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Siwulat

looking for a duck hunting mentor

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I know this is an odd request.

I live in the South Metro (Apple Valley). I am an avid deer hunter and have been interested in trying water fowling for the past few seasons. My issue is that a) I have never done it and have no idea where to start, short of buying my license and sitting near a pond trying to pass shoot and B) I do not know anybody who chases ducks.

What I have is an ability and willingness to learn and a true desire to get into water fowling. I don't currently have any gear, aside from a shotgun and chest waders. I am hoping to tag along with somebody before purchasing things like dekes, calls, etc.

If you are interested in sharing some water fowling insights, or even letting me tag along, please let me know. I appreciate any help I can get.

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I'm in some what the same boat.

I'm going the direction of using a guide service for this year to see how much I enjoy it and to get an idea of what it'll take to do it for myself.

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A few things to look for if you do want to wing it on your own (pun intented):

- Cheap reliable duck call. I recommend Haydels DR-85, like 20 bucks, still use it every time out. Watch videos of how to use the call. DO NOT try to sound like the goofy competition callers. They do NOT sound like live birds. Go to Delaney Park in Apple Valley in the evening and listen to the live real birds. That is what you want to sound like. Less is more.

- Decoys. You don't need 200 decoys to shoot birds. You can get by just fine with only a dozen. Check the popular HSOforum by Craig often, their are always tons on there. You can also pick them up pretty much anywhere for 50 bucks for a dozen. You do NOT need the best or greatest. Just make sure they are looking decent. I like to toss in a random other species besides mallard, be it a pintail, or even a random bluebill or ringneck. I think that white on the other species really grabs their attention.

Thats it. Really, that is all you need to hunt ducks. You already have the gun and waders, you are good to go. Later on you can find a canoe/boat, improved decoys, spinning wing decoys, fancy call, etc. I got by on the minimum for years.

A few random tips:

- don't shoot at a duck you have a limited chance of retrieving such as headed over thick cattails, and you have no dog, or wind blowing the dead bird into water too deep for your waders. Swimming in 40 degree water is not fun, I can attest to that.

- don't worry as much about the pattern of camo (almost all of it is too dark and sticks out anyways) and worry more about movement. My dad tells stories of him and his father duck hunting out of an aluminum boat with no paint, camo, etc, and doing just fine. The whole key is staying very still.

I live in Lakeville and hunt all over the place. I have access to a few nearby fields for late season birds, but that permission is through another buddy. Once the season kicks into full gear by later October, I drive W or SW of the Twin Cities an hour or two and find a spot I can hunt. I have a small SUV, but big enough for my 17 ft canoe. I will take that out and duck hunt the morning till 9am, and then chase pheasants with my dogs until my legs hurt. I'll gladly take another person along to split the cost of gas. Feel free to PM on here.

-

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Ditto what was just said. The hardest part of duck hunting isn't spending the money. Anyone can do that. The hard part is finding birds. My dad has hunted for years & years with the same tired, pellet-ridden 2 dozen floaters, burlap sacks for camo & cheap hip waders. He kills more ducks than anyone I know. His secret is simple. Set up where they wanna be & they'll come to you. Since you dont have a boat/cano, my single best piece of advise is this. Go to a popular duck hunting lake up by the Grand Rapids/Leech/Winni area & watch birds. Watch where they come from & where they go after being shot at. Odds are, they have a little sanctuary (usually a beaver pond) they're holed up in. Once a few birds find a honey hole, they draw in more & more birds. If/when you find these spots, hunt them sparingly. 1-2x a week & only shoot the first couple flocks. Let it build back up. Do it right & you'll have birds in that pond for years to come. You're gonna spend a lot of time driving & walking and you'll come up empty handed 9 out of ten times. But once you find that spot, it's all worth it

My second piece of advise is just spend the money & go to North Dakota. If you're interested I can pm you a few areas to get you started. All you need is a few dozen cheap floaters, a shotgun & chest waders & you'll see more birds than you know what to with. You can do a DIY trip for around $500, license & gas included.

If I still lived in the area if offer to let ya tag along, but I'm down in Texas now & only get up 1-2x a year

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I second the North Dakota trip. Finding land to hunt is super easy and you don't have to call at all if you dont want. There are so many birds that when you come home to MN tot duck hunt, it'll be depressing. Plus you get lots better at identifying ducks when they fly since you see lots of different species.

For a cheap call, a Buck Gardner double nasty is a great one for like $25. I still got one on my lanyard!

Its addicting (and expensive) but you'll love it!

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feel free to pm me as well as my Dad has cancer and I try to get him out as much as I can unless his health prevents him so I do have a times where I have a open spot

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I second the North Dakota trip. Finding land to hunt is super easy and you don't have to call at all if you dont want. There are so many birds that when you come home to MN tot duck hunt, it'll be depressing. Plus you get lots better at identifying ducks when they fly since you see lots of different species.

