Hunting Ducks, Duck Behavior 101

Hunting Ducks, Duck Behavior 101
Hunting Ducks, Duck Behavior 101
Print Recipe

Permitted use provided by: MissHomemade.com
MissHomemade.com

Love hunting ducks, but want to learn a little more? If you are new to duck hunting and would like to know a bit more about duck behavior, then you have come to the right place.

We are going to learn some duck talk - so I am giving you the first quick lesson before we talk about hunting ducks. When we say "duck" it usually refers to a female and "drake" refers to the male. Easy. I will use the word duck throughout this article instead of saying drake and duck hunting. Okay?

Duck Groups

Ducks are divided into different groups which are:


  • Dabbling Ducks (Puddle Ducks)
  • Diving Ducks
  • Geese
  • Whistling Ducks
  • Swans

I am going to talk about some of the dabbling and diving ducks in this article, along with pictures for duck identification purposes. This will help you easily identify ducks when scouting or hunting.


Dabling Ducks also known as "Puddle Ducks"

  • Mallard Ducks ("green heads")
  • Green and Blue Winged Teals
  • Wood Ducks
  • Pintails (drakes are known as "sprigs")
  • Black Duck
  • Gadwall
  • Shoveler
  • American Wigeons

These ducks tip, versus swimming underwater and diving to search for food in the water. The most popular duck in this category is the mallard duck, so I will cover this popular duck first.

It's not often that I can see the color on the hen's wing... the mallard drake we all know is colorful, but the female swimming on the water just looks like she is drab brown with no coloring. But there is.

Take a peek below of the mallard drake and hen picture and see the patch of blue-purple on her wing feathers. I just wanted you to be aware of this marking when hunting ducks.

Hunting Ducks


That picture is a familiar sight to many; a drake mallard's green head and yellow bill. As a matter of fact, the mallard duck is considered the WORLD'S most abundant duck with the widest raging habitat. Easy marking to see when hunting ducks. Also known as "green heads" the mallards will dip their head under water, tip (over) and behind-end up but will rarely dive into the water. They feed on small fish, frogs, tadpoles, worms, leeches, grain, berries, nuts and plants.


They usually build their nests on the ground and she lays approximately a dozen eggs. Incubation is just under a month long.

When she leaves the nest she covers her eggs with a layer of feathers. After they hatch, the ducklings (also known as brood) will follow the mother and waddle (walk) to water right away. They also will learn to fly when they are just under two months old. The drake has long left the nest and hooked up with other drakes in a bachelor like group.

The picture below is a mallard duck nest.


Hunting Ducks


The wild duck chooses a mate and stays with him for the entire season. Domesticated ducks change mates between broods.

Mallard and wood ducks have been known to have more than one brood during the season. Double brooding reasons vary such as: the age of the duck, first brood was very early in the season, length of the breeding season or if the first brood was lost.

Wood ducks double brood more often in the southern states where the breeding season is longer and food is available, with warmer spring temperatures.

ALL ducks lose their flight feathers. The drakes lose them just after breeding, and the females after nesting. The drakes will not have bright colors when molting until they grow those feathers back. It takes approximately 6 weeks and then they are flying and bright colored again.

Ducks do fly south for the winter season, some fly as far from Canada to Central America. They migrate in groups of 100 or so and do not fly in a wedge like geese do. They can fly as much as 330 miles a day and will stop at the same "rest" or refuge areas they did the year before.

When ducks do land in a refuge area on their way south, it is called "migrator or flight day" and is usually very good when hunting ducks on public land, because the ducks born that year have not learned the difference yet between a refuge and the hunting areas.

I don't know who volunteered to find this out and relay this bit of information, but if ducks are flying over a canyon and quack - it does NOT echo...

By the way, it depends on who you talk to, but a group of flying ducks are referred to as: badelynge, bunch, brace, flock, paddling, raft or team.

Hunting Ducks


The picture above is a drake canvasback duck also known as a "can." I can't get over the red eyes. Ducks have three eyelids, in case you were wondering.

Diving Ducks

Canvasback Ducks, Redheads, Mergansers, Ruddy, Bufflehead, Eiders, Ring Necked Ducks and Lesser Scaup.

This group of ducks swim and dive underwater instead of tipping like the dabblers to search for food.

Diving ducks are found in larger and deeper lakes and rivers. The colored patches are the wings are defiantly not as brilliant as the dabbler ducks.

Many of the divers have short tails, so when they are flying they use their huge webbed feet as rudders. When in flight they do not tuck their legs up so you will see the feet on these ducks when flying. They will patter on the water before lifting into the air on take-off.

Speaking of webbed feet, ducks do not have nerves or blood vessels in their feet so they do not feel the extreme cold when swimming in icy water. And you guessed it, their feet don't bleed. This helped me when I was hunting ducks.

They feed by diving and at times VERY deep in the water. To avoid danger, diver ducks travel long distances under water and will poke their head out before diving down again to flee.

