Class is in session......


Well-Known Member
This is a great thread from the Refuge forums from a well respected member (Calikev) that I thought I would share here for all of us to add too and learn from.

Most common mistakes waterfowlers make...... Recent discussions have got me thinking about some of the more common mistakes we ALL have made during our hunting careers. In no particular order here are some of the most common mistakes that I have learned about through trial and error:

Lack of patience - You learn that waiting things out most often pays dividends. Many call it a day too soon or go for walks at inopportune times.

Lack of scouting - Many hunt areas they know very little about. It's okay if you are going in with a scouting mindset, but drawing an opening day card and expecting instant success and never hunting there seldom works out. Use the off season, clean up days, etc. to check things out. Go out mid day on slow days and take a walk or bike ride with careful consideration to be set up or gone by the time the hunting gets good. Watch and learn.

Shooting at every duck/poor shot selection/shooting too high - Shooting mistakes are common. Once learning to work birds, one realizes he can set up birds on the right pass for the right shot. Yet on other days he learns he needs to take them as they come. It all comes with learning your own ability or lack of in certain situations. Sporting clays, skeet, trap aren't bad things but ultimately don't teach shot selection. In those games you have to shoot at everything which isn't the case in hunting. Many newer hunters who are experienced clay shooters learn real fast that filling a strap has more to do with what you do before the shot to make the shot easy.

Overcalling/undercalling - Learning to call isn't difficult. Learning to sound really good isn't that hard. Learning how to read the birds is something that comes with feel and experience in many different situations. It's common when someone sounds good at first to try to call everything. They learn real fast that isn't going to work.

Equipment overcompensation syndrome - Many inexperienced hunters think that having quality equipment will guarantee them success. I don't care how good your equipment is, you have to do everything right up to that point to get full production from your equipment. Material things won't put any more birds in the bag if not utilized right.

Not covering up well / hiding - Camo's come in all varieties these days and can really help match habitats. However, nothing beats mother natures best, her own. Use matching vegetation and timber to your advantage thinking about every angle.

Not covering the dog over the top - Many dog owners in their obsession for Fido to mark the birds leave the dog too exposed. This is a guarantee to spooking some birds. Think about the dog as you do yourself. Cover up all angles including on top. Not always possible I know, but worth the effort!

Disobedient dog - Taking Fido into the field without training in the right situations can destroy a fun hunt real quick. Make sure Fido has been well prepared. There are many trainers or training systems available these days.

Too many decoys / no decoys- A common fallacy is the more the better. Not true. If anything birds are more comfortable in open space. Use decoys sparingly in the right situations. Others feel no decoys are okay, but this is pretty much suicide in the field unless you are a jump shooter or pass shooting a specific situation. A few blocks can make all the difference. Some situations call for a lot of decoys but birds become accustomed to that real quick.

Monogamy to an area - Many folks choose permanent blinds or stick to one area they know well. Then they are frustrated the birds aren't there. Move around, network, and hunt some of the areas you've scouted. You will be pleasantly surprised once you learn patterns.

Simplicity syndrome - Some folks are traditionalists and choose to make it hard on themselves. The only one they impress is themselves. Being a traditionalist is commendable to some degree, but there are tools available these days at our expense that dispatch birds ethically and we should take full advantage of their capabilities. Hindering ones self to the point of lacking success is counter productive. Know when to put away the nostalgic stuff.

Decoy movement - Having decoy movement is as important as having decoys. Something needs to be happening out there. Spinners, wobblers, jerk strings...........whatever. You just need to make it look alive. No movement means an unrealistic stillness which makes birds weary.

Well that's my list. I have more, but hopefully some more of you will chime in with some additional things you've thought of. This can be a learning thread for ALL of us. We won't all agree and that's fine. However, hopefully we can teach each other a few things.



Well-Known Member
Somethings I have learned over the past few seasons are.

1. Don't be afraid to adjust decoys if birds are skirting or flairing on your spread...... It's really suprising what just a small adjustment can do.
2.When hunting,make observations to what the birds are doing in the area around you. This might make for a successfull hunt your next time out by picking a different blind or area you saw birds working on your previous hunt.
3.Cover-up,Cover-up,Cover-up!!!!!! Lot's of natural cover.
4.Less is more sometimes.
5.Do lot's of scouting and observe what birds are doing in an area on off days like, where and how they are sitting on a pond. Don't be afraid to hunt corners of ponds :thumbs-up-ani: with just a few decoys rather than big open water with your typical spread.

HOW MANY MORE DAYS!!!!!!! :two-cents:


New Member
Here are lessons learned for me.

