duck

Duck Yak

| December 2, 2020
Duck Yak on the water
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

A Duck Yak, or as others call them a Quack Yak, are kayaks setup or modified for waterfowl hunting. Mine is a basic angling kayak, modified for duck hunting.

I didn’t have a dog to retrieve ducks my first year of waterfowl hunting, and chest waders only let a person wade so far into big water. I’ve learned a lot, and improved my harvest with better tactics, but setting up a kayak for duck hunting has been a huge game changer.

My Duck Yak is a modified Lifetime Tamarack 100 angling kayak. I couldn’t justify owning a dedicated sneak boat, and don’t have the space to store a nice drift or jon boat, even if I could justify the cost.

Camo Paint Job

I added an anchor, a few small boat cleats, a lager cup holder that is usually used for spent shot shells, button snaps for adjusting material camo, a few rattle cans of Rustoleum camouflage paint, a little labor, and some mounting hardware can change a simple kayak, into a great duck yak.

Of course, the setup isn’t complete without a camo life vest, and a few good kayak leashes to keep things, like your paddle, from disappearing into the sink.

I’m harvesting above the average, and half of my time hunting is spent in the Duck Yak. It’s a fun and exciting way to hunt, and makes bird recovery and access to new spots easy.

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Waterfowl Concealment

| March 13, 2020
duck hunting concealment
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

Blend In
Camouflage everything. This isn’t just about you and your personal gear, it means your blind too. The best concealment is a natural one. Vegetation or artificial netting, grass mats, raffia, and corn stalks, used to brush a blind, should match the local vegetation. It seems like a no-brainer but think about where you will hunt, and what would make blend in best. Also, work with the terrain. A tall blind set up in short vegetation, doesn’t look natural, regardless of how well the camouflage matches the vegetation of the environment.

Don’t Shine
I am a fan of the natural walnut and black gloss barrel and receiver of my 12 gauge Benelli Montefeltro. But it isn’t the best shotgun for waterfowl hunting. Fortunately, self-cling wraps, like Gear Aid Camo Form cling wrap provide a fast, affordable, and effective option for camouflaging guns, and any other equipment that isn’t well camouflaged. Cling Wraps have an added benefit of variety. Buying a couple of wraps for snowy conditions, grassy conditions etc. give a versatility to your weapon to blend in to many surroundings

Don’t Move
Like a flash of light, movement, even in a blind is a fast way for migratory birds to identify something unnatural is happening. So don’t move more than you have to.

Be Quiet
Human voices aren’t natural sounds to birds. Like a bad sheen, and movement, noise is a good way to scare of birds.

Concealment Equipment Tips
Birds have the ability to see into a range of the UV spectrum that humans cannot. This makes the sheen of the sun on your skin more visible to them, and an obvious tell that there is danger on the a spread of decoys in front of them. Wearing hood, or a hat and mask combination is an effective way to avoid being seen.
King’s Camo® Hood Mask
Hard Core® Men’s ArcTech Fleece Ulti-Mask
Cabela’s Camo Face Mask Cap

Layout blinds are a versatile option for hunting waterfowl. They bascally come in two varieties, a lot of different colors and materials, and a rage of costs.
Framed Camo Pattern Option – $249
Bulk Decoy Club Lightweight Field Hunting Layout Blind – $89 This is the blind used in the featured photo, brushed with raffia grass. It is really light at 4 lbs, and can be used to transport up to 18 decoys, and a tiny bit of equipment.

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Duck Euro Mount

| January 19, 2020
mallard duck euro mount
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

I really happen to like euro style mounts across just about every animal species, so I did a euro mount out of a Mallard Drake to add to my collection.

Because of the fragile and small nature of a bird skull, they are actually more work to clean than a larger skull.

The 4 step boiling method however, is the same.

Step 1: Cleaning
Remove as much muscle and tissue as possible, then gently boil with dish soap.

Step 2: Boiling and Cleaning
After boiling for a while, use your judgement, remove any additional loosened tissue, like brain, or connective tissue, replace water with clean water and more dish soap, and continue to boil. Repeat step 2 as many times as it take to remove all tissue.

Step 3: Bleaching
Do a last boil with soap, but also add hydrogen peroxide. If the skull properly cleaned at this point, you don’t need very much hydrogen peroxide to get a nice white skull. I personally like to see a tiny bit of color in various parts of a skull. Bleaching also helps kill any bacteria that would cause any hidden or unseen tissue from rotting later. Although this step can be done with bleach, as the name implies, bleach will make bones chalky, and weak.

Step 4: Let Dry
The simplest step, let dry. I let dry in direct sunlight, as this seems to help whiten the skull to a more bright white. Make sure no critters steal your mount at this stage.

Step 5: Sealing(Optional)
I don’t ever seal my euro mounts, I’ve never found a need. However some people will clear coat, lacquer, or even paint white, their skulls.

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Green Teal Duck Hunt

| December 9, 2019
Green Teal Hen and Drake
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

Its been a while since I had a chance to get out and do any successful wing shooting. So when I harvested a couple Green Teal ducks the other day, I was pretty happy.

After a late start on an overcast morning. I set up a short camouflage blind against a background of tall sage brush, and lazily tossed 6 Hard Core Brands Mallard Decoys into some shallow water in front of it. I used a blind similar to the Ameristep 4-Spur Blind and it was just way too short. I ended up doing a bunch of crouching.

Reflection on Lake

Two ducks down, on a lake with cool reflections.

A small group of ducks eventually made a mistake, and flew in over the dekes. I doubt they were enticed by my shitty calling.

I usually shoot upland birds, Dove, quail, grouse and chukar, and don’t have a ton of migratory bird hunting experience. It’s probably the reason I didn’t gauge my shooting distance too well, and thought the rather small Teal were twice as far and twice as big. I waited longer than I had too and folded 2 birds.

The birds fell into about 6 inches of water, and a friends young lab, after a significant amount of coercing, retrieved the ducks. The commotion on the side of the lake, pushed the ducks off, so we called it good for the day.

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