How To Duck Hunt?

Hunting a duck can be done with different methods; some people use shotguns or rifles, while others prefer bow hunting. The way you choose depends on what type of hunter you are, what kind of environment the animal inhabits, and what’s a season. For example, during the winter months, many hunters will choose not to use firearms due to the risk of frostbite from using guns in cold weather.

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Hunting ducks can be a lot of fun as they are popular game birds and make delicious meals. This article will outline some methods that work well for hunters who want to try something new or get creative in their approach to this age-old sport. If you want to know how to hunt a duck, then read this blog post for tips on how to accomplish your goal.

Ducks Species

When people think of ducks, they often just think of mallards. However, several other duck species are hunted. Many small streams do not have enough duck habitat for a full-time residence, so the ducks will migrate to a nearby lake or river when the ponds get too low or freeze up in the winter. Below is a list of duck species and their unique characteristics.

Dabbling Ducks – Dabblers are medium-sized diving ducks that forage by dabbling or the “tip-up” method. This feeding method involves the duck swimming on the water surface with its head submerged, tipping forward to reach underwater plants with its beak while skimming the bottom to locate seeds in mud stirred up in the process. The following is a list of some common dabblers.

Shovelers Shoveler’s range through shallow wetlands having soft sediments on lake bottoms where they feed by impaling aquatic vegetation as well as mollusks and crustaceans upon their sharply pointed bill. They will also eat seeds and berries such as those from the lily family of plants, sedges and grasses growing near the water’s edge.

Pochards Pochards often move in flocks along rivers or lakes with abundant aquatic vegetation and are well shaded by trees. They feed on leaves, roots, stems and seeds of aquatic plants, and mollusks and crustaceans. This feeding method allows them to swim through thick beds of underwater plants such as eelgrass which would otherwise tear the thin webbing between their toes if used when feeding. The shoveling technique employed by pochards is unique among ducks because they will tip up with their bill facing down instead of up like a typical dabbling duck. 

Wild Diving Ducks

The wild diving duck is too difficult to raise in captivity and therefore cannot be farmed. It is thought that these domestic ducks were first domesticated for their meat, but you soon discovered that they would make good hunters as well. The following is a list of the most common puddle duck breeds used for hunting.

Pintail – The pintail is one of the fastest flying ducks due to its long sweeping tail, which can span up to two feet when fully fanned out during flight. These ducks are timid, so you must take care not to flush them prematurely, or they will stop feeding and dive underwater, causing you to lose your shot, making them more desirable for experienced hunters. 

Mallard – It is the most common breed of duck used for waterfowl hunting. These ducks tend to be very wary, so they are better suited for experienced hunters. 

Redhead – It is a medium-sized diving duck with a uniquely short neck and lackadaisical attitude when flying. They have an orange face patch that makes them easy to recognize compared to the other diving ducks. 

Canvasback – Named for their sizeable square-shaped head and long body, this is one of the fastest swimming puddle-bred ducks in the world, averaging speeds of up to 30 miles per hour (48 kilometers per hour) when swimming at top speed! However, these ducks will fly slower when flushed since they are not as fast as other breeds. This is not a problem for us hunters since you can get close enough to make a clean shot. 

Blue-winged teal – These small ducks are very nervous while on the water surface and will dive if disturbed by even the slightest noise or movement. However, once they take flight, their demeanor changes drastically; they fly along quite calmly, with their wings making barely any noise at all. Due to this attribute, it is common practice among waterfowlers to have a decoy spread of only blue wings to put their oversize flocks up into the trees without scaring them off from feeding altogether. 

Wigeon – These medium-sized diving ducks have long necks and slender bodies that help them swim at high speeds despite having short legs. They are quite wary and will often be the last duck species up at sundown since they prefer the thicker cover to hide them from predators while feeding. 

Wood Ducks – Wood ducks are one of the most colorful of all domestic ducks with bright orange-red eyes, a reddish head slate with purple markings around their face and neck. This is another shy diving duck that prefers secluded bodies of water where they can feed undisturbed so take care not to flush too many out before your hunt is over, or you may end up walking away empty-handed like I did my first time taking an experienced hunter hunting with me.

How To Duck Hunt?

Where To Hunt?

Duck hunting requires some knowledge of where ducks hang out. Not only does this knowledge help you get a hunt, but it also helps to reduce the number of non-target kills that can tarnish your reputation as an ethical hunter.

Here are my top five duck hunting areas (in no particular order):

Salt lakes and ponds: even if you don’t see ducks when you look in the air, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Ducks often swim offshore and only come into view after they have hit the shore or started flying away.

Flatlands: although fields are great places to duck hunt, you will miss out on several shots because the ducks won’t fly high enough. Try hunting in areas where there is not much tall grass to get tangled in your legs.

Lake or pond borders: these are often overlooked by hunters who stick to the center of the body of water, but they provide an excellent opportunity for those willing to take them. The best time to hunt along lake or pond borders is when there are no trees and very few houses overlooking it. You might have to walk quite some distance between each bush that provides good hiding cover, but it’s worth it once you start getting targets.

