Has this ever happened to you?
Ducks are banking on the corner and floating over the middle of your kill hole for a brief moment only to pick up their wings to make another pass and another pass, then they are gone. You think to yourself, “We had our shot.”
Or, the ducks are lining up right, and you’re calling to a flock. A hen breaks off and is back peddling in the decoys while you’re still working on the rest of the flock, and bang! One of your buddies in the blind steps up and shoots the hen while the rest of the group is just about to do it right.
A lot of hunters shoot too early. I hear it everywhere I go, “Duck hunting would be better here if people would quit sky busting.” It’s true. People shoot ducks too high. I’ve hunted in many places with hundreds of different people and have yet to see anyone that can consistently and efficiently kill ducks at distances over 40 yards. I like shooting ducks at 20 yards. I have been in the blind with people who say they could kill those ducks at 50 yards and they pull up on a group of 15 ducks and three guys unload nine shots into them and may knock one down out of the flock. Then they shoot another couple shots on the water trying to chase it down. That same guy turns and says, “See, I told you we could kill them that high.” No! You can shoot 12 shots knocking one down, all while you are educating the rest of the flock. If you let ducks get into range and be patient, you will kill more ducks efficiently.
Here is a way to eliminate getting upset with your hunting buddies for “skybusting” or not taking the shot when you should. Communicate! Have a plan. Every duck hunt I go on we have a discussion before shooting time to determine who is going to call the shot. Everyone needs to be on the same page. It’s safer, more enjoyable, and will give you more success. You don’t have to have the same person call the shot the whole time, you can take turns, especially if you are hunting with buddies that hunt a lot and know when to call the shot. When I’m guiding I call the shot but when I’m hunting with friends or family, we usually decide who calls the shot based on who is sitting on the downwind side of the blind. That way when the birds get past them everyone has a safe shot and can shoot their shooting lanes.
It’s not important who calls the shot, it’s just important that everyone in the blind knows who will be calling the shot. Having that conversation beforehand will set you up for success throughout the hunt. I will also communicate with the hunting group when calling to ducks. Now, my buddies usually give me crap about being too loud when ducks are working, because I’ll call out things like, “the ducks are coming around your end” or “the drake swung to the left.” I usually talk above a whisper, but I’ve found that you can get away with a lot more than you think you can, especially with multiple people calling in the blind. But that communication is key when there are multiple callers, so you’re not blowing ducks out by calling when ducks are on top of you. Communicate with each other, be on the same page and you will be more successful and have more fun!