For a cheap call, a Buck Gardner double nasty is a great one for like $25. I still got one on my lanyard!

Its addicting (and expensive) but you'll love it!

saying getting on land is super easy is not true today, 10 years ago yes, alot has changed, and will only get worse.

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I'd happily take you guys out but I live 350 miles north of you way up in NW Minnesota. If you ever plan on heading up this way just shoot me a pm.

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Yeah if you guys end up around the St. Cloud area at all this season lemme know we got two boats to work with... just shoot me a PM... as far as advise... opening weekend the water will still be mostly tolerable in the lakes... you can pass shoot or try some cheap decoys out usually opening day not much calling is needed... also use C L to your advantage and the Classified ads on HSO to find some used decoys... if your not sure on the prices just ask the guys on here then can keep ya from paying to much... PRACTICE! with your shotgun! I agree with the watching ducks and listening to them as well they tell you what you should sound like... in for the first three weeks of the season a couple boxes of #2 shot should work fine for everything geese included... also go play 20 questions with your local sporting goods store guys about advise and local areas to check out... guides are good but get referrals first before paying any money out of pocket... call the refferals! Good luck post pics if you go or getting anything.

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You can do a DIY trip for around $500, license & gas included.

That's just funny. Does that include the ramen noodles cooking in the passenger seat of the Prius parked in a field approach as lodging?

Good luck man. Find your way into it. It gets expensive, exhausting, and utterly frustating...until it works and then you double up to make it happen again.

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I should mention, my lodging is free. Still, if you drive a car that gets 30+mpg, a long weekend trip is easily doable for that much. Pile another 1 or 2 guys to split costs in your car for the 1000 mile round trip drive from where you're at, 3 nights lodging & a little food (bring a grill) are the only costs you'll incur.

50 gallons of gas-$160=$55 each

3 nights lodging-around $400=$130 each

Licenses-$172 each

Food-$150 each buys a whole lotta blind goodies

Total-$500

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To the OP, honestly, look up a local Delta Waterfowl chapter and join in on a meeting or two. They're super passionate dudes who are huge into passing on the tradition to interested parties. Most chapters host youth hunts or First Hunt events on a yearly basis, but if you express a genuine willingness to learn and participate (and maybe pitch in), I can just about guarantee you'll find more than one person who'd love to show you the ropes.

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Well, my first ever duck hunt is in the books. No birds. I saw plenty but they were all just flying by out of range. Didn't even give my decoys a look. Is it normal for the early morning birds to not even react to dekes? I wasn't doing any calling and was pretty well hidden. The action really died at about 730. I hung around till 945 but didn't see another bird. I'm planning on heading out tomorrow morning but probably not as early.

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Si,

I'm guessing what you are experiencing is simply early season birds that have patterned to particular areas after being pressured a little by the early goose season, and youth season.

They are more then likely local birds, and of course, the weather this morning is so nice they have no need to get out of the skies.

Don't be discouraged. As a new hunter you'll likely have more days like this then you will just pounding birds. This is part of the learning curve.

Just like becoming a great fishermen requires a lot of time on the water, so does becoming a great waterfowl hunter require a lot of time in the field. You can read all the tips, techniques, magazines and forums you want, but very little of that will help until you learn exactly how to apply it in the field, and get it to work.

Hang in there. When the new birds start filtering down from Canada hunting will start to get better.

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Yes Canopy, I am well aware that learning isn't going to be easy. Just like anything else, there is a learning curve. I certainly wasn't expected to get a limit today, I was just surprised when it looked more like a dove shoot than a duck hunt. It wasn't what I was expecting at all. But, that's why it's called hunting, it happens.

Interesting perspective about them being local birds. I didn't think of that.

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Would like to point you in the right direction before you get frustrated. I've spent most of my life as a minimalist duck hunter. Couldn't afford fancy gear, now I don't have time to deploy a huge spread of dekes or justify a fancy boat.

My current kit for this weekend was a 1970's vintage aluminum canoe painted camo-ish, 2 goose decoys, 6 mixed mallard, wood duck, teal decoys, a $20 call and swiss military surplus camouflage (really great early pattern BTW). Outside of the canoe you could grab the whole kit and a box of 3" #3 shot for about $100 at Fleet Farm. A little late for this year, but you should be able to find a used canoe or duck boat for an affordable price. This will open up a lot of areas for you to hunt.

I used to hunt a lot of public water and did quite well. Did require driving to the Grove City/Atwater area to get away from some of the crowds. There are some cheap hotels out there. Mostly larger lakes with isolated marshy areas, staying clear of the heavily hunted "duck lakes." Now I own a home with a duck slough in the backyard near Albertville. Drop me a PM. I may be hunting solo next weekend.

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