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Recovering Wood Ducks in Cattails with Timber.

Discussion in 'The Duck Hunters Forum' started by cprodave, Dec 28, 2019.

  1. Rick Hall

    Rick Hall Elite Refuge Member

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    Klondike, Louisiana
    No telling how many ducks my hunters or I "stoned" then led my dogs on long tracks or lost them entirely in deep water, but breaking an upper wing bone will often leave a bird that falls from the air like a rock with its running and swimming gear intact and highly motivated.

    "Best practice" for a dogless hunter is as you've described for doves, and will still result in the occasional lost bird under all but park-like conditions. Just part of it - at least if you're shooting very many. But Fowler is right: nothing in nature goes to waste. (Unless, of course, man finds a way to turn it to Styrofoam.) And something out there needs that bird a lot worse than you do.
     
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  2. cprodave

    cprodave Senior Refuge Member

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    Eastern NC
    Thanks All for the input. It seems consensus is to: 1) get a dog and 2)even with a dog get used to losing birds now and then. For 10 years up until about 5 years ago I had an English Cocker that was a decent dove finder. He had a hard mouth and had a habit of dropping birds halfway back on the retrieve, but was valuable at finding doves that fell into dense cover. I did almost no waterfowl hunting during those years. I loved that dog and would get another but my wife and I plan to travel a lot during next few years and logistics/cost of kenneling a dog while we are away are prohibitive. I know ducks are tough and getting them out of the air is only half of bagging them. EX: Last week I layout boat hunted for scoters--shot 5 out of the air with #4 steel, recovered 3 (if head is not down I usually shoot them again on the water with #6 steel--it works pretty good). Most of my hunting is open water sounds and saltwater marsh with mixed spartina/other vegetation, i.e. not dense cover. So this recovering in dense cover is still a learning curve for me.

    I'm guessing this swamp is 20-30 acres. With a climbing treestand and binoculars at the edge I will probably identify the most open areas, i.e. least dense cattails etc. Then pick my location and (just as importantly) take shots cver selectively where downed birds are likely to fall into this least dense area. Also, I need to avoid getting disoriented while looking for downed birds--so many of the trees look identical when viewed from sitting amongst the cattails in my float tube--I might mark a couple trees somewhat inconspicuously to other hunters. Marking downed birds relative to these marked/reference trees could be key to recovery. Also, I might even leave an inexpensive chain-on treestand out in the area where I plan for birds to fall--if I get a bit of elevation (even just 5-6 feet) then I should be able to see down into the cattails/brush better. I wouldn't necessarily shoot from this position, maybe just water/finishing swats. Unfortunately this is public land so I can't clear/"nuke" a lot of vegetation--not sure I would want to, there is already much edible SAV, acorns, etc.

    Creedsduckman I hope if you hunt doves or similar you give the handkerchief method a try--it really works!

    Thanks again All.
     
  3. Juan De

    Juan De Senior Refuge Member

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    I’d slip out there with a weed eater with the saw blade attachment to open up the hole. Have done it before on public land. Killed birds there afterwards 2
     
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  4. MarshmanDon

    MarshmanDon Senior Refuge Member

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    Have also done that with weed eater . Rubber gloves keeps your hands from getting cut .You can break it off later in the season more you walk around the more open your spot will be. Also keep a small folding saw in your gunning bag . Always comes in handy.Most hardware stores carry them they are very sharp . Also a bow saw doesn't hurt to keep in the boat Good Luck!
     
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  5. coyote hounder

    coyote hounder Senior Refuge Member

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    Wisconsin
    When looking for downed birds in heavy cover always go a little further than the spot you thought it landed. This has led to better recovery rate for me.
     
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  6. creedsduckman

    creedsduckman Elite Refuge Member

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    I dove hunt every chance I get. Probably my second favorite thing to shoot after ducks. I'll definitely try to remember that trick next time i go.
     
  7. seiowa

    seiowa Elite Refuge Member

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    Any pot licking mutt of a dog will find birds. Hell, get the old lady a house pet and that SOB would be invaluable for recovery. Maybe not water retrieves or long marks but any couch hound is gonna sniff out more birds than you will.
     
  8. black brant

    black brant Senior Refuge Member

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    Morro Bay, Ca.
    Wood ducks are tough to find when they are crippled
    If they get to dry ground they go like rabbits and bury into cover or go into holes
    Dogs really help but I still lose some.
     
  9. Killducks.com

    Killducks.com Refuge Member

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    Location:
    West KY
    Well speaking from 29 years of practice you have been very lucky not to have lost. I do not have a dog however your best chance to recover is with one. I have lost many over the years and with effort, recovered lots of them. A dog is not 100% but chances are definitely better. Don’t sweat it! As one stated above, the bird will not go to waste. Something will have meal provided. It sucks yes but at least you made an effort. This happens to EVERYONE.
     
  10. creedsduckman

    creedsduckman Elite Refuge Member

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    While it still sucks this is very true. I had to convince myself of it this year when I lost a deer I should not have. Found it 5 days later when I saw buzzards. I thought I missed and made a half hearted attempt to find it after I saw no blood or hair. I should've looked harder. The upside was I learned alot from it.
     

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