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.
Judy Rhodes, the Voice of Women in the Outdoors is an outdoor visionary and mentor to women and youth in the outdoors. Judy, Founder of DIVA ... Women Outdoors Worldwide is the largest women's ONLY outdoor organization. DIVA WOW is a non-profit 501(c)3 unique all volunteer sisterhood dedicated to encouraging women to discover their outdoor passion. View all posts by Judy Rhodes