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Trip Preparations ?

2421 Views 5 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  KEN W
Three anxious Georgia boys driving to ND for the first time the first week in Oct. and need advise. We plan to target the Northeast to Nortcentral part of the state and are after some good field and slough hunting for puddlers & Canadas. We primarly hunt marshes and flooded timber back home. I've been reading past posts on ND field and slough tactics but still have some unaswered questions:
1. Are full body, shell or silhouette duck/goose decoys best for fields?
2. How many goose vs duck decoys work best for fields?
3. What should the spread configuration for decoys be? Where should the ground blinds be in the spread?
4. Will the birds flare from my dog or do I need a field blind for him as well? Or do I not use him for the fields?
5. For slough hunting, do we need a boat (we have a Riverhawk which is a canoe like boat w/ 15hp)? How deep are the typical sloughs(if there is such a thing)?
6. If we use a boat, how do you put into the sloughs?
7. Is there a need for much calling in the fields? How about in the sloughs?

Thanks in advance for the replies!
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Well here goes for a reply.

1. Full bodies for geese work best. But shells and silos work well too.

2. Watch what the geese do and how many are in the field this should give you a good indication. We usually set up 36-72 full bodies for canadas. But you don't have to have full bodies. I would say three dozen shells will work fine. Mix in some silos and you should be good.

3. I have a dozen duck shells and mix them in with the goose decoys or put them up wind of the goose decoys. But the ducks will come right in to goose decoys without any duck decoys in them. Bring a spinner and put that thing right next to your blind. Use it to decoy the ducks. Watch how they work. Sometimes you can leave it on and they will come right in and sometimes they are drawn to it but will flare. Sometimes you have to turn it totally off. Watch the ducks react to it. This is most important. When the geese start flying turn the spinner off. They will flare from it. Trust me on this one.
4. Your dog should be fine if he lays still.

5. I have never hunted out of a boat in my life most of the duck sloughs are shallow enough to wade in. The ones where you need a boat are usually roosts and you want to leave them alone anyway. Usually before the ducks go out to feed they will stop at a small slough after coming off big water. I don't know why they do it but they do for some reason. Find these small sloughs and hunt them if you want to hunt water. The shooting is really good and it won't drive out the ducks.

6. I'm not a duck caller but usually they don't require it. My dad will give some contented hen quacks now and again and it does work well some days when the birds won't finish down to that 20yd range. If you get in a good field the ducks will land a lot of the time if you let them.

7. If you want to shoot ducks and geese in ND the most important thing is scouting. If you find a good feed field and put the birds to bed your shooting will usually be really good no matter what type of equipment you have. I've shot lots of ducks in fields with no call no decoys no blind. Just cammy clothes and my shotgun. Make sure to set up exactly where you saw the birds feed the night before. If your off by two hundred yards it might be a complete bust. I hope this helps you. have a great hunt.
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What towns are you targeting?

1. We generally use 12 bigfoots, 4 dozen canada Sillouetes a dozen Mallard shells and 12 suc ducks for ducks in the fields, although we have used our mallard water decoys propped up in the fields with good success as well. Also bring at least one spinner. We have a remote control to shut off when geese come in to the spread. A goose flag works well if the geese are a little shy.
2. We usually put the ground blinds in the opening in the middle of the canadas right behind the mallard decoys. We spread the canadas in a u-shape with the Mallards at the back of the U.
3. We don't have a dog so no info.
4. Although we don't use a boat...sometimes a small boat would be nice for the larger sloughs/lakes. Chest waders would be adequate in most cases. ASK PERMISSION from the landowners to put in....or WPAs I guess you have to drag across the filed to the water...not many boat landings.
5. Use the calls as much as you can. Ever hear ducks and honkers feeding in a field.....there's a lot of noise. Especially the mallards.
6. The biggest thing when field hunting is SCOUT, SCOUT, SCOUT. No sense setting up in a field if the ducks and geese weren't there the night before. If you run into a situation where more than one party is scouting the same field, be flexible and try to join up for the day....most guys know what they're doing and double the decoys can't hurt....assuming they aren't just laying on the ground....the geese will pick you out without a ground my opinion.
7. It also doesn't hurt to ASK Permission to hunt the field even if is not posted

Any other question feel free to PM me.

Good Luck
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Gandergrinder (cool name) & FieldHunter, thanks for the replies...this does help.

FieldHunter, everything I've read here and on other duck huter's forums indicate to stay away from the Devil's Lake area for a multitude of reasons and also suggest the further north you go, the less pressure and more access to unposted land.

We will be heading out on 10/3 and should take us two days drive. We will be there for a week. We would welcome any advise as to what general areas to target that will have hotels allowing for 50-75 mile radius to good hunting areas. We will be driving a diesel SUV that allows for a lot of windshield time so scouting will not be a problem. I know you can't predict where the ducks will be nor am I asking for anyone's hole but we have absolutely no knowledge of your state and looking for guidance.

As of right now in our planning process, we are struggling with what specific area to start with. Do we start in the SE part of the state and drive northwestward (to contend w/ land access and pressure) or do we set our sites on the nortcentral part of the state and go from there? Perhaps the Minot or Rugby areas?
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First, I would start by getting a good atlas of ND, one that shows the topographical areas as well as the lakes and potholes. Pick an area that has many potholes (NE, SE, South Central, NW) I think all areas of the state are as good as the rest. Many times here you go is dependent on where you can get lodging. If you haven't gotten anythhing lined up yet, I would't wait too long or you maybe staying in one of the larger cities or doing some camping.

Secondly, as to your mention of "less access to unposted land", ASK for permission to hunt unposted land. You will meet some great people and no one will trouble you during a hunt. Most guys will give you permission.
As I've said in the past...draw a line from the SE corner to the NW corner and 100 miles either side of the line will be good.Plus the NE corner has had a lot of rain.We are somewhat drier here north of Minot.Haven't had any rain this month.

To add to the good info above...go to and order the PLOTS book or just copy the area you want on your printer.It will show all public areas in the state including Federal WPA's and State land.You can't drive on WPA'S.You won't need a boat.I haven't used one in the past 40 years.

You will be amazed at all the potholes it would be a good idea to have enough duck water decoys to set up 2 or 3 seperate settings.The ducks will just go over the hill to the next pothole and you can keep them moving if you split up.

For field hunting you can all hunt together.Set up in a U shape and sit on the ends of the U.The birds will come right up the center into a crossfire.
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