“He walked up to the line, glanced to the left and then back to the right. His headlamp came to a halt on an open area in the field, he pointed and made the call, an audible.”
Develop a series of adjustments, and be ready to use them.
Like an offense calling an audible on the opposing defense, I like to be able to make changes quickly and for the better. It is the one thing as hunters that we always have in our favor, CHANGE. Whether it is switching decoy patterns to allow birds into your kill hole, turning blinds with changes in the wind, calling at them more or vice versa. Whatever the change may be, knowing how and when to make it is critical.
Now you’re thinking, “Well that’s all great, but how am I supposed to know what changes to make?”
To answer that, let me first ask, have you ever went on a hunt questioning some form of your set-up? Furthermore, have you ever neglected to make that change only to find out later you should have made it, except it’s now too late? I should now have your attention, and so should your future hunting sets.
The initial set-up, this is where I believe we can make our biggest gains. As waterfowl hunters our window of time can be narrow, thus making quick changes ultra-important. I don’t know about you, but many times I lack the manpower, ability or even desire to completely switch out an entire decoy spread in enough time. Because of this, I start every hunt with what I call my “dummy set.”
The dummy set is exactly that, dumb. It’s a neutral pattern and is easily altered to any given direction. It’s not appealing to the eye and to be honest; initially, it most likely won’t be effective. Yet, it does do one thing well; it allows me to see firsthand the reaction and tendencies of that day’s prey.
Example, birds fly in and skirt to the right. I call the audible; block them on the right, resulting in a quick, simple fix. Now, let’s say the next flock attacks the same area as the last flock, even after I’ve tried to contain them. I have just pinpointed where the birds intend to light that day and choose it as my new kill hole. Obviously, this is a general example, some hunts may need more in- depth changes, but by limiting variables and making quick, simple adjustments, I have allowed myself plenty of time for a successful hunt.
Now, the initial dummy set should still have some attributes (kill hole, shooting lanes, etc.) of your “normal” decoy spreads. A pile of decoys in the middle of a field is not ideal, and it won’t serve its purpose. Give yourself the opportunity to make a quick change, by starting the hunt with a simple, compact, neutral set-up.
Keep your hunt foolproof by using a dummy set and prepare to call the audible. Successful hunts are in your future.