WI – Sharpen your waterfowl shot.

East Troy, Wis. – As the pre-season gets closer, most waterfowlers will head down to their favorite shooting range to bust a box or two worth of clay pigeons.

Trap, skeet, and sporting clays provides us a challenge in a control environment.  They attract hunters by 10s of thousands year after year.  With clay pigeons being the target these sports, we as waterfowlers seek it to better our shot and become more familiar with the pattern of our favorite load.   Thus, making our skill level higher and wounded bird count lower.

Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has brought a pilot program to their hunters this year.  Their “Wingshooting for Migratory Birds” program is intended to help with over-all shooting, shotgun patterning,  technique of leading, distance estimation, selection of loads and chokes as well as the awareness  and effectiveness of shooting ranges.

This program is a great idea, especially for those just getting into shooting and/or waterfowl hunting.  I wouldn’t be surprised if other State DNR began to follow suit.

Out with the old, in with the new site.

The Fowl Life LOGOChad Belding, waterfowl specialist from Banded Nation and the Fowl Life has rolled out a whole new website.

As the Banded empire continues to grow, a new-modern and user friendly website becomes live.  The new www.BandedNation.com  becomes the home of The Fowl Life.  The website also brings all of their co-brands into one place.  Such as Dead Dog Walkin, Banded Fushion, Banded Hunts and much more.

The website offers fans live twitter feeds, news & updates, on-the-road blogs and many clickable links.  The Banded Nation is now also offering you a way to become part of the Banded Nation for as low as $25.  Not to forget they are holding a contest for a lucky winner to hunt with Chad by purchasing a package of Lucky Brand Jerkey for as little at $5.

Banded Capture

They are also showing off their new Banded Gear, from hats 7 shirts to can koozies.   Head over and check it out for yourself, www.BandedNation.com.

Oregon Waterfowl Festival

“….Committed to the fulfillment of youth related waterfowling activities…”, the Oregon Waterfowl Organization has been contributing to conservation efforts for over 12 years.  Donating nearly $20,000.00 to Ducks Unlimited, the Lower Columbia River Esturary Initiative, Sauvie Island, Summer Lake public lands and coastal estuary wetland restorations projects have all been able to benefit.

Their annual festival, held during the weekend of June 29-30, brings waterfowlers together with Hevi-Shot’s BBQ dinner, duck & goose calling contests, boat blind contests, dog events, decoy carving contests, seminars turkey calling contests and raffles & auctions.

Find out more about the Oregon Waterfowl Festival Association by clicking here.

Gloves or Handwarmer

gloves-or-hwPre and post-season sales at your local sporting goods store and online offer some of the best prices and deals.  Every year I start to look for some items I just can’t live without, usually a new pair of gloves.   I have tried many different brands from the in-house brands of sporting goods stores to the rather expensive waterfowl-purpose gloves.  At the end of every season, I just can’t see myself using them again, they’re just not comfortable or there’s something I just don’t like about them.

Now don’t get me wrong, a pair of waterproof neoprene elbow length gloves is great to keep in your bag, but after recently purchasing an Avery handwarmer, I may never again buy a pair of gloves.  I purchased an Avery Outdoors Ducks Unlimited neoprene handwarmer .  This thing clips to your waders, has two Velcro pockets (elastic choke tube holders inside the right pocket), a zipper pocket on the back side with a smaller pocket inside (great for an iPhone), extra shell holders outside, belt just in case and is lined with a fleece lining.  Don’t want to forget about the waterproof seams also.

I would use two HotHand hand warmers for the inside and also have my wader pockets and jacket pockets (when my jacket is tucked into my waders) to help keep my hands warm.  Once I started using this new setup, I quit spending money on waterfowl gloves and more on other gear, like shells and beanies!

So we want to hear from you.  What is your preference, gloves or handwarmer?

New Shadow Grass Blades, The Latest Evolution in Waterfowl Patterns

The folks at Mossy Oak introduced their first waterfowl camo pattern back in 1986.  The pattern was Bottomland and it was designed to hide hunters in the flooded timber shadows by incorporating the dark and light patterns and colors of bark and soil.

Bottomland worked great in its intended environment, but it didn’t help hunters hide as well in the grass and cattails of pond edges and fields.  Mossy Oak’s design team recognized the need for a pattern that would work in these conditions and, in 1995, added blades of grass as an overlay to the Bottomland pattern to make a new pattern called Shadow Grass.  Now, there was a pattern that would work in almost any waterfowl hunting environment in North America.

Over the years, the Mossy Oak team has continued to enhance and improve their waterfowl patterns.  As digital imaging techniques improve, designers were able to add more detail and shadow to their patterns, giving them an almost 3D effect that broke up the human outline when viewed from any direction.

