Skip to main content

Start With Early Duck To Inspire Young Hunters

Start With Early Duck To Inspire Young Hunters
Making duck hunting a family matter not only teaches life lessons, but it creates memories that will last a lifetime for all involved. It takes experience to produce a successful hunt making scouting time beforehand invaluable. (Photo courtesy of Ross Grothe)

Morning fog lifts during duck hunt

Early duck offers awesome opportunities to get kids out and experience an exciting hunt in comfortable conditions. (T.A. Harrison)

We all started somewhere. Someone noticed the spark within and they invested. To that person we should are be grateful.

We can all trace our early days of hunting and fishing back to a single experience that turned that spark into a roaring blaze. And how that spark affected the lives we lead now.

It's a good way to live.

Family hunting traditions held a big role in what is likely the direction of your passion today. For some, it was deer camp, others upland hunting, turkey hunting and to many it was chasing the webbed-foot migrators. 

I can give reasons why each style or type of hunting offers young people a great opportunity to build and nurture a growing passion, but I truly believe waterfowl offer one of the finest venues to initiate a love for the Great Outdoors. 

It's critical to the future of our sport that we invest in the next generation and get them exposed to the countless hunting and fishing opportunities that are available to us. That responsibility is on us.

Good Timing

There is ample opportunity across the nation to take advantage early duck seasons that generally open late summer and into early and mid September. Also depending on where you live, and the population densities of local Canada geese, there might also be an urban goose season available.

It's certainly worth looking into what's available near where you call home.

early duck Early in the season the weather conditions are generally pretty comfortable and ducks plenty. Find a spot that isn't overrun with other hunters and enjoy a comfortable morning on the marsh. (Photo courtesy of Jeremy King)

Early duck offers awesome opportunities to get kids out and experience an exciting hunt in comfortable conditions.


And that's an important point to make: You want their early experiences to be good memories. The fastest way to ruin a hunt is by trying to endure tough weather conditions. Remember, they are kids and don't have the hardcore nature you've developed after years of hunting experience. Plan ahead and hunt comfortable conditions as often as possible.

Fortunately, early duck typically offers just that.

Read up on your local season dates and bag limits, and make plans based on what's available to you.

Scout More Than You Hunt

Make your plans, get your gear ready, get up well before dawn and have fun. But let's be honest about something here. We hunt and fish to be successful.

It's easy to say it's not all about killing ducks or catching fish, and there's some truth to that.

early duck Understanding early fall feeding patterns will help you create a successful hunt. Get out and check known roosting sites, ponds, fields and areas resident ducks frequent, and build your game plan from there.

However, success needs to happen, and that's up to you. Put in plenty of time locating birds and acquiring places to hunt. Public waters are not necessarily out of the question; one can find seclusion on public property, but it usually takes an inside line of information. The chance of sharing public water with other hunters is pretty high.

Personally, I prefer privacy when teaching kids the art of whacking ducks.

early duck Finding an out-of-the-way spot that attracts the ducks is a great scenario for young hunters. Private property is probably the best-case scenario for a youth hunt, but if that's not an option look into overlooked public water. Some great hunting can be had on state property. (Photo courtesy of Jeremy King)

Get permission on private property; scout often; locate a place that is holding ducks and is not overrun with other hunters and build a plan. If private property is a part of the game plan, it may be important to include your kids in securing permission — shaking a landowner's hand and earning his blessing to hunt is a good lesson learned.


This part goes back to how important success is. But this is a fun part.

Spend time on the range shooting clay targets and burning gunpowder. As a hunter, wingshooting is a skill that takes years of development, but it has to start somewhere.

early duck Shooting clays as a family is a lot of fun, and a great method to hone wingshooting skills that can be used in a lifetime of duck hunting. (Photo courtesy of Ross Grothe)

Under the guidance and direction of an experience shooter, the only way kids are going to become proficient from behind the shotgun is by spending time behind the shotgun in both practice and hunting scenarios. 

Shoot a lot. It's an investment that will pay off.

