By Jonathan Olivier
“They are not easy to hit, although they fly straight. They fly fast and low to the ground; it’s a very sporty bird.” – Jonathan Walker, Delta Waterfowl Baton Rouge Area chapter chairman
For hunters specifically targeting wood ducks, November is an excellent time to bag a limit – three ducks per person – of the fast-flyers.
Though waterfowl numbers may not be as high as during the second split throughout December and January, early waterfowl season can often mean excellent hunting because ducks aren’t pressured and readily come into range for a shot.
Early in the season, low water and ducks that haven’t been pressured yet not only increase odds of finding concentrated numbers of wood ducks, but the chances of harvesting a limit, as well. And finding out where the ducks are is perhaps the most important piece to the puzzle.
Creatures of Habit
Wood ducks get their designation from where they subsist a majority of the time: in the woods. In fact, they often eat acorns, sleep in hallowed trees and spend time deep under the canopy of trees, as long as there is water.
“The good thing about wood duck hunting is if you can find them, they are easy to pattern,” said Jonathan Walker, Delta Waterfowl Baton Rouge Area chapter chairman. “They are more creatures of habit than most other ducks. They tend to go to the same places each morning and evening until you shot them out of there a few times.”
No Calls Required
Walker, an experienced waterfowl hunter, noted the importance of hunting exactly where the wood ducks are because they are often unreceptive to calling or even decoys.
In fact, Walker said hunters can have success without a call or decoys at all, just by “finding out where they want to be and setting up exactly in that spot.”
Though hunters can, for good measure, tote along a half dozen decoys and a wood duck call, as early season ducks may respond more than those later in the year.
Seek the Swamps
Hunters should target swampy areas with ample cypress trees, a slough or bayou running through the woods, or even low lying areas holding water deep in the woods.
Though even after scouting and patterning a group of birds, don’t expect a flock of wood ducks to fly head on into a decoy spread. They often fly in a pair or alone and may not land on the water at all.
Walker advised to ensure shooting skills are up to par, because a morning of wood duck hunting can easily result in no birds and an empty box of shells.
“They are not easy to hit, although they fly straight,” Walker said. “They fly fast and low to the ground; it’s a very sporty bird.”
For more information on waterfowl season regulations and dates visit wlf.louisiana.gov.