The evolution continued with improvements to Shadow Grass in both color and detail until the year 2007 when a new pattern named Duckblind was launched.  Duckblind was built on a base background of true dirt colors with different tones to represent wet and dry ground. Then, elements of millet, wild oats, corn stalks, phragmites, Johnson grass, soybeans and native grasses were added. The unique shadows enhance depth, while the muted shades of brown, tan, gray and soft black work well for blending into virtually any waterfowl environment across the country.

All of this leads to today and the introduction of the new Shadow Grass Blades pattern.  I asked Larry Moore, the Director of Research and Development for Mossy Oak Camo about the new pattern and what went into its design.  He replied, “The development of Blades took two years of research and element collection across the entire waterfowl flyway systems.  We carefully selected grass that was true to color and detail to represent any water edge or open field.  Because of the success and long run of original Shadow Grass we arranged the grass blades in a similar fashion and used a natural straw like background to utilize a naturally dirty look of mashed down or repeatedly flooded grass.  This created the look found in original Shadow Grass and allows the flooded timber hunter to use it as well as the field hunter.”

When I asked how they went about designing a pattern that works everywhere, Moore explained that the new Blades pattern has grass types found from Minnesota to Louisiana or California to New England.  These grasses were then carefully blended into a natural reproduction of some of the photos taken on location to match a wide array of settings. The precise arrangement of individual blades of grass, whether windblown, broken or bent, onto a background of thatch consisting of lesser or dead grass creates the perfect pure grass pattern. In addition, carefully placed shadows were added to create depth and further break up the human pattern. “Blades will work anywhere you have grass and dirt and I think that is everywhere”, Moore said.

After viewing the new pattern, I think it will blend perfectly into the pond edges and fields just about anywhere ducks and geese are hunted.  My biggest problem with darker waterfowl patterns is their tendency to blob out from a distance.  When viewed by a high flying duck or goose, that dark blob fairly screams “hunter”.  The overall light tone of the grasses blended with just enough shadow in the new Blades pattern should avoid that problem and help waterfowlers blend into just about any cover.

How to Start Duck Hunting

Submitted by: Caleb Wilds

WARNING! Duck hunting can be highly addictive and may change the way you spend your time, money and energy!

If you want to learn the art of duck hunting there are a few basics you need to get started.  I’m not going to lie, it is possible to go to your local sporting goods store and buy a dozen duck decoys and go to your honey hole and have a good hunt. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. But what I am going to recommend is going to help you have more enjoyable, successful hunts.

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When someone asks me about duck hunting the first thing I say is once you start it is hard to stop. The second is I am serious. I have converted a lot of deer hunters into duck hunters. The third thing I tell them is before you go out and spend a lot of money on decoys, waders and other hunting accessories go on a couple hunts first and see if you really do like it. Even though I love it! It is not cut out for everyone.

Ask a buddy- Having a friend who knows what they are doing is a big asset to have when you first start out. Even if you don’t have waders, decoys or even a spot to go to they more than likely will. So you won’t have to worry about wading in the water to retrieve ducks and decoys or where to go. They might even have a pair of waders you can borrow. The other bright side is it gives you an opportunity to ask questions and learn about the do’s and don’ts. I can’t emphasize enough on asking questions. Because the more you know the better chance you will have of having a successful hunt when you go out on your own. A friend can also help you identify breeds of duck you are shooting and help make sure you are hunting within the regulations.

If you don’t have a friend to show you the ropes the second thing I recommend is go on a guided hunt or two. They are professionals and more than likely the reason they are guiding hunts is they know what they are doing and usually have a high success rate. Another good thing about being guided is the only thing you need to bring is you and your gun and it will give you a taste of the sport. Again ask a lot of questions. Learn as much as you can and they will usually have good pointers for beginners.

Places to Hunt- If you don’t have anywhere to go hunting go online and look for public hunting lands. You can usually find lakes that allow hunting to the public. But if you want a little less competition spend a little time and gas and drive around looking for waterfowl and once you found them ask the property owner for permission. You might get told no a few times. But you will never find a place unless you ask. Offer your services to help around the property doing work in exchange for permission to hunt will also help you get your foot in the door.

Decoys- A dozen decoys to start out should do. I will recommend getting mallard decoys as they are the most persistent breed of ducks in North America and most other breeds will land with mallards. Don’t forget a decoy bag. In a perfect world I always recommend setting up with the wind at your back and set the decoys in a U or hook with the biggest group closest to you. I know it is not always possible so you can set up with the wind coming from your side and never set up with the wind blowing in your face.

