Editor’s Note: Mario Friendy of Sherwood, Oregon, is in charge of all western sales and the Zink Calls Pro Staff in Canada and is the Mossy Oak Pro Staff Regional Manager for waterfowl for the Pacific flyway. Since he was 8-years old, Friendy's been hunting ducks and geese - first with his dad in Pennsylvania where he grew up - and he’s won the Best of the West two-man duck calling championship.
When we’re not hunting mallards specifically, instead of putting out small decoy spreads, we’ll put out really-large decoy spreads - usually six dozen decoys or even 400 decoys when we’re hunting with a duck club. We place the decoys indiscriminately, but we leave a landing spot where we want the ducks to come to, so we can get our shots. We put all of our motion ducks - like our jerk strings and our spinning wing decoys - in the kill hole. If we’re in a sheet water field, we’ll be using layout blinds. If we have a fence row to hunt from, we use an Avian-X A-frame blind with Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades camo on it. We set this blind in the fence row on the edge of grass fields that fill up with sheet water. We like the A-frame blind, because we can set it right in the fence row, if the sheet water comes up to the edge of the fence row. This way, the ducks never see us until we come up to shoot. We put out a large number of pintail, shoveler, and widgeon decoys. Mostly, we’ll put out drake-colored Avian-X decoys and mix in a few geese decoys. When we’re hunting sheet water, we’ll use full body decoys instead of floaters, and we put them right on the edge of the sheet water. We put the full-bodied decoys on the edge of the shore and the floaters close to the full-bodied decoys to give our spread a more-natural look. In the early morning low light, we use spinning wing decoys. Then when the sun becomes brighter, we take them out of the spread. We've learned that the ducks will shy away from the spinning wing decoys when they can see better. And don’t forget, these ducks have seen decoys since October. When they can see the height of the spinning wing decoy and the pole that holds it up, I'm convinced they don’t come in as readily as they do when we pull the spinning wing decoy out of the decoy spread at that time.
When we’re calling to these ducks, we call with a lot of widgeon whistles and pintail whistles, and we may throw a goose call in, if we have a few goose decoys in the spread. Usually, we’ll have four to eight hunters over a big spread like this, because we may call in 100 to 150 ducks at one time. We find these ducks by getting on the road and scouting just like we do for mallards. However, at this time of the year, we usually know where all the sheet water is located. Plus, we depend on our network of farmers and our duck hunting buddies who are on the road constantly looking for ducks.
Getting permission to hunt some of these farms out here can be difficult, because many of the farmers have formed duck clubs and make a little extra money by leasing their fields out to duck hunters. If we have six men hunting, we can shoot 42 ducks. If the six hunters with us collectively take 35 ducks or more in a morning shoot, that’s a really good day for us. We usually take our two bird limit of pintails for sure. Then, we’ll fill in with widgeon, teal, gadwalls and an occasional mallard, as well as some shovelers. An average day for six hunters may be 24 to 30 birds.