A mallard drake cruises by a beaver lodge. Such locations sometimes hold greenheads like this one—now during the breeding season; later on hunts. PGC courtesy photo
By Steve Hickoff
Once June comes on the radar following spring turkey seasons and early fishing, a waterfowler’s thoughts turn toward early fall. Since much of what we do is planning fueled by anticipation, here are some options to keep your head in the game before duck and goose seasons arrive:
Work It Out
Condition your dog. You’ve likely been a little obsessed with gobblers and biting bass of late, sitting for the first quarry, and standing for the other. While you’ve had your fun, chances are that retriever has waited patiently at home, growing larger rather than leaner. That might make two of you. With only summer between you and fall hunts, it’s time to get both of you in shape. Run together on a regular basis, harness and lead doing their job. Throw that bumper for your canine hunting buddy. Get that team mindset now.
Clean It Up
Last waterfowling season probably came in a hurry. It left you happily exhausted, with game in the freezer, and memories to carry you through winter and spring. Now is the time to return to your mud-splattered gear. Are those decoys in need of a paint touch-up? Do it. Maybe you want to buy a new call or two just to keep you busy during rush-hour traffic? It’s time to contact landowners who give you permission to hunt their properties. Renew that friendship. Lock down access now in the off-season.
Float that Marsh
Got skiff? By definition a skiff is a small, flat-bottomed open boat. While many of you go duck and goose hunting with bigger watercraft, small hunting skiffs offer much in the way of backwater access. They’re fun to use, and you can stash them in tight places too. Consider the range of options out there. These lightweight boats can also be used when fishing this summer as you get accustomed to maneuvering one before the early waterfowling arrives come September.
Ride to the Hatch
Right now as you read this, duck and goose broods are hatching around the country. A ride to specific nesting locations—with binoculars in hand to keep your distance—might just be the antidote for the summertime blues. Hop on your Yamaha ATV, and check out such spots on your four wheels. It’ll do your heart good to see those ducklings and goslings in the off-season. The enjoyment had while riding is a bonus.