may come with a few reservations of feelings of the unknown. Homework, research, scouting, and all the things generally necessary to create a solid ground game will undoubtedly play a much larger role in your upcoming seasons success.
Public Hunting – Let’s start here. Many waterfowl hunters rely every year on the public hunting opportunities their state or neighboring states allow. This might not even be an option this year. An area may not be totally closed but opportunity may be much more limited. Educate yourself on any new regulations sooner than later. Research additional areas and plan on putting a few more dollars into the fuel budget. Pick up the phone and call local area managers and ask specific questions. While you may end up gunning on new turf this season, always be mindful of other fellow hunters. Regardless of shots fired and birds bagged, don’t overlook the Golden Rule.
Area waterways – Waterfowl highways typically present great hunting opportunity. Maybe you own a boat, or maybe you don’t, you don’t want to overlook public waters and access to them. Whether a creek, a reservoir or small river, these areas generally see staging waterfowl as they venture down the migration corridor. Scout accesses and monitor water levels, as both of these will play a big part in overall success. Timber-lined Creek banks, driftwood covered sandbars and properly concealed boat blinds are great places to be during the peak of the migration. With bigger water comes bigger responsibility. Don’t take any unnecessary chances. Always follow all safety regulations and have a surefire retrieval process in place for downed birds.
Go with an outfitter – Take that trip! You know exactly what I’m talking about here. Whether it’s Canada Geese in North Dakota barley stubble to Mallard Ducks in the majestic Arkansas green timber get that hunt on the calendar now. There are more reputable waterfowl outfitters now in North America then ever before, and their services effectively cover any waterfowl-hunting scenario you can dream of. Don’t catch yourself saying “maybe next year” ever again.
Freelance – Gather a group and hit the road. Not all northbound waterfowl highways lead to Canada. Cash in some of that hard-earned vacation time and get some windshield time. You already have an idea of where you want to go (this goes along with the “maybe next year” pass off previously mentioned). It might be a new area, and it will take some time to learn, but basic waterfowl hunting knowledge still applies. Once you know the lay of the land a group can travel many directions and scout effectively. Make a few phone calls ahead of you road trip to reserve lodging or you can sleep in your truck. Another benefit of traveling north to waterfowl hunt is the opportunity to experience a new area during its prime time, leaving the best part of your season at home ready for you when you return. Don’t forget your binoculars and have fun!