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Wood Duck Hunting 101: 10 Ultimate Wod Duck Tips

Wood Duck Hunting 101: 10 Ultimate Wood Duck Tips

The 10 Best Wood Duck Hunting Tips On The Planet 

As a waterfowl hunter, there is nothing better than cool winter mornings for wood duck hunting. The drop in temperature combined with the falling of leaves signals the start to duck season. Once the trees have shed their foliage it exposes a world that is nothing but alive. From the creeks and flooded forests to the beaver ponds, you will find an ecosystem perfect to keep one of the prettiest animals in the forest happy. The wood duck in all his glory rules over this domain and you will find these smaller waterfowl zipping throughout the woods.

Several Wood Duck Hunting Tips Every Waterfowl Hunter Must Remember

Wood Duck Hunting Tip #1: Please Do Some Scouting

Scouting For Wood Ducks

Scouting For Wood Ducks (Photo Credit: Boreal Impressions)

Scouting for wood duck hunting is essential to have successful hunts. Scouting will require you to put in the time. Scouting is like practice, would you ever play a football game without practicing? The answer is NO! This should be the same mindset for wood duck hunting. Scouting areas before the season even open will help you find the right areas to target when the duck hunting season opens. Knowing the specific areas the wood ducks will be in will help you plan for where you want to hunt. Locating the certain points is critical for mapping out the specific locations wood ducks will be throughout the day. The areas of feed are important because wood ducks will visit it throughout the day. It is a good bet that in the early morning hours woodies will be in areas that are abundant in food. Trying to find specific areas of cover that wood ducks may be around can help put you on the meat. Look for specific areas on creeks and ponds with fallen timber. Fallen timber is your best friend when wood duck hunting. One of the best things that all waterfowl hunters should remember is that wood ducks always seek thicker coverage. Remember that when scouting new areas of creeks and wooded ponds. 

Wood Duck Hunting Tip #2: Location For Hunting Setup

Locations For Finding Woodies

Areas To Set Up To Hunt (Photo Credit: @ Burnaby Outdoors)

Trying to figure out the habits of wood ducks can be a challenge. This is one area that waterfowl hunters try to master. Knowing where they will be when the sun rises can be the difference between a great hunt or a bad hunt. Wood ducks always have a location in mind of where the food is. This area will be where the woody flies to at daybreak. Knowing where they are feeding will help you predict where they will go from the roost. It is this information that is essential for knowing where to set up for a duck hunt. The most common patterns of wood ducks tend to be roost at night and leave the roost in the morning to feed. 

It is essential to know these areas and set up before the wood ducks arrive. Part of your hunt comes in the days before the hunt by observing them in their natural habitat and figuring out the feeding locations. Incorporate this into your scouting trips because finding the feed will lead you straight to the meat.

Wood Duck Hunting Tip #3: Decoys Don't Matter

Wood Duck Decoys

Minimal Wood Duck Decoys Work Just As Good (Photo Credit:

When you're looking for wood ducks often times you will find them in very small groups compared to other species of ducks. Woodies tend to stay in groups of 2-12, unlike their mallard counterparts who could have several hundred in a flock. These smaller groups mean it will be easier to attract them into a minimal decoy spread. There is no need to set out 100 decoys like you are snow goose hunting. Ultimately, you will just be wasting your time. Try keeping your spreads to a minimum for a more realistic approach. Placing 5-10 decoys sounds like a reasonable wood duck hunting number that will not break the bank or break your back to carry them out through marsh-like conditions.

Since the wood ducks do not require big elaborate decoy spreads to draw them in, the number one thing that will bring the woodies in is if you are in the area they want to feed. Often time you could have as few as 2 decoys and they will fly in to feed regardless. This is great news for all my penny pincher duck hunters. You don't need 100 decoys in the spread to attract wood ducks. Save your money for another day and still have an awesome time wood duck hunting.

Wood Duck Hunting Tip #4: Wood Duck Calling Helps

In Swamp Calling Wood Ducks

Swamp Calling Wood Ducks (Photo Credit: Realtree)

Like most ducks, calling wood ducks in always helps. The duck sounds that wood duck give off are not very complicated and most duck hunters can achieve the right tones with the right calls. The sound woo-eek woo-eek is the perfect call in for all woodies. This gives them a sense of security that will often times allow them to land in a specific area. So do you need some big expensive wood duck call? Not at all. Find a cheap wood duck call and learn how to create the duck tones you hear when your our scouting wood ducks. Always remember wood ducks are very different than mallard. They only require a little bit of calling to spark their interest. Keep it simple and create a soft woo-eek woo-eek or sw-eet sw-eet  to help bring them in.

