There are many passionate hunters, but none compare to those who bear the freezing winter temperatures to lie in layout blinds and await morning flocks. If you’re looking for a new addiction, head out to the water’s edge and learn to hunt with the best.
Women are flocking to waterfowl hunting like no tomorrow because honestly, it’s a blast (Pun intended.). Before you get excited and head to the cattails, though, take a moment to read these tips from a few of the best women waterfowl hunters.
Debra Lee, of Rave Retrievers, is a serious dog trainer and, even more, a serious waterfowl hunter.
Debra advocated, first and foremost that you must practice with your gun: “A new waterfowl hunter should practice. Practice from a lying down position and sitting up, and then swinging.” If you’ll be sitting in someone else’s layout blind, practice in your living room at home. Good practice will create a great hunter. Note: Always practice with an unloaded gun.
Debra also mentioned the difference between Texas and Colorado. She says in Texas you should prepare for bugs joining you in the layout blind; bring insect repellent. In the Tundra, warmth is an issue so waterproof clothes and a good warm dog are helpful. Debra says, “If you are a beginner, make sure you are hunting with experienced people. You can learn a lot from them.“
I asked Shannon Schwenke, of Gander Valley Custom Calls Pro Staff, to share her best tips. Right off the bat, she listed safety. “Things can get fast and furious at times during a waterfowl hunt. Gun safety is always the most important thing out in the field.”
Shannon reminds us to keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction and make sure the safety is always put back on after a volley and before reloading. Be aware of your hunting partner or the dog retrieving downed birds, which are often in front of the layout blinds.
“When hunting from a layout blind, you want to wear clothing that is easy to move in, but not bulky. Once you snuggle down in your blind, find a safe and comfortable place to rest your shotgun. I rest mine on top of my body, on the outside of the blind with the stock near my armpit in a ready position. Never put the muzzle inside of the blind.”
“Once you feel comfortable in your blind, practice sitting up while mounting your gun and take a few practice swings on imaginary ducks,” said Shannon. “This gives you a feel for how things will work when the birds come in and also gives you a chance to tweak your position or move stubble that your gun might get caught up in, etc.“
Lastly, Shannon says, “Always keep your ‘shooting your zone’ in mind. While you’re sitting in your blind, looking straight ahead is your 12 o’clock. The general rule of thumb is to keep your gun muzzle pointed somewhere between the 10 and 2 o’clock positions. This keeps you from swinging in front of or shooting past your neighbor or ringing their ears.”
Wildlife photographer and waterfowl guru Gretchen Steele explains more about layout blinds. After all, these places are where you’ll be hanging out for hours on end. Although the blinds are designed for concealment, there is much to consider in using them.
“Just like everything in the outdoors – fit is a big deal when it comes to layout blinds. Look at all different kinds and all different sizes. If you get a blind that’s too small (Many smaller hunters are tempted to go with a youth layout blind, and those are usually too small.), and you’ll be too cramped, too uncomfortable and won’t be able to shoot properly because you’ll be stuffed in like a sardine.” Gretchen warns, “A blind that’s too big is just as bad. It’s heavy, awkward, and a bear to carry in and out of the field.”
In the interest of concealment, Gretchen said, “It honestly doesn’t matter what camo pattern you pick for a layout blind. You need to mud that puppy up, set it in the sun, and for heavens sake, get rid of that new blind shine! Always brush it in with whatever vegetation is around where you’re hunting. Make it look like a barely noticeable little hump at best. Pile decoys around it. Too many newbies to layout blind hunting forget to brush adequately and conceal the blind.”
Lose the bling
“Ladies, take the diamonds and other shiny earrings off! They WILL flare birds!” said Gretchen.
The Women's Outdoor News, aka The WON, features news, reviews and stories about women who are shooting, hunting, fishing and actively engaging in outdoor adventure. This publication is for women, by women. View all posts by The WON
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