Calling Mallards in Frozen Fields

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Calling Mallards in Frozen Fields

Postby SpinnerMan » Fri Aug 11, 2017 10:10 am

Until about 3 years ago, I had never shot a duck in a field. First one was a pair of hen pintails I called in that responded just as I would expect if I were hunting over water.

However, since then seeing a lot more mallards in the fields, I believe my calling has had zero effect on the ducks. Didn't run them off, but didn't bring them in. Over water, I'm OK. I am definitely killing more ducks because I have a call. In the fields, it just seems like I am making no difference.

How is it different calling mallards in a field than over water? Last year was quite frustrating. We killed a fair number of ducks, but it seems like we should have been able to call in some more. Look for tips on doing things differently in the field versus over water.

I'm going to improve my spread, but I really think I'm missing something in the calling and I have no idea what it is.
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Re: Calling Mallards in Frozen Fields

Postby aunt betty » Fri Aug 11, 2017 10:21 am

If you had a twenty-foot-long duck call you'd be twenty feet closer and maybe they'd hear you calling.
I've heard that it's incredibly stupid to fuck around with a crazy man's head.
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Re: Calling Mallards in Frozen Fields

Postby Rick » Fri Aug 11, 2017 11:05 am

My Northern field duck hunting was all before spinners made it much easier. Scouting and being ON the "x" was key if dealing with with more than a few incidental birds. Big bunches knew EXACTLY where they were going, and being within a hundred or so yards of that spot could make or break your hunt. Singles, pairs and small bunches would, however, often work to wherever our Canada spreads were.

Spinners seem to have changed that game.
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Re: Calling Mallards in Frozen Fields

Postby DukMan » Fri Aug 11, 2017 12:21 pm

I think it's a combination of being where they want to be and using spinners... I've had ducks drop out of the stratosphere to land on top of a spinner in the middle of 2' tall grass... and I've run a complete goose spread and had 5,000 ducks land in the decoys without a duck call on my lanyard... I think calls work well for singles to flocks of 4-5 more than that they've already made up their mind and play follow the leader...

I also noticed in the NoDak that I had better success with decoying dusks over a mixed duck/goose spread or even just a goose spread.... I ran full body ducks and 3 spinners with limited success...
2018 Totals
4 Canadian Geese
7 Blue Wing Teal
2 Green Wing Teal
1 Gadwall
1 Black Duck
1 Canvasback
6 Bufflehead
12 Mallards ( 10 drakes + 2 hens)
10 Wood Ducks

Mergansers
1 Hooded ( 1 Drake)
1 Common ( 1 Hen)
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Re: Calling Mallards in Frozen Fields

Postby SpinnerMan » Fri Aug 11, 2017 12:28 pm

Do you call any different to those small groups in a field compared to over water?

They were just much less responsive than I would expect. Maybe that is just how it is.
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Re: Calling Mallards in Frozen Fields

Postby aunt betty » Fri Aug 11, 2017 12:51 pm

Never hunted fields a lot for ducks.
Have been lucky, or unlucky enough, to see huge flocks of resting birds call in other birds.
Hunt SangCris Lake a couple times and watch.
If you're feeling bored leave your gun in the boat/blind and wander onto the refuge then watch and listen.
They'll teach you what works in a single morning.

Been going thru the hoard in the old farm house and found some old maps of SangCris along with some of my dad's old hunting licenses. Apparently I've been following him around a lot without him knowing it but 20 years later.
Try to get a blind numbered above 45 and below 51 or 52.
Number 50 is what gets taken first just about every single day.
I've heard that it's incredibly stupid to fuck around with a crazy man's head.
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Re: Calling Mallards in Frozen Fields

Postby aunt betty » Fri Aug 11, 2017 1:17 pm

Back in the 1980's people in southern Illinois were painting goose floaters into giant mallard decoys. Was an odd sight but for a few years it was a growing fad.
Probably inspired the magnum decoy makers.
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Re: Calling Mallards in Frozen Fields

Postby DukMan » Fri Aug 11, 2017 1:59 pm

SpinnerMan wrote:Do you call any different to those small groups in a field compared to over water?

They were just much less responsive than I would expect. Maybe that is just how it is.


I rely heavily on a feeding chuckle.. when they are heading my direction but look disinterested...