Wood Duck Hunting Tip #5: Wear The Right Camouflage & Gear

Flooded Woods Camo For Wood Ducks

Flooded Woods Camo For Wood Ducks (Photo Credit: @Realtree)

Wood ducks are found in more remote locations that are often heavily wooded. Wearing the right type of camo is critical. Leave all your field hunting camo at home because in flooded wooded areas you will stick out like a sore thumb in your Max5 camo. The best camo patterns to wear while wood duck hunting is timber pattern. Realtree makes some great patterns to help you blend into your wooded surroundings. Invest in a good pair of waders to wood duck hunt. The majority of areas that wood ducks reside in are often flooded wooded areas. As far as all other gear is up to the hunter's discretion. Always remember to hunt in whatever is most comfortable for you and what will keep you dry in warm in the winter months.

Wood Duck Hunting Tip #6: Best Gun & Load For Wood Ducks

Having the right type of equipment is essential for any type of hunt. If you are using the wrong gear it can hamper your success and ultimately prevent you from bringing home the meat. Whatever kind of shotgun you use for your field duck hunts will be sufficient for hunting wood ducks. The Remington Versa Max or the Benelli Nova are two great 12-gauge shotguns that are perfect for wood duck hunting. The best type of load to shoot for woodies is a 3-inch load of No. 4s. 

Wood Duck Hunting Tip #7: Slow Down The Wood Duck

Flying Wood Duck

Flying Wood Duck (Photo Credit: Purely Poultry)

Wood ducks are a very fast wing flyer. They will dart and dash around heavily wooded areas making them hard to track and even harder to shoot. When wood duck hunting it pays to be accurate. It could be the difference between a bag limit and missing a ton of woodies. Make sure when you shoot you fold it or it may just shoot right past you at supersonic speeds.

Wood Duck Hunting Tip #8: Jump Shooting Wood Ducks Is A Must

Jump Shooting Wood Ducks

Jump Shooting Wood Ducks (Photo Credit: Fin and Field Blog)

In all honesty, this may be my number one favorite way to duck hunt. For one it does not require you to wake up at daybreak. You can sleep in and catch up on some much-needed sleep. You and your friends can walk creeks or rivers stealthy creep up on nearby woodies. Many of these wood ducks will be resting or feeding. As long as your quiet and use the terrain to your advantage you will be able to get within shooting range of wood ducks in the area. Walk with anticipation of fleeing wood ducks. They will be trying to leave in a hurry so be prepared to stop the evacuation. 

There are two types of jump shooting that waterfowl hunters can do. The first is by foot along a creek, stream or beaver pond. Ambushing wood ducks while being quiet will land you the opportunity to shoot at a lot of ducks. The other way to jump shoot is by kayak, canoe or boat. One person paddles down the waterway while the other shoots fleeing birds. Both are very effective in their own way but still require you to have a quick and accurate shot.

Wood Duck Hunting Tip #9: Hunting Dog Makes Life Easier

Hunting Dog With Wood Duck

Retriever With Wood Duck (Photo Credit: Echo Press )

The terrain you encounter while hunting wood ducks is often pretty extreme. Having a hunting dog that can maneuver it with ease will make your life that much better. Tracking where a bird falls is critical after you shoot it. Often times you will have just wounded it and it will do everything in its power to get away. Wood ducks are the kings of diving into vegetation to get away. Once they escape there will be no finding it. Unless you deploy mans best friend in for the rescue. They may be able to escape your eyesight but they will never escape the nose of a dog.

Wood Duck Hunting Tip #10: Do Not Freeze Wood Duck Breasts

The wood duck is one of the best eating waterfowl species in the United States. They taste even better when they are fresh. Too many duck hunters will freeze their duck breasts for later date usage. It can not be stressed enough to keep it fresh and do not freeze it. There are many great duck hunting recipes out there, but I guarantee a wood duck breast will taste better than almost all others.

By remembering these 10 steps it will all you to find more wood ducks and help bag you a limit. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to leave us a comment below or email us at We would love to hear about your successful wood duck hunting trips and see everything you bagged. We would also love to see all of your wood duck kills so make sure you send us all your great duck photos to be featured on our social media pages. So get out there wood duck hunting this year and have a successful wood duck season. 


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Joseph n Eyster - June 10, 2023

Super informative article, well written with great photos..Thanks

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