1) The blind always looks OK in the dark, however when the sun comes up, I realize I need more cover. So, I really, really make sure the blind is thick enough to begin with. And then there is the fact that the birds are looking down on you.
2) Not making the most of the first hour of shooting. At first light, things look different than in the dark !!!! And I'm always tempted to move the deks or fiddle around. Unless the birds are flaring, I think it's best to sit tight and wait to fix the blind or move deks even if one is upside down, ha. In fact my notes read to be sitting down in the blind motionless 30 minutes before shooting time.
3) Not doing enough "maintenance" training with birds in the off season with the Lab. I may only hunt ducks a couple or so times a year, last year just one day and the lab needs more time in the water with birds.
4) Setting up in a blind where I cannot see approaching ducks. I've learned that I do better if I pick a blind on the dike where I can see from a long ways away. If I am in a low spot, say in an island in the flooded fields and cannot see approaching ducks it is much harder.
5) If somehow or another I can always remain alert and not nod or daydream!!!! This is hard for me with a couple hours of sleep and when it is slow. This is one of the biggest things I have learned from the veterans at Wister. They do not really hunt better blinds, they make the most of what they have and where they are. Some guys will get 7 or 8 ducks fly within range in a full hunting day and take a limit.
6) Being a proficient shot. This is also why some guys always seem to limit and others do not. I have spent a HELL of a lot of time, more like soul searching, figuring out a shooting style and tweaking my shotgun. I've shot my shotgun off a bench to determine it's point of impact and taken a dremel and a drill and modified shims to get it to shoot straight and then to hit where I am looking!!! Amazing how much this has helped my shooting. I tend to shoot low and to the left. Then I have bought clay throwers and simulated hunting situations where I miss the shot and practiced and practiced. And of course I pattern all my shotguns with the loads and chokes I will use and it makes a big difference.
7) I take notes after each day of hunting and log them. I take notes of the blind I hunted and what I did right and wrong.
8) Regarding calling, single, not too loud quacks seem to work the best as well as the feeding chuckle. And whistling works really well on Pintails.
9) Spending time in the off season observing ducks in their natural setting.
10) Picking up stone dead ducks that are close to the blind, and not sailing away in the wind, later when the actions stops or slows down.
11) Practicing to shoot more in front of the bird, since I usually miss behind!!!! And I have learned to adjust my second and even third shots on a single bird.
12) And of course time on the water, the more the better!!!!


You can have my guns when you rip them from my col
Those are some GREAT points....and they apply to more than just waterfowling. I love the guys that buy $2000 shotguns and another grand in decoys and head out to the field with little or no success.


Scout scout scout
I know no one know that one :thumbs-up-ani:

I don't re-invent the wheel, I am always scouting, watching the birds, watching how they fly together, watching to see were they land (take a picture of the area) then go back to see what is growing around that spot for them eat,. Make the determination, if it's a holding spot or not............. if it is I know I can not sent up on it because after one shot they are all gone. you need to find feeding ponds (there heads will all be down in the water) when I find that then I will set and watch it, count the birds coming and going, how and witch direction do they come from? Where do they normally land? how is the wind blowing, take more pictures..........

after I have all the info I make my decoy lay out for that water/land, all I do is copy what I saw the real birds do.

Biggest mistacks I see poeple make................. just showing up with no info and hunt the same spot they had a good shot a year ago and then pist because it nothing like last year.


All good tips given......A couple of things I do and recommend.

This may sound funny, but always know where your feet are. What I mean by that is, have them positioned in the direction you plan on shooting, especially if you see the birds coming and have time to square up. Also have them on flat stable ground if you can. You can always twist at the waist, as long as you don't slip. Wister has a lot of dikes that are slanted. Take a shovel and make a flat spot for your seat and feet (I rarely hunt without one). If you use a mud seat, same theory applies, have your feet squared.

Try to stay on high alert as much as possible. We all get "backdoored", but if your ready to shoot, many times you can get 'em going away (easiest shot). Use a shotgun that fits properly, especially with waterfowling cloths on (stock a little shorter). A lot easier getting it up when surprised.

If you do day dream, do it horizontally. I've never seen many ducks looking at the ground. Own a good bucket or seat. It really helps for the long days.

When you have high skies (no clouds), which is very common at Wister, and you get caught looking for birds and their right on you....don't move....or try to hide. Wait till they pass or just stay still. What flares them is movement or your face looking straight up at 'em..... Scan slowly and use your eyes, not your body.

If you don't where a mask or face paint (I don't). Make sure when scanning the skies your looking through brush or cover. Also, because I wear glasses, I always try to look up just at the edge on my hat. I always use half gloves for the back of my hands too.

Always try to blind up on the shade side of brush or trees if possible.

Not a big problem in SoCal (Lake Henshaw excepted), but if it's really cold, don't throw out your decoys. Place your decoys. Wet or frozen shiny backs don't help.

If your hunting with friends always try to set-up on the upwind side of the decoys.....just is the place to be though......... :thumbs-up-ani:


Somethings I have learned over the past few seasons are.

