Hunting Q & A
Can you give me tips on hunting public land?
Q: I live in Colorado and we see geese every day. If you have no access to private land, you are only able to hunt on State Wildlife Areas. These areas are picture perfect for ducks and geese. The only problem is, every other hunter in Colorado hunts these places too. We only shoot two or three ducks a year and a couple of geese. We constantly see ducks. I was wondering if you have any advice on harvesting more birds on these lands. Also, if you dont, what should I do. - Ross Keller
A: Believe it or not you are in a similar situation to most of the duck hunters I know that spend most of their time hunting on public lands. My experience with public land hunting is that one has to be creative to consistently enjoy good hunting. My first suggestion is to hunt off peak times if your schedule will allow. While many public areas are crowded on the weekend, I am often surprised how few folks hunt mid-week.
Also, my experience on my favorite public marsh, is that experimenting with the time of day when you are hunting can make all of the difference in the world. I have often times found that by sytaying a little later, my competition will leave and I will enjoy great shooting later in the morning, especially on wary late season ducks that “learn” when the hunters will be present and when they will not.
Also, I would spend almost as much time scouting and observing the area as hunting, as through these observations, you may learn that there are secretive, out of the way places where ducks continually work, even when there are hunters around. Many hunters will not put into the work, to hike in with decoys for these tougher places, but I can assure you, if you are willing to scout and watch the birds and put in the extra effort to get to them, your efforts will be rewarded.
Also, try some different techniques-if all of the hunters in your area are using big spreads, try smaller spreads with high quality decoys. If everyone is continually calling, try duck whistles to emulate teal, pintail, wigeon and mallard drakes. You might be surprised how these little adjustments in approach can yield big results.
Best of luck!