Why You Should Hunt Wood Ducks

Why You Should Hunt Wood Ducks
Drake woodies taste good, look nice on the cabin wall and are fun to hunt. (Steve Hickoff photo)

First off, they hang out in beautiful places.

Legal time arrives. Suddenly as the sky barely brightens, two vocal dark forms buzz in as if scripted, successively splashing into plain view. A drake, as colorful as the hen woody is not, composes head and chest feathers in one quick motion as the female looks on, seemingly baffled by the fakes, but not yet spooked. You stand, alerting them, take aim at the rising bright form the drake makes as it wings off, and drop the bird: one quick shot.

Why should you also hunt woodies?

Suppertime: The woodie might be the best tasting duck, even over mallards.

Fly-Tying Materials: Wood duck flank feathers are prized by fly tiers. The rest are also useful.

Cabin Mount: Few waterfowl species brighten your taxidermy wall collection as a drake woodie.

How do you target them? Look for their preferred food. Find acorns along a river or other waterway; the wood ducks might follow. Up north, they begin to move south as November arrives. As seasons provide, southern hunters will find them later, longer. Take advantage of this opportunity.

Listen for them. I’ve found woodies in feeding locations simply by listening for their distinctive chattering, clucking and squeaking; also as they wing in with their hooting, peeping and whistling flight calls. They’re noisy.

Woodies like woodies. Decoying choices are simple. I’m not sure if they’re indifferent to other species, but woodies usually stay with woodies, and don’t tend to mix with other puddle ducks the way mallards might.

Nap time. They rest nearby during the day, after feeding, prime for jumpshooting – the waterfowler’s upland wingshooting equivalent. Look for deadfall along riverbanks where they loaf.

Ride your rig: I’ve found wood ducks in backwater swamps surrounded by oaks, winding rivers and distant beaver ponds. Your ATV or SxS will also aid in lugging decoys to and from that location.

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