Some tips for waterfowlers

Some tips for waterfowlers
Photo courtesy of Don Gassaway

Buddy Don Gassaway shared this with me...

During late season waterfowl hunting, pay attention to what the birds are doing.  Know everything about them.  Every day is different.  That is the advice of veteran goose hunter Kelley Powers.  

Powers, of Union City, TN has been hunting late season birds for much of his life.  He has formulated some theories and some educated guesses on the why of duck and goose behavior. Along the way, Kelly has won numerous goose calling contests including several in Williamson County.  

“I am no biologist,” says Powers, “But from what I understand, in the early part of the migration, the birds are building up on high protein food sources.” 

Later in the season when temperatures moderate a lot of birds hit the shallow water areas and they are feeding on invertebrates.  Many grain crops are not as attractive to them.  The late season duck’s food source changes slightly.   As far as movement, Powers sees a lot of good movement in the warmer weather.  The main element is to have wind.  It seems to take wind to get ducks to move.  On still days when it is warm, clear or cloudy, they just do not want to fly.  As it gets warmer, they head out to smaller areas with water.  During colder temperatures on big water ducks hold. Big water stays open longer.  It is not prone to freeze as quickly.  

“We tend to use more decoys during the early part of the season,” explains Powers. 

Once there are birds in the area, especially next to a major impoundment, he has to change the decoy set up every day.  He also scales back to a smaller decoy spread.   Generally before weather fronts move through birds tend to be a little more active.  They know the weather is about to hit and the change in the barometric pressure is the key.  It starts changing right before the front.   What pushes the front through is a high pressure system.  Ducks migrate more frequently in high pressure weather than with low pressure.  It is because they can fly at higher altitudes with high pressure.  The hardest part of a duck’s exertion is the exhaling part where with a human it is the inhaling.  In high pressure situations birds can fly at a higher altitude and it is easier to make those long distance flights.  

Early in the season ducks respond better because you have more juvenile birds out there.  If there are a couple of juvenile birds within a flock they will respond to a call better.  There are going to be more of them than later in the season.  Calling wise it is tougher going later in the year.  Powers watches how the birds respond and how they are behaving.  If it is no wind then he scales the calling down.  Less is best.  

Powers final advice is always check to see what birds want to hear first.  If you don’t get the first or second flock, it is time to have a discussion with your hunting friends.  Each says what they think is happening.  Then with the next flock try calling a lot and try other scenarios.  If they still do not respond go back into conference again.  Change it again.  Soon you will probably find your fit.  Then the rest of the day is more productive.  You have to be always aware of “let’s figure it out, figure it out.”   You may never figure it out but you might get a little bit closer.  

Free information regarding motel accommodations and points of interest is available from Williamson County Tourism Bureau, 1602 Sioux Drive, Marion, Illinois 62959 or by calling 1-800-GEESE-99.  Information is also available online at, the Williamson County Tourism Bureau website.  Their e-mail address is  

Filed under: Hunting

Tags: hunting, Illinois Outdoors, Outdoors

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