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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Chris (Hustad), your article about Hunting Tactics in ND brings up some questions. While scouting last year (late Oct) I found what I thought was going to be an excellent spot the next morning. I stood half a mile away from the hole and watched a couple of thousand ducks and geese pour into a body of water that probably encompassed a square quarter of a mile, maybe a little less. I found it interesting the way the geese and ducks segregated themselves. After reading your article and not experiencing any real sucess in the hole the next morning (after I ran the birds off and they never really returned the entire day), I think I buy into the idea that this was probably a roost. In all my scouting last year I found a few holes like this but never really saw a lot of movement from the roosts. What time should you expect roosting birds to start moving so you can get a feel for where their transition sloughs and feeding fields might be? I don't have a good feel for how best to distinguish a roost from a transition slough when scouting. Help from anybody is appreciated. Thanks. :-?
 

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Joel,
I have to assume a couple things from your post first before I begin if these assumptions are incorrect please let me know. I would guess that when you found these water holes it was in the later morning and into the afternoon. It sounds like you did find a roost.

What you were seeing was the birds coming back after they had gone out to feed. If you find a situation like this you are in great shape. Now you know where the birds are, so scouting should be easy. What you need to do is watch the birds come off this roost in the evening. Just follow them where they go after they get off the water. There are usually more than a few flocks going to a field or transition slough so if you lose a flock don't worry just look where you last saw the flock and a new one should follow shortly, these will lead you to the other birds.

Geese will generally fly off the roost and go out directly to a field in the morning and not hit a transition water area. After they feed however they will often find a place to take a drink and lay around before going back to the roost pond. Sometimes they will go directly to the roost. It all depends on what is available in the area.

Ducks will often go out in the morning from the roost and then go to a transition area and then go out to feed. Don't shoot the roost, shoot that transition slough. How I distinguish a transition slough from a roost is to watch it in the evening. A transition slough will generally be smaller than a roost and birds will start coming into it 2 to 3 hours before dark, sit on it for a little while and then leave to find a field to feed in. Generally this field will be close by. I would say within 2 miles. You can either hunt the field or you can hunt the water. The best thing in my opinion is to hunt the field the first morning. You will get a good shoot and then hunt the transition slough the next morning. This is a great tactic for local guys because you can hunt a saturday and sunday and not have to drive all over the country to find two good shoots.

The best part about this is that you will not send the birds packing to another state by shooting the roost and all you have to do is follow the birds off that roost again and find another transition area and do the whole thing over again.

The best way for you to hunt the water you mentioned in your post is to let the birds go off naturally in the morning and then move in after they have left and let them trickle back into you after they feed.
 

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Over that past few falls we have found two separate regions of ND that offer this scenario for mallards. Not many geese in these areas for some reason, but this seems to have kept most other hunters from discovering these hot mallard areas.

This pattern was difficult to figure out because we were hunting them during different times.

The bulk of the mallards (>5K - 10K) in this area roost on a very remote, well hidden pond in a large section of posted land. It took quite a few late evenings (near dark) following flocks of mallards in dim twilight to find their roost pond.

In the morning, waves of mallards fly out into many different fields and ponds, then nearly all hit the small sloughs in the area.

Many smaller sloughs fill with mallards from about 10:30 - noon. Then most depart for the big roost in small groups.

If you drive by these ponds from about noon till near dark (like the goose hunters often do) - you may see a few ducks in each pond, but swear nothing is really around to hunt.

1) Fields are full of mallards morning and near dusk. Great hunting

2) Small ponds have offered great hunting 10 - noon, longer on cloudy, ducky days. Great hunting. Transition sloughs do not seem to be used as much near dark.

Anyway with all these mallards and all that trading between roost, small sloughs and the fields we have had consistent hunting over the past few falls because the roost pond is hidden, posted, and undisturbed. No alkaline sloughs in this area so water quality is not a factor.

PH
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the responses.
G-grinder, Yes it was later afternoon when I saw them pouring in by the hundreds. Your suggestion about hunting the feed field on day one and then the transition slough later makes a lot of sense and I'd like to hunt the field but it begs another question from this novice. I tried to set up in a field last year w/ my water dekes (ducks) by forcing them down in the dirt or proping them up so that they sat upright. We didn't have much luck, mainly because a front came through and took all the birds we had seen there previously, but my question is whether or not taking my water dekes into the field and placing them out like I did is the thing to do? I really appreciate the info - it makes sense to me to leave the roost alone like a waterfowl rest area and let the birds coming off the roost tell you where to go for a good hunt - the roost sounds like a nonrenewing resource. Thanks.

Prariehunter,
When you talk about small ponds and transistion sloughs are you talking about the same thing or something different? I'm an Alabama boy so can you enlighten me on what the deal is on alkaline sloughs? Sounds like a place you don't want to set up and I've been know to learn those kind of things the hard way if you know what I mean. How do you know an alkaline slough when you see one? Thanks.
 

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joel barber said:
but my question is whether or not taking my water dekes into the field and placing them out like I did is the thing to do?
In my opinion, they don't stick out well enough, unless you have a lot of them. Do you have any goose decoys or a spinner? That helps for visibility and drawing them to you.

When you talk about small ponds and transistion sloughs are you talking about the same thing or something different?
ND is full of small potholes, the transition sloughs are the one's the birds are currently using in route from the roost to the field. When scouting you'll be able to determine the difference.
 

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As everyone said before the honker goose decoys work well. We've used the mallard floaters as a way to direct the ducks that come to the spread to a specific area after they have seen the geese decoys. Otherwise floaters alone are a little weak in drawing power.

Used 75 floaters one year in a field the mallards were using and did real well. The ducks were in a field, they were migrators and evidently were real hungry. We drove out to the field, tossed the decoys out and hid by a rock pile....10 minutes later we had ducks pouring into the field.... sometimes you never know what is going to work.

I'll have to say also that we used to shoot many mallards over snow goose decoys with the floaters in the middle of the spread by the blinds. I may try using 200 or so snow goose northwinds and experiment even though there are no snow geese in the area...I think it'll work, with the spinners and floaters in the landing zone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Tell me if you think this will work for a field spread. I fly in to ND so goose decoys are not an option for me. But I have an idea, I do have 100 snow goose rags. If I place the snows out and then create a landing zone for the ducks with my two spinners and 24 mallard do you think that would work to draw the ducks into a field or do the ducks and snows not mix? If the ground is white with snow, do water decoys in the field have any more pulling power? I do have a canadian goose flag to "get their attention". What do you think? Thanks again.
 

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joel barber said:
I place the snows out and then create a landing zone for the ducks with my two spinners and 24 mallard do you think that would work to draw the ducks into a field or do the ducks and snows not mix? If the ground is white with snow, do water decoys in the field have any more pulling power? I do have a canadian goose flag to "get their attention". What do you think? Thanks again.
Yes, snows and ducks feed together all the time, moreso than canadas in my experience. I think that would work.

And yes, if there's snow on the ground the floaters will work better. I can't say I've had a lot of success working ducks with a Canada flag for your other Q.

As to Field Hunter's expirament, when I was younger that is all we did for field hunting. Heck we've setup a couple hundred snow goose windsocks when there wasn't a snow goose for hundreds of miles. For whatever reason, the ducks feel safe around snows and will drop in without a care in the world.
 
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