It’s finally here, all the waiting is over and you can’t wipe the smile off local water fowl hunters faces if you tried. The long months between the final day of last season and early teal season were bad but that couple of weeks between teal and the general opener is brutal. There’s been a steady stream of aluminum boats, dogs, and camo clad hunters buzzing around the marshes in preparation of this weekend’s opener. Speaking of preparation, duck and goose hunters seem to always be preparing for something; since the amount of gear and equipment needed is more involved than just about anything you have ever seen. If you don’t believe me about the amount of gear we use; just ask my wife, she will be glad to tell you how much Hunter and I have accumulated! Decoys of all shapes and sizes along with multiple pairs of boots, waders, and enough camo to make Academy blush.

Now aside from the gear, the other parts of the equation that take up most of the duck hunter’s time is construction of blinds and the maintenance that goes along with them. Well prepared hunters spend countless hours applying natural cover to their blinds in hopes of blending in with the surroundings. I see some guys go all out while others just try to get by. You can easily guess who usually shoots more ducks. The blinds that stick out like a sore thumb will work for a while early in the season until the birds get wise. After they have been shot at a time or two from the “taco stand square box” in the middle of a pond you couldn’t drag them near one. Blind design and location are probably two of the most important factors for success, so take the time to get them right and enjoy the all the work you put in them.

Now if you don’t have a place to put up a permanent blind you should consider either a portable layout style blind or maybe a boat blind. Both are excellent choices and make you mobile which is essential when you have to chase birds on public lands or water. I have fallen in love with my layout blind; it offers you a great opportunity to hunt just about anywhere and concealment is a breeze. I also really like the versatility of the boat blinds; they are awesome for hunting big water like Toledo Bend, Rayburn, or the bays. There are some great plans on the internet that show how to build your own boat blind for a fraction of the cost of new ones, you can customize it to your liking and do it on a budget. I am in the process of building one right now and I can say it’s just like anything else; you can get as crazy and elaborate as you want.
Now after all the equipment is taken care of and it’s time to hunt; it remains to be seen how all the rain is going to affect opening weekend. The last two concentrations of ducks that came in our area pushed out with cold fronts and bad weather associated with them. The forecast for the rest of the week shows another front and some more rain late in the week right before Saturday. Winds will shift out of the north and the temps will be perfect. Hopefully all the excess water won’t have the ducks scattered all over the map, we’ll just have go and find out.

One word of caution, be sure you are completely legal before you head out Saturday morning. New license, duck stamp, plug in your gun, and all the necessary safety gear and identification should all be checked before you hit the field. Nobody wants to start off a new year with a ticket. Be safe and enjoy.