That brings me to my next point about why early duck is a great time to get out and hunt. The birds are pretty dumb since they haven't been hunted recently, and resident birds -- when located -- can be very plentiful offering young hunters ample opportunity to make good shots and kill ducks.

early duck Depending on where you live, hunting ponds, river backwaters or harvested ag fields can offer very exciting early duck hunting opportunities. Take advantage of what you have around you. (Photo courtesy of Ross Grothe)

The Hunt

The hunt begins with gear preparation from waders to decoys to camo to shells, and the kids need to be apart of that process. It adds a certain level of ownership to the experience; perhaps offer chances to talk about why hunters do what they do, and how they accomplish their goal.

waterfowlOne of the great things about duck hunting is the social nature of the hunt. The team aspect of setting up the decoys and prepping the blind can be fun, talking and telling stories in between flights of ducks, and of course the group celebration with a limit is filled.

If the situation allows, cook breakfast. This is part of what makes ducking hunting an ideal pursuit for new and young hunters.

early duck Fixing a hot breakfast from inside a duck boat only enhances the experience. Plus, who doesn't love bacon, eggs and coffee on a cool fall morning? (Photo courtesy of Jeremy King)

Listen To Them

As a father of two budding hunters I've learned my children crave conversation and knowledge about the craft.

They have questions; they want to know everything possible about the process. Give that to them. Talk to them

When they say they're done hunting the hunt needs to end. Forcing them to stay beyond the point of what they consider fun is a detrimental decision. You don't want to burn them out.

Be patient. Be the example of an ethical, passionate hunter that they may one day aspire to.

early duck There are few experiences that generate more life-long memories than those to be made with your kids while hunting and fishing. Seeing the sun come up in the morning is a special time to be shared with those you love the most — don't let those day pass by. (Photo courtesy of Ross Grothe)

As the sun rises and wings whistle above your heads with curious ducks buzzing the decoy spread, and the smell of the morning marsh filling your nostrils, remember that you are creating memories for the little people that came with you. Make each memory one they'll cherish.

Our children are the future.

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

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Sometimes you have to fish a bait that allows you to cover a lot of water efficiently. When you're on the search for bass that have moved into deeper water off the bank and away from obvious holding spots, a swimbait can locate them.

On the Search with Swimbaits

One of the best imitations of a wounded baitfish is the soft-plastic jerkbait, or fluke. A fluke darting just beneath the surface can be too much for a bass to resist. Rig it and fish it according to water conditions and cover to make this great bait even more effective.

Fun with Flukes

There are three models in SPRO's Outsider crankbait series: 55 (runs 3-4 feet), 60 (7-9) and 80 (19-21). Professional bass angler Jonathan Kelley goes over the specifics at ICAST 2022 in Orlando.

SPRO's New Outsider Crankbait Series: First Look

Professional bass angler Jonathan Kelley highlights the features of SPRO's new lures at ICAST 2022 in Orlando.

New Essential Series Spinnerbaits and Buzzbaits from SPRO

Syd Ribes with Sea Falcon highlights four new lures for saltwater fishing. At ICAST 2022 in Orlando.

New Lineup of Lures from Sea Falcon

Syd Ribes highlights two new saltwater lures from SPRO: Flutter Tail Shrimp and Cannon Ball Jig. At ICAST 2022 in Orlando.

New Saltwater Lures from SPRO

AFTCO's Matt Florentino highlights the features of the new Barricade cold-weather suit, a Best of Category winner at ICAST 2022 in Orlando. With Game & Fish's Adam Heggenstaller.

New from AFTCO: Barricade Cold Weather Tactical Gear

Three-time ICAST Best of Category winner Bubba covers it all with new knives set. With Bubba's Matt Kinamore and Game & Fish's  Adam Heggenstaller at ICAST 2022 in Orlando.

4-in-1 Bubba Multi Flex Cutlery Kit

The innovative landing net will weigh and measure your catch while it's still in the net. Best of Category winner at ICAST 2022. With Game & Fish's Adam Heggenstaller.

Award-Winning Frabill Witness Net 'Keeps You Honest'

Game & Fish Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

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

Get the top Game & Fish stories delivered right to your inbox every week.

Phone Icon

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 and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now