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Filtering by Tag: duck

field notes: shotgunning tips

Emily Degan

With mid-season approaching many duck hunters have, at this point, likely experienced both exciting and slower days in the field. Make the most of all of your hunts by bagging the ducks that do fly over with our top five shooting tips:

These are a few of our favorite things. 

These are a few of our favorite things. 

  1. Let the shotgun do the work – Your cheek should weld to the stock of your gun so that you’re able to comfortably look down the barrel and move together as one unit. Don’t lower your head to meet the gun; doing so impacts both your perception and range of motion.
     
  2. Rotate from your hips – Move your feet as little as possible for smooth set-up and shooting.
     
  3. Focus on the front of the target – This builds in a little cushion for error as you calculate lead.
     
  4. Swing through – Follow through is as essential in shooting as it is in golf; keep swinging your shotgun even after you pull the trigger to ensure the pattern lands where you intend. Use the English method of estimating lead by saying to yourself, “butt, belly, beak, boom!” as you swing through the bird. 
     
  5. Practice patience – Don’t rush to shoot just as soon as a bird comes in. Make all of your shots worthwhile by giving yourself an extra second or two to properly mount your gun and aim before pulling the trigger.

Happy hunting!
Emily  

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saint hugh cooks: duck and pumpkin risotto

Emily Degan

We recently learned that Chef Emeril Lagasee offers an extensive selection of free recipes online. When we came across this one, we knew we had to share it. It would make the perfect addition to any holiday spread.

Duck And Pumpkin Risotto With Toasted Pumpkin Seeds And Duck Cracklings

Ingredients
1 roast duck, including the skin
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups diced cooked pumpkin
1/4 cup chopped onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
2 cups Arborio rice
3 cups Duck or Brown Chicken Stock, hot
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
8 turns freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon softened unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup coarsely grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seed

Directions
1. Once the duck is roasted, remove the skin and cut it into a julienne, about 1 cup. Render the skin in a large skillet over high heat, stir-frying until crisp and brown, for about 6 minutes.
2. Remove from the skillet and drain on paper towels.
3. Shred the duck meat from the bones, about 2 1/2 cups.
4. In a medium size sauce pan, over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon duck fat add the onions, garlic, and sage, and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in the rice and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in 1 cup of the stock, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil.
5. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally until all the liquid has evaporated. Continue to cook adding the stock in 1 cup increments until all of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender and creamy, for about 18 minutes total.
6. Add the heavy cream and butter and cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer.
7. Fold in the pumpkin and shredded duck meat.

To serve, allow 2 cups risotto each for 4 main-course servings; 1 cup each for 8 first-course servings. Serve in bowls and sprinkle with cracklings, pumpkin seeds, and Parmesan.
(original here)

Happy cooking!
Emily

field notes: on early season decoy spreads

Emily Degan

Despite having brains roughly the size of ping pong balls, ducks are not stupid animals. They notice changes in colors, patterns, and calls, and they react accordingly. This is why when it comes to decoy spreads, many hunters fancy themselves artists. Spreads should reflect the natural behavior of ducks in specific waterways, temperatures, and times of the season. Ducks are dynamic, and decoy spreads should be too. So at the beginning of the season, how should you set up your decoy spread?

We recommend a J-shaped formation, like this one.

We recommend a J-shaped formation, like this one.

  1. Understand the biology – Early in the season, ducks are likely to feed near shorelines. This is because they need protein to grow their flight feathers for migration, found in nutrient rich food sources near the water’s edge. Later in the season, they’ll look for more carbohydrate rich food sources, like grain found in field settings.
     
  2. Introduce movement – Moving spreads are more lifelike than stationary ones, so many hunters make use of spinning decoys. Spinners are more effective early in the season because, with time, ducks become immune to their rhythmic motion. Don’t set up your spinner right in front of your blind though – doing so calls attention to it, blowing your camouflage. 
     
  3. Embrace color – Blue and green winged teal migrate earlier than other species, so including some colored decoys in your early season spread makes it look more realistic.
     
  4. Present a clear landing path – Ducks don’t like to fly over the heads of other ducks, so include a clear path for landing. And always have decoys face the current. 

Happy hunting!
Emily

 

10 tips to prepare for duck season

Emily Degan

In just a few short weeks, hunters across the southeast will happily skip sleep as they celebrate the opening of duck season. We thought we’d help them prepare by gently reminding them to do the following:  

Do you have your ducks in a row?

Do you have your ducks in a row?

  1. Secure your space – Communicate with landowner(s) and any other members of your group to avoid surprises on opening day.
     
  2. Check and double-check opening dates, times, limits, and licenses – Don’t rely on last year’s information; in many states, legal shooting begins later than normal on opening day.
     
  3. Test your transportation – Nothing would be more frustrating than starting the season with motor trouble.
     
  4. Scout – It’s likely that terrain has changed since last year; test your transport while scouting for areas that are holding water well or have a good food source. Take notes.
     
  5. Prep your pups – Take your dogs scouting, do a couple practice retrieves, and let them explore the area to ensure they’re comfortable and calm on opening day.
     
  6. Prep yourself – Get some exercise. This season will hopefully be filled with long and fruitful hunts: make sure you have the stamina to enjoy them to the fullest.
     
  7. Clean your gun and buy ammo – Don’t be the person that has to blame not having limited on gun trouble. And if you’re applying a choke, make sure you’re using a lubricant that won’t freeze and bind it to the barrel when temperatures drop.
     
  8. Plan your outfit – If you’ve been street-styling your Saint Hugh since teal season, you already know your gear is good to go. If not, pull last season’s duds out from the back of your closet, and make sure they still fit and work.
     
  9. Organize your decoys – Are your decoys still the tangled mess they were at the end of last season? Fix that.
     
  10. Practice your calls – Use a five-note descending call on opening day, then modify the tempo and timbre based on bird response.

Happy hunting!
Emily

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