Grasslands: the tall grass often provides plenty of cover for ducks to hide, especially when flying towards you. Wait until they have gotten reasonably close, and then shoot at them as you would on a skeet range (take note that many states require hunters to be over 25 years old to hunt duck).

Farm areas: unlike salt lakes and ponds, farmland is usually not surrounded by thick bushes, providing some shooting cover. You might have difficulty finding good positions where duck hunting stands will work well instead of duck decoys. However, this is compensated by the fact that there are almost always more ducks around than natural predators such as eagles or foxes. If you see a cornfield, try hunting in the field next to it for an extra challenge.

Choosing A Hunting Spot

This is the most important part of duck hunting. You will not be able to shoot a duck if you cannot attract them.

Find or make a decoy: There are many kinds of decoys, but they all share one thing in common; it works! Some people will buy giant plastic heads from stores, but these can get expensive. It’s better to make your own because they are more robust and heavier, which will attract the most ducks.

Set up a hunting spot: If you’re in a boat, it is essential to find a good spot where other boats won’t get in your way but still give you access to the ducks. The same thing applies if you’re on land. Find an area that has enough room for you to shoot at them and doesn’t have anything blocking your view or destroying the environment around the water source.

Wait patiently: No matter what method of attracting the ducks you use, remember that they might not come right away, so be patient! Sometimes bait will take multiple days to attract some ducks, or sometimes sitting still and quiet will bring them to you.

Shoot: When the ducks are close enough, it is time to shoot and bag your limits! Ensure not to harm great birds because they are beautiful animals that can be kept as pets or used for food. 

Gear For Duck Hunting

We have a shotgun, shells (shot), duck call, and camouflage for duck hunting. The good idea is to dress in camo clothes because that makes us harder for the ducks to see. Duck hunting can happen all year round, depending on where you live, but it’s most common in the fall when the ducks migrate close to shore so they can fly inland for the winter. 

The shotgun must be in good condition to make sure you hit your target and not miss, especially when it comes flying that fast towards you. Most places only require a person using a shotgun and shooting from land, but if you have a boat, then go ahead and use it also.

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Take care of your gear by taking care of it like any other gun or object, so don’t let people borrow your stuff, keep everything together in one place (so we don’t lose anything), and clean off mud or stains before putting it away.

In the field, have fun but be respectful of wildlife while taking care of yourself out there.  Also, try not to use oil to clean off your shotgun because that could attract ducks by putting it into the water and make sure nothing is attached to your shotgun, so we don’t shoot something else than what we were aiming at.

Shoot A Duck

The first thing you need to know is the basics of duck hunting. In almost all cases, it is done by a boat or a canoe since landfills are usually too small for any type of free ranged duck hunting.

Sometimes, however, free-range hunting is allowed, and in those cases, you can use bow-and-arrows, muskets or any other pre-modern weapons. Most people prefer using rifles because they provide more safety from accidental headshots, resulting in less wasted meat and feathers if your target gets hit.

Maybe when you go out shooting for the first time, someone taught you how to aim, but if not, I’ll give some tips on that: hold the rifle steady and shoot at the ducks head. A good hunter can get most of his shots at the head.

When I say headshot, I mean you aim for the top of their head or just under it. This way, your bullet will travel faster and hit harder than aiming at the body, causing minor damage. Ducks have pretty big heads, but it’s not that easy to hit with precision, so don’t rush making this shot.

If you’re lucky enough to get the first shot at a duck, don’t waste it with full auto. Pull one bullet into the chamber and aim for an eye. It’s better because if they see you seeking, they might end up diving or fly away. Pulling only one bullet in makes them think they have nothing to fear and will make them feel comfortable about staying there long enough for you to kill them.

If they dive or fly before that, just empty the rest of the clip onto their bodies until they disappear. Don’t play around with full auto unless it’s essential: It wastes too much ammo on birds who already ran away.

If you’re free-ranged duck hunting, don’t be afraid to get up close and personal with your target before shooting it. Ducks have pretty good eyesight, but if you move a lot while walking up to it, they won’t notice much until it’s too late. When they see you, their reflexes will kick in and make them try to fly away or run away from you, so get as close as you can before taking the shot.

Most ducks will not flee from a hunter on land, so just walk up and shoot them as fast as possible or else other ducks might join to protect themselves,s which makes it more difficult for the hunter to pick one out hunter others bay. When the duck is dead, don’t waste time trying to go for some more since any survivor might already be a reasonable distance away by that point, and you’ll just risk wasting ammo on birds too far away to hit.

The water can also give you an advantage over ducks. If you’re shooting from a boat or canoe, it will be pretty hard for them to notice your presence until it’s too late because of your cover (the boat), which many of them won’t expect. However, if they see your craft, there are still other advantages like depth perception and distance.