Maple leafing or cupped up... My call is silent

Swinging I send out a few single quacks... and tail feathers will get a series of (quack, quuuaaacckk, quuuuuaaaacccckkkk)

The trick is understanding the difference between a flare and just a normal swing... wailing out a comeback call or highball on swinging ducks will drive them off....
2018 Totals
4 Canadian Geese
7 Blue Wing Teal
2 Green Wing Teal
1 Gadwall
1 Black Duck
1 Canvasback
6 Bufflehead
12 Mallards ( 10 drakes + 2 hens)
10 Wood Ducks

Mergansers
1 Hooded ( 1 Drake)
1 Common ( 1 Hen)
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Re: Calling Mallards in Frozen Fields

Postby SpinnerMan » Fri Aug 11, 2017 2:25 pm

I appreciate the comments from everybody.

johnc wrote:We kill a good many ducks with basically very few duck decoys and substantial goose decoys at times and the field not at all ideally set for ducks

What is substantial? Typically I'm hunting over about 85 full body geese and about 4 dozen goose shells. Duck decoys are a little light, but at least 2 spinners on remotes. The best day we had for ducks I think we had 4 spinners and maybe 2 dozen duck decoys.

I think we were generally fine on the spread. Although I am going to add to it. It just never seemed like the ducks were listening. Very few showed any signs of any response good or bad. I really think I should be able to do better under the conditions we had.

I need to fix my one spinner stake because my buddy thought he could pound it into the frozen ground :roll: What do you think that drill was for that I gave you? :evil:

DukMan wrote:I rely heavily on a feeding chuckle.. when they are heading my direction but look disinterested...

Maple leafing or cupped up... My call is silent

Swinging I send out a few single quacks... and tail feathers will get a series of (quack, quuuaaacckk, quuuuuaaaacccckkkk)

The trick is understanding the difference between a flare and just a normal swing... wailing out a comeback call or highball on swinging ducks will drive them off....

I'm used to duck hunting under what are terrible conditions of fighting your neighbors to control the ducks. It sounds like I was either being far too aggressive or far too quite. I need to find something more in the middle. Something that where I normally hunt means that you lose all your ducks to the guy in the next blind. However, the fields I've started hunt after it freezes, in most cases there is no other hunter in earshot of the ducks.
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Re: Calling Mallards in Frozen Fields

Postby DukMan » Fri Aug 11, 2017 3:11 pm

Well I think it's tough for us Upper Midwest guys... lets be honest Northern Illinois and WI aren't know for their duck numbers so when we do get a chance at field mallards I'm sure they've seen it all before... out in NoDak with thousands upon thousands of ducks it's not that hard to run into couple limits of dumb ones...

Same here in WI when it comes to hunting public land... everyone and their brother in the marsh is wailing on their calls like there's some 90lb mallard sitting in the marsh and then taking 70 yard shots in fear the swinging ducks are heading to the next guys spread...

No matter what you do, you may have tough time... that's why I pack up the trailer every two years and head for North Dakota.
2018 Totals
4 Canadian Geese
7 Blue Wing Teal
2 Green Wing Teal
1 Gadwall
1 Black Duck
1 Canvasback
6 Bufflehead
12 Mallards ( 10 drakes + 2 hens)
10 Wood Ducks

Mergansers
1 Hooded ( 1 Drake)
1 Common ( 1 Hen)
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Re: Calling Mallards in Frozen Fields

Postby aunt betty » Fri Aug 11, 2017 3:14 pm

You need to get you some trained mallard decoys.

Old Arkansas local boy told me the full version of his trained decoy saga that ended with his gang surrounded by gw's as they shot the decoys because the jig was up. (they actually had the decoys named and I wonder if one was named Kenny)
Apparently old guy had his wife trained to release the decoys at LST. They'd fly to the hole and not get shot usually.

Not sure I believed the guy because he was hanging up the ugliest taxidermied escaped farm-duck I have ever seen. Hung it on the wall at Bayou Bottoms. We all giggled but nobody said a word. Not one word.

Had one heck of a story though. His name was Clem.
I've heard that it's incredibly stupid to fuck around with a crazy man's head.
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Re: Calling Mallards in Frozen Fields

Postby SpinnerMan » Fri Aug 11, 2017 3:37 pm

DukMan wrote:everyone and their brother in the marsh is wailing on their calls like there's some 90lb mallard sitting in the marsh

Which blows out a large fractions of the ducks, but the ones it does not, if you don't grab hold and don't let go with your calling they will go to one of the other 5 guys that is wailing on them.

DukMan wrote:then taking 70 yard shots in fear the swinging ducks are heading to the next guys spread...

The upside is I hunt a club which only allows shooting at decoying ducks. That and knowing the guys name and that you will see him the next morning in the club house keeps this part to a minimum. It does not however stop the combat calling.
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Re: Calling Mallards in Frozen Fields

Postby DukMan » Fri Aug 11, 2017 7:46 pm

[quote="SpinnerMan"]
The upside is I hunt a club...[quote]

I've always wondered what it was like to hunt a club... is it worth the money? I've never seen the appeal, nor the need in our neck of the woods...
2018 Totals
4 Canadian Geese
7 Blue Wing Teal
2 Green Wing Teal
1 Gadwall
1 Black Duck
1 Canvasback
6 Bufflehead
12 Mallards ( 10 drakes + 2 hens)
10 Wood Ducks

Mergansers
1 Hooded ( 1 Drake)
1 Common ( 1 Hen)
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Re: Calling Mallards in Frozen Fields

Postby SpinnerMan » Sat Aug 12, 2017 8:17 am

DukMan wrote:
SpinnerMan wrote:The upside is I hunt a club...


