While many outdoor enthusiasts likely dream of owning their very own duck hunting paradise, purchasing the right tract of duck hunting land is simply the first step. The real joy of owning a hunting property comes in the satisfaction of carefully managing the habitat and creating even more opportunities for that perfect shot when hunting season comes around.
Here are a few tips for landowners to maximize the potential of their duck hunting land and increase the chances that waterfowl will stop by during hunting season!
Location of Duck Hunting Land
One factor to consider when evaluating duck hunting land is the location of not only hunting blinds but also the property itself. Because ducks require certain ecological features to thrive, some properties are simply better suited for duck hunting than others! During his appearance on the National Land Podcast, NC Land Broker Josh Pelletier shared crucial information for landowners looking to improve their duck hunting land.
Regarding the size and location of a duck hunting property, Pelletier stated, “For people further inland with most soil types, a 10-acre spot is great, a 20-acre spot is better, and it goes up from there. If you own 360 degrees around your water source or both sides of it, you’re way ahead of the game. If your property line runs down the middle of the water source, then your neighbor is going to be shooting at the same ducks you’re aiming at.
You could build the best duck property in the world, but if it doesn’t have a flyway, river system, or large bodies of water that the ducks can roost off of and find some rest, then it probably won’t be a great duck hunting property.”
Vegetation for Ducks and Waterfowl
Another important factor for any good duck hunting property is available and adequate vegetation. Without ample food and cover, any would-be game will likely fly right over a property and opt for areas more plentiful in available food sources.
When it comes to promoting vegetation growth on duck hunting land, landowners should avoid broadleaf plants and instead try to foster more natural grasses. Pelletier explained this, stating, “There are a hundred different plant species that can be in the swamp, but I tell most people that if it’s got a broadleaf on it, it might be good for some cover for the ducks, but it’s not going to be of any nutritional value. So we want your barnyard grasses, wild millets, smartweeds, and stuff like that. And the more native and natural the seed, the harder that seed’s going to be, it’s going to last you through the years.
If you can mimic the seasonal flooding of a wetland by drawing the water level in your pond down in the summertime to create that edge where you can promote smartweed, barnyard grass, or millet, that’s the best way to put some duck food out there.”
Depending on soil composition, some landowners may be able to promote vegetation growth on their property by hand with relative ease. Pelletier explained, “We’ll look at soil types, we’ll look at the vegetation that’s holding. Some people might have a great swamp property where all you need to do is selectively take out some trees to let the sunlight into the forest floor. That will allow great grasses to grow and when the natural creek or river floods later in the year, you’ve got a great duck hunting property and all it cost the landowner was 30 minutes with a chainsaw.”
Managing Pressure on Game Species
Ironically, less management and landowner interference can often result in more ducks on a property! Refraining from overhunting the property and unnecessarily disturbing ducks while they roost will decrease the likelihood of scaring them away from a property. Fewer disturbances will allow the ducks to feel more comfortable and view the property as a safe haven rather than a potentially dangerous place to stop.
Pelletier echoed this sentiment, stating, “One of the biggest things that I tell people is that you can have the best duck property in the world, but if you put too much pressure on the ducks, they’re going to leave. The ducks need to be comfortable, eat, and rest.
You shouldn’t be driving a truck down there just to look at them because they’ll jump and find somewhere else where they won’t get messed with. If you can stay out of there and just go in when you hunt, you’re going to have more success.
These are things that landowners can control pretty easily. The food, the water, and the pressure are all things that we can manage. You can’t control the weather and you can’t control the ducks, so we focus on these things we can control.”
By keeping these factors in mind while performing off-season management, landowners can not only maximize the number of ducks on their property but also improve their chances at a successful hunting season come fall/winter! If you’d like to learn more about managing a duck hunting property or finding one yourself, contact your local Land Professional today!