While in water, most ducks won’t even try to turn against you if they see that you’re coming since they won’t perceive your ability to hit them as a real threat. This gives you the advantage of getting pretty close before shooting which means one less duck will escape.

Even if they decide to fight against it and try to attack, just shoot while still moving towards them. Most bullets don’t travel in straight lines, so even if you don’t hit directly, they’ll still run away with wounds instead of attacking you. If they dive into the water, then pull out your sidearm and shoot their heads as fast as possible: most won’t reach the surface by that point and die from drowning/breathing difficulties.

How To Duck Hunt?

Cleaning A Duck After The Hunt

  1. With nimble fingers, pluck the bird while avoiding ripping out the entrails. This is best done with a non-sharp hand instrument like a gloved hand or even just your hands if you are confident in your ability and do not have gloves. When removing feathers from the duck, avoid loudly ripping any by pulling them out one at a time slowly; this will also cause less blood loss from the duck, sustainably harming it less.

If you decide to remove feathers using only your hands, ensure that they are clean before handling the duck as there is no point in contaminating their meat by touching dirty fingers. The goal of feather removal here is to eliminate potential messy down feathers on ducks that only serve as a trap for blood in the meat.

  1. To cut open the duck without damaging any of its innards, use a sharp hand instrument like a pocket knife. If you are confident that your skin is spotless and there will be no cross-contamination with the bird’s future meats, you can gently flick it from one hand to another while using only your hands to attempt dispatching it before field dressing. This is usually easy if done correctly and provides a better end product than field dressing with a sharp blade. 

Now you can take a sharp blade and slice down its belly while avoiding guts spilling out. You will want to be gentle here as any wild slashes can cause internal organs such as an intestine or liver to rupture, which will spoil your meat by tainting it with their fluids.

How To Duck Hunt?

  1. Once the cavity is exposed, carefully remove all innards and throw them away in a separate trash bag than what you used for packaging raw meat. Some of these guts should go into your bait pile if they have not already been thrown there earlier by spectators on hand during hunting season who might get impatient watching someone clean so slowly. The only good part inside the gizzard should be its inner lining, a tasty treat and should be kept apart from everything else you are throwing away.
  2. Dispose of the duck’s innards by flushing them down a toilet or burning them in your backyard fire pit; the choice is yours on how to get rid of them. Some hunters choose to keep all their entrails in one big pile because they plan on making sausages out of it all later at home, but this is not recommended due to health concerns: there can be contamination between each organ such as bacteria, parasites, worms, and other nasty things which will likely end up inside your body if ingested without proper processing (cooking). If specific organs like hearts and livers were removed earlier during the field dressing process, you can place them aside in a separate pile from the rest of your raw meats and throw them into a garbage bag when done.
  3. Once cleaned, place the duck into an ice-filled cooler for preservation purposes if you plan on keeping it past that day. Also, store any other meats, whatever has been cut off (like gizzards), to be frozen together once ready to eat. If not going to be eaten soon, you will want to cook your ducks immediately after cleaning or freeze them.


The first thing to consider is the type of hunt. If it’s a shotgun hunt, then the lightweight gear is best. But if you’ll be using a bow or rifle, then more substantial clothing might be required. If you’re planning a trip to go duck hunting soon, this post is for you. To get an idea of what gear and items will be best suited for your upcoming hunt, we’ve compiled some tips above. 

If you plan on hunting ducks in an area where other hunters might also be present, camo clothes are necessary! It doesn’t matter what kind of camo pattern or color scheme you use as long as it blends into the environment around your stand location. Ensure to wear layers, too, since weather changes throughout the day and night while out there in the hunting area. 

Duck hunting is not easy. It requires a lot of patience, skill, and preparation. If you want to be successful at duck hunting, it’s essential to learn everything about ducks, practice your shooting skills in advance, and carefully choose the right equipment for your hunt. 


Duck hunting is a great way to get fresh meat and spend time outdoors. The best part about duck hunting is that it’s not difficult. All you need is the right gear, some patience, and a little bit of skill.

In this blog post, We’ve compiled enough stuff to prepare you for your upcoming hunt so you can be well-equipped with both, knowledge and the gear for a successful hunt.

And I’ll just quickly add my own two cents here:  

Be sure to be an efficient and organized hunter as opposed to a lousy one by learning how to clean ducks properly, how to prepare them for freezing, etc. By going beyond the norm of just being a good shot with your gun or bow, you will go from having a good time to really enjoying yourself!

With these tips from countless hunters on gear and what they bring with them, plus our suggestions as well, you will have all the information you need to hit the field for your duck hunt. Be sure to check out some of our other hunting blogs here about different game species like deer, bear, hog, elk and more.

So don’t sit around waiting for the right time to go hunting when you can have a successful hunt right now just by clicking your mouse button! Good luck in the field and happy hunting!

Author Profile

Gabriel Tackett
Double major in Engineering and Geology at the University of Minnesota. Experienced shooter & hunter for over 15 years. Certified NRA officer for over 10 years working as a writer at .

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