by Bill Miller

The ultimate goal in waterfowl hunting over decoys is to completely fool the birds into thinking they are actually joining their live kin on the water or in the field. When you’ve done everything right, the birds will be so close it will seem you can almost reach out and touch their feathers with your fingertips.

To make that happen, everything must be perfect. The decoys appear real. Your calling convinces them. Your scouting and knowledge is thorough. And even then, it takes a little bit of good fortune. One way you can make your own luck is to ensure that you, your dog, and your gear are perfectly concealed from approaching birds. Here’s a checklist that will help you hide better.


Color and Background

When you’re talking eyesight, it’s far more difficult to hide from feathered game than from deer or any big game. It’s believed that deer see in black, white and gray tones, but birds see in color even more than we do. Why else would many male birds have such amazingly vivid plumage to attract mates?

So when you’re hunting waterfowl, selecting camouflage patterns that blend well with the color and contrast of the terrain in which you’ll be hunting is vital. That’s why top camouflage companies like Realtree offer such a variety of patterns. When you’re hunting the late fall marsh or cornfields, a pattern like Realtree Max-5 is designed to blend in perfectly in texture, shadow and coloration. But in the flooded green timber, Realtree Xtra may hide you best among the oaks.


Minimize Movement

The most perfectly blended camouflage patterns and colors will be defeated if you move at the wrong time. As birds approach and assess a decoy spread, they’re looking for two kinds of movement. Natural movement like birds stretching their wings and water ripples created by swimming birds put the birds at ease and invite them in. Hard-hunted ducks and geese are also looking for movement indicating danger such as you turning your head, moving your arms, or adjusting the position of your shotgun as you prepare to shoot. Such movements will flair birds instantly out of range. You must be perfectly still to bring the birds close.

One of the most common reasons you’ll want to move is because you’re cold. However, it’s also one of the easiest movements to prevent by carefully selecting quality clothing and gear. Duck and goose hunting requires exertion in paddling or hiking to the hunting spot, setting out decoys and preparing the blind. Then it requires you to sit as still as possible in the cold and often wet weather to wait for the birds. It’s a combo that can make a hunter cold – fast – and nothing is more demanding of your hunting clothing. That’s why Under Armour makes dozens of designs suited especially to the needs of men and women hunters, including waterfowlers!

Even in warm weather, biting insects like mosquitoes, are another irritant that can make you move a lot. You can defeat flying insects with 98-percent effectiveness by including a ThermaCELL unit in your waterfowl hunting gear. Carry one in your blind bag, fire it up, and wait for the ducks and geese without swatting insects or scratching their itchy bites!