Sounds easy right?
Yet I find myself and other making these more often than they should.
Below is a summary of the top 5 mistakes I try to avoid each year and you should also:
Not making a change quick enough
The ability to recognize something is not right with the decoys, calling, concealment etc. is something that separates the good from the bad. But if you want to be great, you must not only recognize the issue but take the next step and make the change! All too often there is a bunch of excuses, eggs are ready to eat, it is to mucky, there is a group of birds working even though the last 5 flocks did not finish, and the list goes on. Trust me, make the change!
Making your setup look like hunters instead of ducks
I see it all the time when driving back to the launch, first I spot the spinner or two, then the decoys in a U shape or two blobs, and in the middle a boat blind that sticks out like a sore thumb. It screams to the ducks, danger!
Now go drive by a refuge. In many areas geese outnumber ducks, the water is full of ripples no matter how dead calm it is, and the birds on the water are moving. So what should you do? Maybe start thinking how can I look like them and not like a duck hunter.
Not Hiding Well Enough
If the birds are not finishing, the first place one should start to analyze is there hide. Ask yourself if the birds are seeing you?
On multiple occasions I have found myself setup with a west wind at our back or over one shoulder and fail to consider that the sun is rising from the east. The sun then lights up our blind like a Christmas tree in the dark once it rises. With a quick change you can use that same sun to your advantage and change your setup to be in the shadow of a tree/bush/brush or with a crossing shot where the sun is limiting the ducks vision vs. enhancing it.
Poorly Set Decoys
Not leaving the ducks enough space to land is another critical mistake. If you load the hole up with decoys and leave no place for them to sit down, more often than not they won’t and you will go home with less meat on the duck strap than you should. I like to run a big spread at certain times of the year and it becomes critical that you leave an area that is well within shooting range for the birds to land. It is all too easy to load up the hole with decoys when setting up the dark.
Calling to loud or not loud enough is a common problem. If you are in a big open area a loud call might be the best choice but if there is no wind you might spook incoming birds if you do not tone it down. On the flip side if you do not call loud enough on those windy days they might not hear you. I recommend having two calls on a lanyard, a loud call and a quieter call. This makes it very easy just to change duck calls based on conditions.
Good luck this year and be safe!