BRIAN JOHNSON ON OUTDOORS: Preparations for duck season

Published 8:45 pm Saturday, June 30, 2018

The brutal summer heat causes my mind to drift.

I find myself thinking of the fall and even the winter. I picture myself with my favorite chocolate Labrador “Penny”. We are sitting in a perfectly designed duck blind with all of the comforts of home.  I have a nice chair and the blind has a solid floor.

All of the camouflage is just perfect. No need for a heater because I have the latest in cold weather gear to keep me dry and comfortable.

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As a flock of ducks jets across the sky, I hit a few perfect notes on my perfectly tuned duck call.

The group makes a quick turn and start back pedal as they gently drift down into my meticulously placed decoy spread.  I rise from my chair, shoulder my trusty 12-gauge auto loader, and drop the hammer.

Bang, bang, bang … three shots leads to three dead ducks, belly up with feet in the air floating on the pond.  Penny remains statue-like until I call her name. She quickly recovers all three ducks and delivers them to hand. After her retrieves, she returns to her stand and continues to scan the sky for more waterfowl.

I pour a myself a cup of coffee and the fresh aroma is amazing.  After a few sips,  it’s back to hunting and enjoying God’s great outdoors with my family and friends.

What a dream!  The truth is that duck season will be here before you know it, and if you want to turn those day dreams into reality, it is time to get to work. Here are a few things you can begin to do now that will pay big dividends when the waterfowl season opens this fall:

1. Practice your calling

It has been proven many times that being a good duck caller can help increase your bag of birds. Find someone experienced to help or use an instructional tape or YouTube video.

The main thing is to start practicing early so you can have time to hone your skills.  Don’t forget to use a whistle as well. A great widgeon or teal call can be quite productive.

Uncle Bob’s Widgeon Blaster is a new call on the market that seems to work great on those days they are not responding to a traditional mallard call. Regardless of the call, practice is the key.  I’ll go ahead and give you guys a secret tip … don’t practice indoors in the presence of women.  There is something about a duck call that is offensive to their ears.  Trust me on this one!

2. Get your decoys ready

The best way to ruin a good hunt is to show up with a bag full of tangled up decoys that need to be untangled in the dark.

Go through your decoys now.  Make sure they don’t hold water.  If they do, either caulk the holes, fill with foam, or discard.

Leaky decoys have no place in my life. This is a good time to do some touch-up painting as well as replace the messed up weights.

If you are still using trotline string and a lead weight and wrapping it around the keel or neck, it’s time to join the 21st century.  Texas rigs are the only way to go. Do yourself a favor and make the switch. You can thank me later.

3. Train your dog

Don’t expect ole Mallard Muncher to do a good job if he spends the summer laying on the couch eating bacon treats.  Either train him yourself or send him to a trainer.  Fifteen minutes a day four days a week should be sufficient if you do the right drills.

4.  Prepare your blind

This can mean different things depending on where you hunt.

It can be anything from getting the boat-blind some new grass to working on the actual grass in your pond.  If you hunt public land, then there won’t be any working the land, but if your place is private, you may consider herbicide, snake raking, or a controlled burn as the season approaches.

The main idea is to not wait until the last minute to prepare your spot. Along with this will include making sure your boat or ATV is in top shape to get you to the blind. The closer it gets to hunting season, the busier mechanics might get, so take care of all repairs in advance.

5. Work on your shooting

It’s time to bring out old trusty rusty and shoot a few practice rounds.

A monthly round or two of skeet or sporting clays will do wonders for your shot-to-kill ratio.  If you are like me, you probably noticed that you shoot better at the end of season than at the beginning.

Do you ever wonder why? Practice is the key.  The more familiar you are with your firearm, the better you will perform. Use these next few months to sharpen your shooting skills. The benefits are many. More ducks, a greater sense of accomplishment, and piles of money saved on shells.

This is not an all-inclusive list, but it should get you headed in the right direction. Remember the more effort you put into duck hunting, the more you will get out of it. Happy hunting and don’t forget to introduce some newbies to our sport this season.

Brian Johnson, originally of Port Neches, is pastor of the Outdoorsman’s Church in Winnie, owner of and outdoors writer for The News.

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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