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Remember do your homework and scout ahead. You can have all the decoys in the world and the ducks still won’t come if you are not where they want to be. The only point of decoys is to get them to land where you want.

Concealment- You will never shoot any ducks if you stick out like a sore thumb. Use natural grasses and vegetation when you are building  a duck blind. Ducks have very good eye sight and can see color better than we do and depend on that to keep them safe. Also having a roof or some sort of cover over your head  will help hide you more and come  in handy later in season when the birds become more weary and fly around a couple of times before committing.

Shotguns and Shells- There are an assortment of shotguns and ammo to choose from and you really can’t go wrong with any. You don’t have the best of the best shotguns that are semi automatic and chamber three and half inch shells. A 12 gauge pump that chambers three inch shell will do just fine. In fact many hunters use a pump and brag about their dependability. It’s also important to pattern test your gun to see what shell and choke combination gives you the best result. If you have to choose one choke I recommend a modified for most beginners and many waterfowl hunters prefer them. Try and refrain from sky busting. Even if you are having a bad day, all that results in is wasted shells and injured birds that you will not retrieve. Remember no lead!

Waders- Wader’s one of the most important things to have when duck hunting. A pair of hip waders will get you around. But a good pair of chest waders will get you all most anywhere. Waders aren’t a thing to go cheap on either. Go ahead and spend the money and buy a good pair with at least 800 grams of insulation. The more insulation the better! If you don’t you will get cold and miserable and give up before you even get started.

wilds_studio5Calls- Buy a double reed and instructional CD. You will be able to learn while you drive around. Even if you are only able to give a quack it will help make your spread look more realistic. The number one mistake most novice callers make is they call too much and you are better off leaving it at home until you become a decent caller and understand how it should be used.

Conservation- Once you get hooked I recommend that you get involved in waterfowl conservation. They do a lot great things for the sport and make sure that great duck hunting will be here for years to come.

Hot New Gear

1.  Hard Core Decoy’s Elite Blind Bag

Elite Blind Bad by Hard Core Decoy

Elite Blind Bag by Hard Core Decoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A new product for the 2013/2014 season, the Elite Blind Bag is a large sized bag for the long-staying waterfowler.  Check out some of the really cool features:

  • High-impact, waterproof bottom
  • Full featured, spacious design
  • Padded foam sides
  • External thermos or beverage pocket on the side
  • External accessory pocket with five loop choke tube holder
  • Zippered water-proof pocket
  • External clothes strap, great for rain jacket/poncho
  • External tool Velcro pocket, great for the Hardcore Loppers
  • Non-slip shoulder strap
  • Easy grip handle
  • Easy opening/closing zippers

Take a look by clicking HERE!

 

2.  Toxic Calls New Avicide Series

Avicide Duck Call by Toxic

Avicide Duck Call by Toxic Calls.

 “The design isn’t the only “sick” thing about Toxic Calls” -Phil

The Avicide series by Toxic Calls. When flare and flash is not a term in your vocabulary. The AVICIDE series by Toxic is what your looking for. The guys over at Toxic have taken their Meat and Potatoes calls the NBD, NBD2 and the TBH. They produced them in a Black with White letters or White with Black letters and put a killer price on them. These calls are the exact same calls as their super popular custom calls, they just removed the flare. With a sounds that have been turning birds to their death, these calls have been labeled “AVICIDE”.

Buy yours now at Wing Supply – only retailer to have this call!

 

3.  Dakota Decoy’s X-Treme Mallards

Flock Headed Mallards by Dakota Decoys

Flock Headed Mallards by Dakota Decoys.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dakota Decoys throws a game-changing mix into your spread!

  • Most life like, hand painted finish
  • Drakes go through a 24 step painting process, and the hens go through a 16 step painting process
  • 6 different head styles in each dozen
  • Multiple heads come attached , and will spin a full 360 degrees
  •  Slightly over-sized, measuring 16” in length
  •  They have a weighted keel designed with the hunter in mind
  • Added cleat to the front of each keel to lengthen or shorten lines to the desired depth
  • Packaged in dozen packs with 7 drakes with 4 unique head styles, and hens with 2 head styles

 

4.  Heavy Hauler’s Raft O Ducks

Raft O Ducks by Heavy Hauler Outdoor Gear

Raft O Ducks by Heavy Hauler Outdoor Gear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whether hunting divers,  puddlers, or honkers always be on the X with The Raft O’ Ducks decoy anchor system.  Watch it by clicking HERE!

  • Set it in many different formations.
  • Easy to get ready as well as taking it down 
  • 2 built in 1.5 lb H-shaped anchor/line keepers
  • 18-30″ drop lines with 4” snaps and large swivel clips
  • Drop lines are made of tangle resistant 400 lb mono filament 
  • 150 feet of heavy braided mainline rope

Ducks Interrupt Pursuit

Portland, OR – On duty Police Traffic Officer Mark James got more than what he typically expects on a pursuit.