The diver ducks wings are small in comparison to their body size and weight so they flap a lot faster than the dabbler ducks.

They love fish, shellfish and aquatic plants. Canvasbacks and redheads love eel grass and wild celery.

Hunting Ducks


The picture above is a mallard duck and other mallard tracks.

So if you are looking for duck activity when hunting ducks and are scouting for ducks, this picture gives you a good idea on what to look for. I am a visual person, so this helped me tremendously.

Duck hunters usually spend a lot of money on their huge assortment of equipment for scouting, luring and shooting ducks. They hide themselves in boats, pits and hidden blinds that are place by water and near feeding areas.

Decoy spreads are then placed in and around the water’s edge to lure in the ducks to a specific "landing zone." This is a deliberate and specific open area in a duck decoy spread that approaching ducks can land in.

There are a couple different kinds of hunting boats that you can purchase when hunting ducks: the sneak boat or jon boat.

Click here for instructions on how to make your own sneak boat.

For Miss Homemade’s delicious and succulent wild duck recipes, visit http://www.misshomemade.com/duckrecipes.html. These recipes work for wild and domestic duck, if you were wondering.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

How to Catch Summertime

How to Catch Summertime's Deepwater Crappie

On windy summer days when the crappie have gone to deep-water brush piles, what tips and tricks are necessary to catch a limit of slabs? In this episode of Outdoors with Ole Pops, Jeff Williams shows you how to combine the right boat, trolling motor, and electronics package to catch fish on water bodies like Oklahoma's Grand Lake. Simply pull up on a brush pile, turn the electronics on, lower your minnow and Fle-Fly light wire circle hook into the school below, watch the strike on a Garmin Panoptix LiveScope unit, and start reeling in!

To learn more and to purchase Fle-Fly tackle, click here to visit their website.

Penn Battle III Spinning Reel

Penn Battle III Spinning Reel

Jeff Weakly talks with Mike Rice, Product Manager at PENN Reels about the relaunch of the Penn Battle III Spinning reel.

Yo-Zuri Mag Popper & 3D Inshore TopKnock Pencil

Yo-Zuri Mag Popper & 3D Inshore TopKnock Pencil

Yo-Zuri pro Carter Andrews discusses new saltwater fishing lures with Florida Sportsman's Jeff Weakley as part of our 2020 ICAST New Fishing Gear Guide.

What

What's New with Abu Garcia Veritas Rods?

There are big changes to Abu Garcia's popular Veritas series of rods. Andrew Wheeler highlights the new features with In-Fisherman's Doug Stange as part of our 2020 ICAST New Fishing Gear Guide.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The National Shooting Sports Foundation provides places to start. Hunting How-To

Are You a New Hunter Looking for Help?

Adam Heggenstaller - August 19, 2020

The National Shooting Sports Foundation provides places to start.

On windy summer days when the crappie have gone to deep-water brush piles, what tips and tricks are necessary to catch a limit of slabs? Fishing How-To

How to Catch Summertime's Deepwater Crappie

Game & Fish Staff

On windy summer days when the crappie have gone to deep-water brush piles, what tips and...

The best jig fisherman are those that are always aware of what their jig is doing. Bass

4 Tips When Jig Fishing For Bass

Chris Schneider - August 25, 2015

The best jig fisherman are those that are always aware of what their jig is doing.

Anglers can find catfish in practically any freshwater system in the South, but some waters really stand out for monsters. Catfish

The South's Best Waters for Trophy Catfish

John N. Felsher - August 21, 2020

Anglers can find catfish in practically any freshwater system in the South, but some waters...

See More Trending Articles

More Wild Game

Looking for fresh recipe ideas for wild turkey? Here's a list of our top 10 most popular turkey recipes. Wild Game

Top 10 Most Popular Wild Turkey Recipes

Game & Fish Online Staff

Looking for fresh recipe ideas for wild turkey? Here's a list of our top 10 most popular...

Bacon in this recipe helps to keep the wild turkey moist during grilling and pairs well with the sweet pineapple and fresh basil. Wild Game

Wild Turkey, Bacon and Pineapple Skewers Recipe

Tiffany Haugen

Bacon in this recipe helps to keep the wild turkey moist during grilling and pairs well with...

The Memorial Day holiday weekend is an annual chance for families to kick off the summer season while enjoying some good eating, all while remembering those who have sacrificed so much to make possible our freedom; consider adding a twist to the holiday menu by preparing a World War II canteen-inspired sandwich featuring an American Heartland upland bird. Wild Game

Upland Bird Sandwich Recipe Celebrates Pheasants and Troops

Lynn Burkhead

The Memorial Day holiday weekend is an annual chance for families to kick off the summer...

There are a few guidelines you should follow when grilling lean game meats such as elk, deer, antelope, and turkey. The Grill

Tips for Grilling Wild Game

Tiffany Haugen

There are a few guidelines you should follow when grilling lean game meats such as elk, deer,...

See More Wild Game

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now