When they first get into duck hunting, a lot of new hunters make the mistake of thinking that ducks aren’t very smart. After all, they have tiny brains and they’re just not the most evolved species in the world, right? Well, veteran duck hunters know that ducks are actually a lot smarter and wilier than you might think. Something as simple as having too little movement in your decoy spread or going with cheap duck hunting gear that stands out too much from your surroundings can tip ducks off and keep them from flying into your shooting range.
All that said, some ducks really are just more challenging to hunt than others. So which ducks should you be going after as a beginner and which ones are going to give you more of a challenge to overcome as you get more experience with duck hunting?
Buffleheads (AKA Buffies)
When you ask duck hunters about the most difficult or frustrating ducks to shoot, you’ll get mixed reviews about buffleheads. They’re not the brightest ducks, and some hunters have a really easy time with them because they’re easier to lure in than some other species.
The problem with buffleheads, though, is that they’re small, fast, and really agile. Missing an “easy” shot on one of these birds is really common, and really frustrating.
Greenwings and Bluewings
While they’re a bit larger than buffies, bluewings and greenwings can both present some serious frustrations to duck hunters. They’re really fast and very agile, and they’re known for buzzing right over your blind from behind and then turning and twisting in different directions, giving you basically no shot at all.
Then there are ringbills, which are possibly the most frustrating ducks to hunt out there. They’re smaller, like buffies, and they’re fast and twisty like bluewings and greenwings. If you spend enough time duck hunting, you’ll see these birds dive in and out of your spreads so fast you almost question whether they were ever there in the first place or if they might actually be rocket-powered.
Getting Better at Hunting Any Kind of Duck
Whatever kind of ducks you’re hunting, you can get better at making the shot by practicing shooting clays at an outdoor range during the off-season. This will improve your trigger speed and will help you see your sights faster so that you can make every shot count. You can also practice leading the duck the right way. For example, if a duck is flying toward you or across your shooting range, aim just in front of its beak. If it’s landing, aim just below and in front of its legs. Don’t lead the duck too much or you’ll miss and spook it, but don’t aim directly at it, as you’ll need to account for the duck’s movement between when you see your sights, when you press the trigger, and when the shot hits it.
Keep these things in mind for your next duck hunt and see which ducks are more or less challenging for you.