I've always wondered what it was like to hunt a club... is it worth the money? I've never seen the appeal, nor the need in our neck of the woods...

I live in the suburbs. Access is really a pain, especially given the Illinois laws on navigable waters, which is clearly not legal per federal law, but it's Illinois. The law is how those in power get what they want. They redrew our duck zones because some rich people wanted to move from the central to the north zone. Screwed the serious river hunters in the area by taking their best week.

You either have to know people (not an option unless you grew up here), spend a ton of time knocking on doors and/or a lot of other hassles, hope to draw a blind or deal with daily draws, or join a club. Around here, for people like me, moved here in 2002, it's hands down the best way.

I really didn't have a lot of choice if I wanted to hunt without a lot of hassles or having to drive a long ways on the weekends. It turned out way better than I could have expected. Now I'm in two clubs. My main club and then my late season club, which I joined two years ago, which is where I am now getting into field hunting ducks. I've hunted late season geese in that area for awhile with people I got to know at the first club, which is one benefit of a club.

The main club I joined about 12 years ago. It's 5 minutes from my house. I have a job that allows me to hunt before work. I can hunt every day as long as my job doesn't take me out of town, which unfortunately it does a fair amount. I also can archery hunt there. It's not great for either, but the convenience is great. Plus I got to know other guys which has lead to other things. We have a couple grass fields for geese and 18 water blinds.

If it is windy I hunt ducks, if it is calm I hunt deer, and if it rains I catch up on my sleep. That's what I do every day from the start of duck season until we get froze out. I hunt early goose and used to hunt late geese.

The club by my house. I can leave my boat. If I have a blind I like, I can leave all my decoys out. If I don't, I can jump unclaimed blinds. At this point, I know almost everybody at the club. I'm actually on the board now. Lots of convenience and lots of benefits from getting to know a lot of other hunters. And the rest of the year I can fish, train my dog when I had one, there is camping, picnic areas, etc. The lakes are maintained well for fishing. There is an archery range. And the cost is not that much. You own a share and can sell it. They are currently going for about $3k. Annual dues are $250 and you have to work one day. I probably hunt 20 days more a year than I would otherwise. Best thing I've ever done as far as hunting.

Once that club gets froze out, they are done for ducks. Nothing holds a lot of ducks, so breaking ice is normally a wasted effort. Goose hunting can be OK to very good. The season ends early January. My blind partner and his brother have a field in the central zone near Braidwood. I got hooked up with them and that's where I hunted until the end of January. Braidwood was written about in DU a few years ago. It is a goose hunting mecca in the late season. The lake can hold 100,000 Canadas and 10's of thousands of ducks when things are froze out to the north, especially when there is plenty of snow. As a result it's pretty tough to get access. A couple bad winters, too warm, and they just stopped. I all but begged and offered to literally do everything but talk to the farmer. No go. So I had to find another spot, which got me into the second club.

This club has 11 pits, and maybe half dozen fields for layouts. Each pit has 70 bigfoots and a couple dozen shells, a heater with propane. It's $300 initiation and $650 per year with one work day. It can get crowded when hunting is very good, but everybody shoots out on geese so some guys don't even go out and just jump in the hot blind. The club kills a lot of geese when we have cold snowy winters. If that hits before the end of duck season, they kill a lot of ducks too.

These are hunter clubs. Just guys that set them up so they could hunt without a lot of hassle. If I wasn't in Chicagoland, I would have never dreamed of joining a club. I grew up where I often simply grabbed my shotgun and me and the dog walked a couple blocks to the edge of town and started hunting. There was no issue with access and there were not 10,000,000 people living withing a 20 mile radius. There were probably not 100,000 people within a 20 mile radius. Although half of them seemed to deer hunt. Now however, I would look into it even if access was not a problem because there are a lot of benefits that come with having a big group of hunters.
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Re: Calling Mallards in Frozen Fields

Postby aunt betty » Sat Aug 12, 2017 8:53 am

Toss me into that pay-to-hunt dynamic with guys who pay and it'd go to hell in a handbasket in two weeks.
Last day I guided for Canada Geese was a total disaster with three Richie Riches from Chicago.
When the boss's son showed up at tip-taking time I hopped out the front of the pit an skeedaddled hasty quick.
Left them all stunned and scratching their heads.

