The other night, I was out in my shop doing my usual process of getting my gear repaired from my most recent duck hunt, and getting it prepared for the next one. While doing this, I came to my trusty neoprene waders, which were hanging upside down from their hanger. I was checking for small holes to Shoe-Goo, removing "hitch-hikers" and burrs and removing the many thorns and briars that were stuck in the material. This is my normal routine so I didn't think about it too much at the time.
After I was finished, I went into the house and sat down to watch some TV, which almost always takes me to one of the outdoor channels. There was a duck hunting show on, and the hunters were set up in a blind next to a lake. They had coffee brewing, a heater running, and two dogs waiting to retrieve any unlucky Mallards that were coaxed in too close. While watching this, a light bulb went off in my head. I wondered how many burrs, briars and holes these guys got in their waders. Later in the show, another couple of hunters were in a Jon-Boat, cruising canals looking for the perfect ambush spot. All of this made me wonder why I insist on setting out on foot, creeping through brush, wading creeks and swamps, and army-crawling up to the edge of a small pond hidden in the woods. I didn't have to put too much thought into it however, because I think it's a blast!! I wouldn't have it any other way.
This style of hunting is commonly referred to as "jump shooting." It's how I learned to hunt ducks as a youth and the way I continue to hunt to this day. I have had the opportunity to hunt in blinds, boats and farm fields, as well as with good dogs and huge decoy spreads, but I always come back to my favorite way to duck hunt. I like the ability to hit multiple spots and cover lots of ground over the course of the day, and this is almost impossible when you have to wrangle up decoys, a boat, a dog and shooting gear before you can drive to another spot that may be just a few miles down the road. For "jump shooting" the gear requirements are fairly simple. All you need are some good waders, a gun and a vest containing shells, a snack, and something to drink. Bring along your favorite calls and a game carrier and you've got all you need. I like to carry a Quaker Boy Woody Wood Duck Whistle and a single-reed Mallard call such as the Quaker Boy Suzy-Q.
I usually start my day in a quiet spot with some open water in flooded timber. This allows me to size up the day as I watch ducks fly by overhead in the last minutes before sunrise. I will throw down some Wood Duck whines and often get a couple birds to land almost in my lap. I let these birds live and continue their normal routine. These early birds end up being the best type of decoy you can have. Soon other birds will join them as the light of day increases. That's when the party starts! After shooting a bird or two and getting the swamp stirred up, I will start to move around a bit. It's even more fun when I have a couple of buddies on the opposite end or near the middle of the swamp. As the ducks flee from their shots they are sent back my way.
As I move slowly through the brush, I begin to hear the "zip-sounding" peep of the male Woody and the whines of the females. I can use my Woody Wood Duck Whistle to emulate them and locate them as I work my way closer. Once I'm in the general area, I will be ultra-alert for the sound of the birds chatting with each other or the sight of splashing water. When I have pinpointed the birds, I work my way towards them until they flush and I can get a nice flying shot.
It is easy to spend the better part of a day doing this. I mix some Mallard chatter in the calling sequence in hopes of bringing some "Greenheads" down as well. If a spot gets quiet, I can easily leave, go grab a quick breakfast sandwich and then start hitting other small water holes nearby using these same basic tactics. I work my way through brush, briars, tall grass, thick mud and many other challenges along the way. But I think this builds charactor and makes the hunt more real.
My style of hunting has many advantages. Because he doesn't have to load up massive amounts of gear, a hunter can easily get in a quick hunt before or after work. Also, as I mentioned earlier, you can bring a couple of your buddies along and have great shooting for everyone.
If you have never tried Jump Shooting, I invite you to give it a "shot." I also invite you to visit The Quaker Boy Forum to share your stories or get tips on this and other types of hunting!