HOW MANY MORE DAYS!!!!!!! :angry:

I was hoping you would say.......# 6

better choice of blind snacks for the boyz :smiley_rotflmao: on the upcoming season...I promise never again to bring
a box of Trisquets and Oysters for lunch.... GO ARCHIE :smiley-dancin-red:

fish dog

Well-Known Member
All great points! IMHO there are more guys out there that mess it up, and sometimes mess it up for the blinds near them, by bad calling and over calling. I have to laugh sometimes when I hear someone blowing a mallard call and it sounds like high notes on an old bugle. If you know how to call its golden, if you don't then DON'T CALL! Save the practie for off season. I also gotta laugh at the guys calling like mad when there are no birds flying, like their bad calling will magically make some ducks appear.


New Member
better choice of blind snacks for the boyz the upcoming season...I promise never again to bring
a box of Trisquets and Oysters for lunch....

dude, you're smoking crack. as far as blind food, smoked oysters and crackers has been a family tradish forever. herring, sardines, and chovies rock too. i bet you're a "honeybun" and milk kind of guy though. there's one in every group.


Well-Known Member
better choice of blind snacks for the boyz the upcoming season...I promise never again to bring
a box of Trisquets and Oysters for lunch....

dude, you're smoking crack. as far as blind food, smoked oysters and crackers has been a family tradish forever. herring, sardines, and chovies rock too. i bet you're a "honeybun" and milk kind of guy though. there's one in every group.

:huh: :lol: :lol: :smiley-thumbs-up-aqua: bmax your ok in my book!!! :smiley-bag-on-head: Next season we have to get together for a hunt.... you bring the home made beer for after the hunt and I'll bring some good old fisherman blind snacks that somebody here just can't appreciate. :smiley-cool-shades-down:


New Member
bmax your ok in my book!!! :smiley-thumbs-up-aqua: Next season we have to get together for a hunt.... you bring the home made beer for after the hunt and I'll bring some good old fisherman blind snacks that somebody here just can't appreciate. :smiley-cool-shades-down:

i think the canned goods would wash down better with a homebrew next to mike's fire... followed by some backstrap and beans :smiley-bag-on-head:


New Member
Hunting in the fog, haven't seen anyone bring this up yet

1.calling in the fog, soft, soft ,calling, light feed chuckles, and soft quacks, and only
make those calls when you can hear birds over the top of you. So many times
I hear guys hailing on a mallard call when they DON'T even see birds, they are blowing birds
out the sky and don't even know it. :smiley-cool-shades-down:

2.Your face in the fog, cover you MUG UP!!, net type face mask or use black face paint,
it sticks out on like a Light House on foggy days.


New Member
Biggest mistakes I see new hunters make are
1. Misjudging distances. If you can't see a birds feet, or the color of his beak, its probably out of range, unless lighting is a factor. I see young kids busting at 70 and 80 yard birds up north all the time b/c they are hunting along side Dad calling the shots! Let em get in close and be patient. Be disciplined!
2. Let birds finish. A lot of people either don't trust the birds, their calling abilities, or the people around them, and they get nervous that they are only going to get one shot at them. Many hunters wind up taking a high shot, or a bad angle, get a sloppy mount on their shoulder, etc...instead of just letting the birds have one or two more passes. Enjoy the sight of them working, be patient, and you'll shoot more birds with less shells and frustration.
3. Hunt with people that are better than you. One of the best ways to get better at something is hang around people that excel at what they do. These people will push you to think differently about your setups. They will blow you away with their calling, shooting, and overall skills. This is how you get better as a hunter. Its ok to feel outmatched in a group. Because whether you realize or not, the guys that are doing well are making you elevate your own standards.
4. Stay out all day!! Starting out hunting I had nobody teaching me squat. I spent 95% of the time on my own with my dog. I'd be gone all weekend hunting the Sac valley and I'd often show up on sunday night exhausted, hungry, with ZERO birds to show for it. But I stayed out all day! I loved staying "dark to dark!" I learned more about hunting by watching, listening and doing it than the guys that packed it in at 8:30 when the flight slowed down. It made me a patient hunter and I learned on my own to cherrish my time in the field because, there really aren't that many hunt days/year to be out there.
5. Bird ID- Study it! Know what you are shooting at. Not only is it fun to ID what you are shooting (Species and Sex), its also much less expensive if you don't make mistakes.
6. COVER YOUR FACES GuYS! WE ALL SEE YOU! A face mask should be in every pair of waders and every jacket you have for anything you are hunting.
7. Layer properly. Under armour and hot chillis are two of my favorites in cold weather. Don't make the mistake of thinking bulk equals warmth. It absolutely does not. Lighter gear that fits better and tighter to your body will keep your shooting on target.
8. Give the dog a break. Its not his fault he's confused. Its YOURS :smiley-cool-shades-down:
9. Don't be afraid to try new places, or take a blind nobody else wants. Look at it differently than everybody else and figure out how you can hunt it in a unique way. When it gets slow, don't head for home, go scout and figure out what your area has to offer and look for all the "sexy" nooks and crannies that others might be ignoring.
10. Stay in shape! Being out of shape and trying to hustle it with a cart and a bunch of gear cannot be any fun being out of shape. Hit the gym, eat healthy, and come into season ready to work.