When it comes to hunting waterfowl, the fouler the weather the better the hunt is deemed to be. Avid duck hunters know when its clear skies and sunny that they should probably go fishing instead . Briefly, I will describe each kind of weather system and how it affects waterfowl hunting.
Thunder Storms & Rain
A low-pressure system usually means that rain is on its way. For most people that is bad news, but for duck hunters, it’s great news. Storm fronts increase wind and cloud cover which helps prevent glare off of gun barrels and the hunter’s face. Ducks are also less likely to see shadows of hunters from up above. Rain, sleet, and wind will move ducks to protected smaller areas where they concentrate in number.
Tip: Proactive hunters can stay one step ahead by setting up in locations that provide shelter from storms.
Fair, Semi-Cloudy Days
Clear, warm, and windless days make duck hunting tough. Direct sunlight can unveil even the most camouflaged hunter. Keep in mind high flying ducks can look down on hunters. During these hunts, it’s crucial to take advantage of naturally shaded areas. Just because the weather has not changed does not mean you should do the same. A good rule of thumb for waterfowl hunters is to change up their decoy spread and blind location on a regular basis.
Tip: When the sky is blue paint your face black.
Freezing Cold Weather
Freezing temperatures, blistering winter winds, and cloudy skies can be a duck hunter’s best friend! When shallow waters freeze over, ducks concentrate on open bodies of water. Freezing conditions force ducks to take in twice the calories. When feeding twice a day, you’ll see afternoon feeding flights, as well as pre-dawn movements. Even though freezing temperatures make for great hunting conditions, they can present a difficult challenge in transporting your equipment to and from the blind. Be mindful that a human fatality while duck hunting is often the result of poor weather conditions.
Tip: Never hunt alone.
Snow Storms & Fog
With limited visibility, ducks are more prone to flying low to the ground or more adapt to listening for clues as to where other groups of ducks might be. Avid hunters say that these conditions make duck hunting exciting since you hear the ducks answer the calls they cannot see from the ground above. The cold won’t drive ducks from a field where food is plentiful. However, when snow becomes inches deep, they are forced to move (often south) where that isn’t the case. Focusing your efforts in areas of plentiful and accessible duck nutrition is the best bet during these weather conditions.
Tip: Analyzing migration reports from years past can help you establish accurate patterns.
Why Should You Hunt on the Gulf Coast?
Generally speaking, the Gulf Coast is most closely associated with fishing & beach-based activities, not hunting. However, all the diver ducks that are born around the Great Lakes migrate south in an attempt to stay ahead of the snow and freezing waterers. Just like people on a road trip, ducks are always on the lookout for a safe place to rest and eat. The intracoastal waterways and bays provide plenty of shallow warm water for the ducks to eat and rest. Clouds tend to hang around the Gulf Coast during the winter months, and the low canopy of coastal scrub bushes provide for plenty of shady hiding spots. With water never freezing and a lot of land being accessible from public waterways, this makes for great spots available to all. Despite all these favorable conditions, outside of a few big weekends, hunting pressure is simply not an issue.
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January is when we see the most activity by far. The redheads and bluebills are especially active in large numbers this time of year along the Gulf Coast. For more information on Coastal Duck Hunting opportunities along the Gulf Coast, please contact Intercoastal Safaris.