Canvasbacks are king of the ducks and mallards probably top every hardcore hunter’s list, but bagging wood ducks sat at the very top of my duck-hunting bucket list. Before I launch into tips and trivia about these beautiful creatures, I’d like to tell you a story about wood duck hunting that features my favorite dog.
Finding wood ducks became elusive for me, even as an avid duck hunter. I spent many chilly mornings in blinds or flooded wood timbers – 10 years’ worth, in fact, of hoping to get a glance or shot at my first wood duck. Two states and 5 guides later, I bagged Mister Woody. I could not believe my luck had changed!
My time was well spent in nature as I learned many valuable tips and insights from great duck hunting guides about these little spooky ducks. When I finally chose one to go to the taxidermist, as a memento of a wonderful hunt, I thought long and hard about how I wanted it posed. After I received the finished mount, I placed it in one of the most important “first-glance” places of my trophy room. I loved that duck and his beauty surpassed all my other ducks, hands down.
I am not the only one who loves that duck, though. Last year, upon returning from a blacktail deer hunt in northern California, I picked up my hunting dog, Shaka, a Deutsch Drahthaar, from Camp Chuck (her trainer’s kennel and school). She ran wildly and crazily through our trophy room, sniffing for any new mounts – only to be disappointed. After things calmed down, I noticed she was quiet and not to be found.
Holy crap! She had retrieved Mister Woody again. On command, she dropped my prize possession. I discovered, however, that Mister Woody was missing his left foot! I went on another quest – to find a left foot for my wood duck. I sent out an SOS to every wood duck hunter across the US to come to the aid, and send me an orange left foot. Nothing. No response.
I finally called upon my favorite duck guide in Oklahoma and he had the perfect small slough in a brushy spot. I booked a quick hunt to the north, and bagged two drakes and a hen – only to notice that none of them sported orange feet.
I’m hoping that someday, I’ll be able to replace Mister Woody’s left foot, but until then, I still relish the thought of that particular hunt.
Did you know?
Wood ducks hang around northernmost regions longer than people realize, even though they rule the first days of a waterfowler’s autumn.
TIP: Wood Ducks alter their feeding, loafing and roosting areas – even their flight paths – to avoid hunting pressure.
Did you know?
Wood ducks don’t often decoy in classic fashion. They do not circle endlessly or offer multiple chances of a shot. You shoot them as they make their first pass.
Tip: As wood ducks approach, they flare and offer streak over-head shots, much like shooting teal. I suggest you take iffy shots at woodies.
If you missed Judy’s previous pointers you can read them here.