Birds of Nebraska: Newspaper Accounts, 1854-1923

October 3, 1922. Omaha Morning Bee 52(92): 12.

Duck Shooting Great Sport.

When the day is right for wildfowling it is usually wrong for any other kind of hunting. Pick a stormy day during the seasonal flight and though teeth chatter, and toes nearly freeze, there will be shooting that day and plenty of it. Calling ducks is an art, attempted by nearly every one and mastered by few. The best imitations are those done without the use of an artificial device. Study the methods of an experienced gunner and practice. The call is essential no matter if you shoot over decoys, on the pass, or wading. it is not difficult to master the call. Many are not needed. Two or three will suffice. For non-diving ducks use the mallard call, for diving or deep water birds, use the blue bill. Of the first type may be classed, mallard, widgeon, teal, gray-spoonbill and black. For deep water ducks, red head, blue bill, broadbills, whistler and butter balls. It is also well to master the purring call of the red head.

The blue bill is the most persistent caller. Listen on some calm day and you will hear this chattery chap talking to every passing flock. Call to attract the bird's attention to the decoys then modulate your call. Sound travels a long way on a still marsh. If you call too loud, mallard, black and widgeon will detect the fraud. Instance this - you have often noticed that after making a call that you concede clever enough to fool any bird, that they came in - just out of range. There they would sit and study the decoys as a frozen finger shivered around the trigger and shivered in vain. Next time, sit tight. If the birds are not disturbed they will move slowly toward the decoys, feeding and chuckling as they swim. If they start to circle away try a few low calls. For deep water birds call louder or else give a low chuckle that they just can hear. As the bird's circle around you lie low. Your moving will scatter them to another direction. Stay low, just high enough to clear your blind when you shoot. In mallard shooting as a rule, a half dozen decoys will be enough, unless there is a succession of open ponds or lakes. If there is a great deal of open water you can use a dozen mallard decoys. About four drakes to eight hens, for mallards make the best selection, meaning, of course, five decoys in this instance. Mallards like little holes or ponds. They are not like deep water ducks, they prefer to select their own crowd. Deep water ducks like to be with the big bunch where nearly all kinds are mixed.

In hunting on lakes or shores where there is plenty of wild grass, bulrush or cattails, the problem of material for a blind is solved. If it is not practical to build the blind on the shore, cover the water side of the boat by placing sticks in the mud, around the end and one side of the boat, using the rushes and grass to cover the stick framework. Be in the blind at dawn. In shooting over decoys, either natural or artificial, place them about twenty yards from the blind, in a straight row or semi-circle. Shoot as the birds alight in the decoy. The next best time to shoot is when they arise. In either case the heavy, hard feathers will be missed. In shooting from a blind without decoys, lead your bird. The distance of the lead comes from experience. Ducks travel from 60 to 90 miles an hour. Don't hesitate to give a wounded bird the finishing shot. Ducks approaching the decoys and flying with the wind invariably pass over the decoys and then swing around to alight. Try tolling for canvas backs and broad bills. A slight noise or whistle will often cause ducks to group close together. Don't shoot an incoming bird until he passes you. In very stormy weather seek ducks in sheltered places, or heavy timbered woods. Lead well. The best time for ducking as at dawn or just before dark. In windy weather they fly low. Set decoys to the windward of your blind. In flock shooting select the leading bird.