WASHITA COUNTY, Okla. (TNN) -Oklahoma is part of the wintering range for many migratory birds, including several species of ducks and geese.
In 7 News Anchor Makenzie Burk’s latest Outdoor Adventure, she went duck hunting for the first time.
The day starts well before the sun comes up, setting up blinds, and putting out decoys. It’s a routine that Washita Game Warden Orlando Martinez is familiar with, having hunted ducks for 11 years.
“The thing that I love most about duck hunting is the camaraderie of everything,” said Martinez. “I mean the fact that you can sit there and chat and cut up, and then when ducks start working you tuck down, and work the birds and start shooting. And then after that you go back to talking.”
Martinez says preparation is key when it comes to duck hunting. He starts days ahead scouting out locations.
“They do like different kinds of vegetation,” said Martinez. “Different types of ducks too, you’ve got puddle ducks and you got your diver ducks. Your puddle ducks are typically gonna like shallower water, whereas your diver ducks, like in the name, they dive down and forage for their food. So it just depends on what kind of ducks you’re looking for.”
There’s about 14 or 15 different species of ducks that are common to Oklahoma, and you really need to know them.
“Your limit is 6 per person,” said Martinez. “That’s where it gets kind of tricky, because you have to know your duck species. Mallards for example, you can shoot 5 but only two can be hens. So if you’ve got 5 mallards , you have to shoot a different type of duck to get your six. So just knowing your types of ducks, studying that will help you tremendously.”
Blending into your surroundings is your best bet, because a duck’s main line of defense is its vision.
“So they really can’t smell, and really can’t hear, so they rely on their eyes,” said Martinez. “If they see something they don’t like, they won’t commit. And movement draws attention so if you’re moving a lot, they oftentimes see you and they’ll flare. So a good concealed blind will help tremendously with that. You’ll have more wiggle room, more air and it’ll help hide you better.”
He says while you don’t need a dog to duck hunt, but it definitely helps with the retrieval process
“If you have a really deep pond that you can’t wade out into, a dog would be awesome there,” said Martinez. “Not only that, but ducks will bury themselves in tall weeds and grass and they are really hard to find. There are people that use a small kayak to get out to it, I’ve even seen guys with fishing poles with the big lures that have treble hooks and they’ll cast out there and get their bird.”
He says duck hunting doesn’t have to be expensive. A couple dozen decoys, a good setup, and a few buddies is all you need.
“The biggest part is just getting out here and trying it,” said Martinez. “If something doesn’t work, change it up. There’s a lot of good information out there about hunting. You just put your nose down and start doing your homework.”
For a list of license requirements, and other Oklahoma waterfowl regulations you can go to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s website.