Public land is a great resource, but unfortunately not everyone that uses public land is as courteous as they should be and unless you leave the night before your hunt you are not going to get “the spot” that you want. Here are a couple of hints to make you next public land hunt that much more successful.
Get off the beaten path, it’s a beaten path because people use it. Unless you want to be hunting with someone you didn’t want to hunt with, you need to make an effort to go your own way. You don’t need to be in the same place everyone else is in. When the shooting starts the ducks have to go somewhere. Try and find and little pot hole or bend of a creek that offers protection for the ducks, this is what they’re looking for. Staying away from the crowds is nicer too because then you don’t have to worry about shooting at birds that may or may not be decoying your spread. Some of the best hunting we have found on public land is on a small little ditch almost a mile off the beaten path; it has never failed us yet.
Don’t use what everyone else is using, If people are using MOJOs and ten dozen decoys, try something different, try using 6-12 decoys and no MOJOs and vice versa. What you have to remember is that when ducks see the same thing day in and day out and then they get shot at they are going to start to avoid these areas, if you are using something different they are not going to be decoy shy, giving you a better opportunity to bag your limit. Something to add a little motion to your spread that is light and easy to use is Quiver Magnets, throw 2-3 in your spread and let them work.
Be mobile, don’t commit yourself to one spot and be ready to move in the blink of an eye. If birds are not working your spread or you are watching birds fly in a different direction, try and get to where they are going. If you can’t get to where they are going, try and get somewhere between where they’re coming from and where they are going. One tip to being more mobile is instead of carrying everything in a pit bag with one shoulder strap put everything in a back pack with two shoulder straps, this makes it a lot easier to carry things in and farther without being a burden on your shoulders.
Scout! I know this is the most obvious but if you get out pre-season and find different spots, you will be more prepared for those mornings when you can’t hunt the spot you wanted to. I recommend that you carry a GPS and a notebook and something to write with, in your notebook keep track of how you got there, the location of the spot, whether you saw birds or not, what you might need to bring in to help with decoying birds or hiding yourself, what kind of cover is around the spot to hide in, how long it took you to get there and what wind direction works best for this location. Most importantly keep track of whether the location holds water year round or just when it is a wet year, there is nothing worse than walking to a new spot to find out that it’s dried up.