Below are some tips from how to dress to choosing a location that will make your late season hunting safer, more enjoyable, and more effective!
Dress for the conditions in layers
The quickest way to get cold is to break a sweat and then sit still. Managing you layers so you do not break a sweat is key. Going out to the blind I try to be slightly under dressed with the rest of my clothing packed to be put on once hunting begins. I warm up by setting the decoys, and once complete and I have settled into my blind, then I put on the rest of my layers. This strategy miinimizes my chances of breaking a sweat which is often the cause of getting cold.
Don’t get ice on the decoys
If hunting water set the decoys without getting the top side wet. If you just toss the decoys out and the entire decoy gets wet the top will form a shiny glaze of ice. This shine will flare the ducks.
Keep that ice hole open
Choose your location wisely when breaking a hole in the ice to set decoys. If it is really cold out and you break a hole in the ice and there is no current, very often the hole will just re-freeze. This makes for an ice hole that requires maintenance all day to stay open. If you have multiple locations to choose from it pays off to hunt an area that is ice free or you just have to remove shore ice.
Look for moving water
If it is really cold and the birds seemed to have just dissapeared overnight it is time to hit moving water. Check all the local rivers and small streams. Trust me, there will be huntable numbers on moving water.
Hunt later in the day
When the temps begin to drop the afternoon flight starts to pick up. Often times you can sleep in and start your hunt at 10am and hunt till sunset. When it gets bitter cold, the flight is often the last hour, especially if you are hunting Canada geese.
Do not hunt alone
Never hunt alone out of a boat in the late season! It is simply not worth it. If it is cold and you go in, your life jacket will give you a shot at living or it could just provide your loved ones a body to bury. It is just not worth it. Always hunt with a buddy and carry your cell phone in a ziplock bag. If possible run two boats for added safety. You can never be safe enough.
Late season boating advice
Read this forum thread for more late season boating advice. It is packed with other duck hunters tips and close calls that will make you think safety first. An excellet read each year when the weather starts to get cold. Big Water Boating Advice
Hide like a ninja
Leverage as much natural cover as you can find and take a few extra minutes to brush your blind. Late season birds have seen it all and if they are not finishing its likely your hide.
Making you a better caller!