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Canvasback Duck Hunting: What To Target

Canvasback Duck Hunting: What To Target

Everything You Need For A Successful Canvasback Duck Hunt

I have been canvasback duck hunting since I was 15-years-old.  The increased pressure over the last 10 years has ruined many of my favorite hunting holes over time.  One species that I never get tired of seeing or hunting is the Canvasback Duck.  Once hunted close to extinction because of its feathers and meat, this species of waterfowl have made an incredible comeback due to regulations and research.  

Canvasback Duck locations

Canvasback Duck Locations For Migration 

There are several places throughout the United States where Canvasback Ducks winter in large numbers.  A few of them are Chesapeake Bay, Lake Catahoula, Lake Seminole, Southern California, Coastal Louisiana, and Choke Canyon Reservoir.  My first ever drake Canvasback came from Lake Seminole in South Georgia.  This lake has large amounts of aquatic vegetation (mostly Hydrilla) that can feed large amounts of diver ducks including Canvasbacks.  However, with increased hunting pressure these birds get pushed off the lake and become decoy shy rather quickly.  Sometimes it takes different tactics to hunt them.  One of the largest wintering grounds for Canvasbacks was the Chesapeake Bay.  Over the last decade, biologists have seen the amount of aquatic vegetation decrease, and thus the number of Canvasbacks that winter there has decreased also.  

Where To Target Canvasback


Drake Canvasback While Duck Hunting

Drake Canvasback While Duck Hunting

In the 2018-2019 season, the majority of Canvasbacks in the Mississippi Flyway moved down to Southern Louisiana in mid to late December.  A recent waterfowl survey posted that over 50,000 Canvasbacks were using Catahoula Lake and another 200,000 were using the bays along the Louisiana coast. On a recent trip to Catahoula Lake, our group of 4 shot our limits of Canvasbacks every afternoon we hunted.  We had around five thousand birds trying to get into our decoy spread one afternoon.  It was one of the most epic Canvasback duck hunts I have ever been on.  Catahoula Lake is a public lake with private blinds located throughout.  I would suggest going with a guide in order to learn the lake.  Birds avoid most of the blinds after they have been using the lake for multiple days along with facing direct shots.  New birds will readily decoy into these blinds when they first reach the lake during migration.  On a good migration, this lake can hold Mallards, Pintail, Widgeon, Canvasbacks, Teal, Ringnecks, Gadwall, and even Snow and Specklebelly Geese.  Hunters run most of the puddle ducks off the lake in a few days, but the divers will stick around.

What Do You Need For A Canvasback Duck Hunt?

Canvasback Decoys
A good set of canvasback decoys helps a duck hunt.
Tactics for hunting Canvasbacks include plenty of Canvasback decoys.  I would suggest the Avian-X Topflight Canvasback Decoys or the GHG Pro-Grade Floater Canvasback Decoys.  FA Brand also makes a good Canvasback duck floater.  Decoy weights like the Texas Rig will be needed to help anchor your decoy spread.  Long lines, layout boats, or several other tactics may be used when canvasback hunting.  Try to imitate the natural placement of ducks with decoys.  Also, do not be afraid to supplement your decoy spread with some other divers or coots.  The Canvasback makes a grunt that can be imitated but for the most part, no duck calling is needed when decoying divers.  All hunters should look good while out hunting so make sure you are rocking the East Coast Waterfowl Canvasback trucker or the Major League Fowl timber canvasback on your next trip. The Canvasback duck is a prized duck for any hunters with its great table fare and beautiful plumage.  These birds have made a great comeback and deserve respect.  Remember there is a reason for low limits on these ducks and please abide by regulations. 
I hope you will find this information informative on canvasback duck hunting. If you have any questions or concerns, then leave a comment below or email us at Maybe you have other canvasback tips; please share them with the community by commenting below. Send us all your canvasback waterfowl pictures to be featured on our social media pages. We hope this canvasback duck hunting guide will allow you to become a better hunter and give you the needed tips to help you get a limit of birds. 
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