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Get Ready for Waterfowl Season

Author: Mark Mazour

Being the gear head that I am, I decided to check out my gear and make sure I was ready for the upcoming waterfowl season.

This dog was ready for the season.
Being the gear head that I am, I decided I would finally get around to checking out my gear and make sure I was ready for this year.

Nothing beats the magic of opening day, and I want to be sure everything is just right when that first flight tips its wings towards my spread.

Waders - A good time to find out if your waders are leaking is before you have waded into the water for a quarter-mile. I can remember a couple years where my waders sprung a leak toward the end of the season, and I had good intentions of fixing it in the off season. However, come opening day, I would get a cold reminder of the maintenance I had let slip by the wayside.

If you even think you have a leak, test your waders in a local pond during the summer. If you can find the leak, Aquaseal makes a great product to seal up your waders, and it works great on neoprene. I use it whenever I get a nick in my neoprenes, just to be sure it doesn't turn into a leak.

Get those decoys ready
Decoys - By the end of waterfowl season, it is always cold, and neatness is no longer a priority when it comes to picking up the decoys. I always just throw my dekes into the bag as fast as I can with anchors and line thrown everywhere. The end result is usually a tangled mess. The best thing you can do before heading out is to dump all your decoys out on the lawn. Then you can untangle the mess and check for missing anchors or frayed line. It is a lot easier to rig up a spread with new anchors or decoy line in your front yard, than finding broken lines or missing anchors 10 minutes before shooting light.

If your decoys are like mine, they get some serious use - I don't baby them. Between getting thrown in the back of the truck or tossed in the boat, time starts to wear on even the best decoys, causing them to lose a lot of their paint. Besides just looking good to you, a well-painted spread might make the difference on some of those wary, late-season redlegs. With a simple decoy paint kit, you can have your old blocks looking like new in no time.

Click this link to purchase decoys from Cabela's complete selection.

Boat - If you do your waterfowling from a boat, a pre-season check over is almost mandatory. From packing trailer wheel bearings to checking lights, maintenance of your marine blind is a full job. Most of your time will probably be spent on your outboard motor, though. When the waves are kicking up on a cold December day, you want to count on the fact that your outboard will bring you back to the dock. Always take the time to put a pair a set of motor flushers on your outboard or place it in a water tank to make sure it is running good before launching your boat at 4:00 A.M. I have always found that a warm weather scouting trip is a good time to check out the boat. Then, if you have a leak, motor problems, or other bad fortunes, you have daylight to see and the warmth of the summer to limit your problems of getting back to the dock.

Shotgun - It is always a good idea to give your shotgun a good once over before the season starts. For you spring snow goose hunters that took your magazine plug out, make sure to put it back in and have your shotgun limited to three shells before heading out this fall. Take the time to put a light coat of your favorite gun lube on all the working metal parts to deter corrosion from the water that is always present in the duck blind. Double check to make sure your preferred choke tube is in. After a summer of shooting clays, you might have switched to a tighter tube than you want for ducks. Also, take one last look in your hunting vest or ammo box to make sure you are only packing non-toxic shot.
Calling practice is the only way to bring 'em in.
Calls - This is a big one. Odds are your call is in fine shape; however, the caller may need a little work. Most calling champions didn't get to that level with strictly natural ability. They got there with practice. Opening morning is not the time to see if you can still ring a high ball like you used to. You need to be practicing whenever you can make the time. Get a good instructional tape and work with it any chance you get. I find that driving in the truck is the one place that you can wail to your heart's content without disturbing the rest of the neighborhood. If that doesn't work, find a spot in the country or let it rip in the garage or shed, but keep in mind that the sound will be different in an open space. If you stay with it, you'll have ducks coming in on a string in no time.

Click this link to purchase a duck or goose call from Cabela's complete selection.

Dogs - Summer and early fall is the time to get a dog in shape. The water temperatures are perfect for working your dog in the water. For all he does for you, it is only fair to take the time to adequately train your retriever for the upcoming seasons. If your dog has become a couch potato in the off-season, start slow, with 10-minute sessions in the water. Once your dog has worked up to that try to go with 20 to 30-minute swimming sessions. This repetition will allow you to refine techniques, but it will also give your dog the energy he needs when you have a wing-tipped gander sail down outside the dekes.

Stamps and HIP Number - At last check, make sure you have your Federal Duck Stamp and any other state stamps required, along with your license and 2000 HIP number if required by your state. Visit our State by State information pages to get the regulations in your area.

Hopefully, you'll get it all together a little before I do and be ready to go when that first flight of fall appears.





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