6 Duck Hunting Shooting Tips

Duck Hunting Shooting Tips

Duck hunting can be a challenging sport to master.  Regardless of your experience, consistently bagging your limit of ducks can be a tricky venture.  One of the most common issues that duck hunters have is actually hitting ducks with their shots when they do get them to come into range.  In this post I will share with you 6 duck hunting shooting tips that you can try to help you on your next duck hunting trip.


Duck Hunting Shooting Tips Example:

Duck Hunting Shooting Tips
Duck Hunting Shooting Tips


Duck Hunting Shooting Tips:

  • Practice in Advance
  • Be Patient
  • Watch for “cupped wings”
  • Lead The Ducks
  • Place your shot
  • Learn from missed shots


Practice in Advance

Practicing your shooting skills in advance of the duck hunting season can play a big role in your success.  It can be easy to forget about practicing in the off season and then opening day shows up and you have not spent any time refreshing your shooting skills.  Personally, I think one of the biggest reasons to let practice from shooting slide to the back burner is that shooting clay pigeons is not always that exciting.


I would like to encourage you to think of other ways that you could practice shooting by getting more hunting in.  As an example, in almost all areas pigeons are an unregulated nuisance species meaning that they can be hunted throughout the year without limit or license.  Hunting real pigeons is not something a lot of water fowlers think about doing but it can be a fun way to practice your shooting as well as begin a new sport.
Pigeons dive and change directions extremely quickly so if you spend a few days hunting these difficult to hit birds you will most certainly be in a better position to hit ducks when the season starts.  Not only will you be doing yourself a favor of honing your shooting skills but you will be doing the landowner a favor of thinning out the pigeon population.


In fact, asking for permission to hunt pigeons can be a great way to find new property for waterfowl hunting.  Sometimes landowners are more reserved in giving permission to hunt their land for ducks but if you go in the offseason when other hunters are not asking for permission you are more likely to get permission to hunt for pigeons.  Then, if you are polite, treat their property with respect and even offer to help with a few chores it can be a great way to open the doors to a relationship with the landowner that could allow you to hunt ducks there in the future.


Be Patient

Another challenge that duck hunters run into when they are having troubles hitting the ducks patience.  Many hunters shoot way to early and are not patient in letting the ducks come within effective shotgun range.   Some of this can be due to the lack of practice in the offseason and not being able to judge distances accurately.  The more you practice shooting the better of a feel you get on how far your shotgun can effectively down ducks.


But another part of being patient with shooting ducks is not paying attention their flight pattern that they often take when approaching your decoy spread.  In many situations ducks will circle your decoy spread a few times prior to making their approach to land.  The ducks do this to check out the spread, find a good landing location as well as ensuring the location looks safe.  However, many duck hunters are not patient enough to let the ducks circle before taking a shot.   The problem that this presents is that you scare the ducks away before you ever have a realistic shot of hitting the ducks because of the far distance.


The above decoy spread diagram illustrates how ducks can make a circling pattern before they come in for a landing.  As you can see they may go around the spread and eventually make an approach.  Of course there are times when the ducks come to your decoys right away with their feet down and provide you a good shot.  However, when the ducks are too far away you should try and be patient and let them get close before pulling the trigger.


Watch for “Cupped Wings”

When you get ducks that are about to land they will get to the point where they cup their wings. They are prepping for a landing and are looking for a comfortable landing spot.   Just be sure they are within shooting range which is generally 40 yards.


Lead Your Birds When Pass Shooting

Leading the ducks means is that you do not want to aim directly at the body of the bird when you shoot.  The reason this is ineffective is because ducks are so fast that if you aim directly at them by the time you pull the trigger and the BBs reach the area the duck was at you will have shot behind the duck.  Follow the steps below to effectively shoot a duck that is flying by.


  • Aim slightly ahead of the duck.
  • Pull the trigger.
  • Continue to move your gun in the path of the duck.
  • Take a second shot if necessary.


Place Your Shot

Now let’s discuss where on the duck you should attempt to place your shot.  If possible, the best place to hit the duck is in the head and chest area as an accurately-placed shot here will provide a very quick and lethal kill. This will also preserve the most meat. With a shotgun, since it produces multiple shots, it will be hard not to sometimes hit other parts of the body of the duck too, but at least if you aim for the head and chest you will be better off.


In some cases the ducks will be flying away from you so you have no other choice but to shoot it from behind. Just be aware that the thickest feathers are on the back side of the bird so when you are shooting them from behind they have the most protection from the BBs lowering the chance that the BBs will penetrate for a kill.


Learn From Missed Shots

Any duck hunter regardless of experience level has missed many shots so it is important to not let yourself get down when you miss.  Use missed shot as an opportunity to learn from your mistakes.   After more time hunting your hit rates will improve but keep in mind that you will never have 100% accuracy and that is completely normal.


I would encourage you to critically think about the shots you took and why you think you missed.  Did you shoot too early?  Did you not lead the duck?  Did you follow through with your shot?  These are all questions to ask yourself as you analyze what you need to adjust for better success on future hunts.


Final Thoughts: Duck Hunting Shooting Tips

Shooting ducks in flight can be a challenging task.  They are extremely fast and can be unpredictable with their flight paths.  However, with some time practicing you can greatly improve your duck shooting skills.  Remember to be patient, lead the ducks, practice in advance and learn from your missed shots.  By paying attention to all of these factors you are sure to improve your shooting success.


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