Those three chuckleheads had spent the entire time in that pit trying to impress a poor college kid (me) about how rich they were. Got to hear all about mansions with 15 bedrooms, car stables full of antique cars (oh God)...and how junior was a major-league ball player. They'd bought complete new Browning hunting costumes that morning. One caught himself on fire and burned up his new clothes. I'd had enough but stuck it out until Jeff showed up. :scooter:
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Re: Calling Mallards in Frozen Fields

Postby SpinnerMan » Sat Aug 12, 2017 9:05 am

aunt betty wrote:Toss me into that pay-to-hunt dynamic with guys who pay and it'd go to hell in a handbasket in two weeks.

Both clubs are not rich people clubs. They are not pay-to-hunt or guided. They are really not that different than the local fire hall or any other type of social club. Just hunters making the best of how things are around here. You got a mix of people, but for the most part it is craftsmen and construction workers. The guy that runs the braidwood club is a fireman and just wanted to have a better set up around braidwood, so he created the club to pool resources and now instead of having one field for one group of guys, he has about 20 fields spread around. You would fit right in both.

This assumption that clubs are for the rich is simply not true. Obviously there are those clubs, but there are far more clubs like this that are just ordinary hunters that see the value of pooling resources so you can have a far better situation than they could ever by themselves. When you consider how much you spend on hunting, the cost is very small compared to the benefits. I hunt a lot more and put on far less miles than I would otherwise would.
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Re: Calling Mallards in Frozen Fields

Postby aunt betty » Sat Aug 12, 2017 11:34 am

SpinnerMan wrote:
aunt betty wrote:Toss me into that pay-to-hunt dynamic with guys who pay and it'd go to hell in a handbasket in two weeks.

Both clubs are not rich people clubs. They are not pay-to-hunt or guided. They are really not that different than the local fire hall or any other type of social club. Just hunters making the best of how things are around here. You got a mix of people, but for the most part it is craftsmen and construction workers. The guy that runs the braidwood club is a fireman and just wanted to have a better set up around braidwood, so he created the club to pool resources and now instead of having one field for one group of guys, he has about 20 fields spread around. You would fit right in both.

This assumption that clubs are for the rich is simply not true. Obviously there are those clubs, but there are far more clubs like this that are just ordinary hunters that see the value of pooling resources so you can have a far better situation than they could ever by themselves. When you consider how much you spend on hunting, the cost is very small compared to the benefits. I hunt a lot more and put on far less miles than I would otherwise would.

From what I hear Braidwood Hunt Club has a forty-acre field and that's it.
I seem to run into the guys with lightweight custom made Binelli shotguns every time I go to some sort of social hunting group. I know they're all firemen, union carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and police officers and that don't bother me. The whole dynamic is what does.
You really need to pay and go to Corky's Run-of-the-Luck and see how your luck goes. Them dudes lie like dogs and try to sell you stuff while in field. They'll tell you that they have six or eight fields but you only see one in four years of going there. If you want to buy cell-phone minutes or green algae pills that are guaranteed to make you make 18-inch one-piece terds call Corky's. 8-)
I've heard that it's incredibly stupid to fuck around with a crazy man's head.
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Re: Calling Mallards in Frozen Fields

Postby SpinnerMan » Sat Aug 12, 2017 6:36 pm

aunt betty wrote:From what I hear Braidwood Hunt Club has a forty-acre field and that's it.

I don't really know anything about it. I don't believe it is a club, but a pay by the day guided hunt. Both clubs I'm in are do-it-yourself clubs. No guides, you are on your own. You don't hunt with anyone you don't want to hunt with. You want to hunt by yourself, you can.
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Re: Calling Mallards in Frozen Fields

Postby aunt betty » Sat Aug 12, 2017 7:43 pm

SpinnerMan wrote:
aunt betty wrote:From what I hear Braidwood Hunt Club has a forty-acre field and that's it.

I don't really know anything about it. I don't believe it is a club, but a pay by the day guided hunt. Both clubs I'm in are do-it-yourself clubs. No guides, you are on your own. You don't hunt with anyone you don't want to hunt with. You want to hunt by yourself, you can.

Braidwood is pay-hunting at it's finest. You never know...you could share a pit with my buddies and that uhhh ....errrrr....
Whatshisname??? Oh yeah, Jeff Foiles. Them snowy goose hunting videos he made were at Braidwood.

Speaking of freezing you better get you some of that fresh sweet corn that's everyfuckinwhere right now and freeze it.
Pulling out good sweet corn in February is powerful medicine.

If you go to Braidwood show them this picture and ask for him to guide. They'll get a good laff and he probably will too.
13769334_1757377211212099_684379301021770632_n.jpg

he's all better now. Went to Dave Donaldson last year.
By the way I'm not kidding. That guy could teach you a thing or two about calling birds. He's got the touch.
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