James’ dash-cam video released by the the Portland Police Bureau, started out with what looked like to be a routine stop.  However, it was anything but routine.  With the up-beat music starting, James starts his pursuit of a car going 52 MPH in a 35 MPH zone.  The car quickly leaves the screen not to be seen again.  Still in his pursuit, James notices a hen and her ducklings walking the lane divider.  Without questioning himself he stops his pursuit and guides the ducks to a safe ditch.

This isn’t the fist entertaining video release by the Portland Police Bureau.  Shortly after the “Harlem Shake” craze, they posted this YouTube hit as a PSA (Public Service Announcement).

Off Season Decoy Maintenance

Everyone has a pile of decoys that need a little TLC.

Everyone has a pile of decoys that need a little TLC.

Another season has drawn to a close. By the bitter end, your equipment was looking as ragged as you felt. Now that turkey season is over, hunters have a little time to do some maintenance before the cycle starts all over in the fall. One item that always seems to need a little TLC in the off season is your decoy spread.

CLEANING: Be it caked on mud or dried pond vegetation, decoys can look pretty ragged at the end of a long season. Clean water and a good scrub brush should take off most of the grime. Be careful using soap, some have brighteners that can leave an unnatural sheen on the decoy. Diluted dish washing liquid is OK, but nothing stronger. If you have a large number or particularly dirty dekes, a power washer with a fan tip can come in handy. Be careful to only use the widest tip available and don’t get too close or you will strip the paint from your decoy.

Take advantage of free labor.  Pot-roast scrubbing a season's worth of grime from a decoy.

Take advantage of free labor. Pot-roast scrubbing a season’s worth of grime from a decoy.

CRACK AND HOLE REPAIR: Now that you have the decoys clean and shiny, go through and check each for cracks or pellet holes. Pay attention to the areas along the keel and at the seams to make sure there are no hidden cracks. A great way to check your decoy is to give it a good shake and listen for any water inside to slosh around. Grab the decoy and press down on the back with both of your thumbs to see if you can force air out. If there is water inside, locate the hole or crack and drill it out with a 1/8 inch drill bit. Next drill another hole at the base of the tail of the decoy and hang it, tail down, until it is completely drained. Use epoxy to seal any cracks. For filling the drilled holes, I prefer a hot glue gun. Don’t skimp and use the cheap sticks, they won’t last and you will be back where you started. High quality sticks can be found at most craft stores.

RIGGING: Now that the decoys are cleaned and repaired, go through and check the rigging. If you rig Texas style, check and tighten any loose crimps. J Hook weights and rubber bungee cord rigs should be checked for dry rot and cracking in the rubber cord. For traditional nylon line set ups, check your knot areas for frayed spots. Summer is a great time to get a mold and melt some lead into extra decoy weights.

PAINTING: If the paint on your decoys is faded or peeling, a paint job is just the ticket for making tired decoys look new again. Before you start, use a wire brush and light sandpaper to remove any loose paint chips. Next, use a plastic cleaner (3M makes a good one designed for automotive use) to clean and degrease the decoy. Krylon has recently introduced a new spray paint line called Fusion designed for plastics. It makes a great base coat. Details can be filled in with any outdoor flat acrylic paint in your desired color.

FLOCKING: A step up from painting is flocking. Flocking a decoy coats either the entire body or sometimes just the head with a colored powder that softens the look and reduces glare. It makes the decoy appear much more natural. Many companies produce flocking kits these days. The process is simple. Clean the decoy, apply the adhesive with a brush then apply the powder onto the wet adhesive. An empty restaurant condiment squeeze bottle works well for squirting the dry flocking powder onto the decoy.

BAG REPAIR: While you are working on your decoys, don’t forget to take a look at the bags you carry them in. Repair or replace any broken straps or buckles. Sew or patch any torn spots to prevent them from getting larger. Check for broken draw strings and replace any that need it.

Delta Waterfowl Launches Advocacy Service

voiceheard

Make your point — to the people who need to hear it.

With the launch of a new online advocacy service, Delta Waterfowl members now have easy access to the decision-makers who affect the future of waterfowl and waterfowl hunting.

The new online service, called “Make Your Voice Count,” allows members and other interested hunters to better understand the issues that affect them. Users can receive action alerts, comment on legislation and evaluate administrative actions. With a few clicks of a mouse, service users can send a letter to the appropriate policymakers to let them where they stand on an issue. The service is free.

For the full article, please click HERE.