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VA – HUNTING – Duck hunting great sport for January

With all the attention focused on deer recently during the rifle and late muzzleloader seasons, it’s easy to forget there are plenty of other hunting opportunities for Shenandoah Valley outdoorsmen. One such activity is duck hunting. Hunters in the western counties don’t have classic waterfowl setups like the vast saltwater and brackish marshes sportsmen enjoy in the eastern half of the state. But there are still plenty of opportunities to pursue waterfowl. Ponds and small lakes sometimes hold birds – if they are not frozen. Rivers and streams in western and central Virginia also offer good locations to bag a few ducks. Here are some tactics for the latter type of hunting, which you can use through the close of duck hunting season on Jan. 31. Flowing waters serve two roles for waterfowl. They are both feeding and resting areas. While rivers are sometimes productive in early season, they are especially good spots to try late in the year. At this time many ponds and lakes freeze solid and birds are forced to concentrate on flowages that remain open longer because of the moving current. A variety of tactics work for hunting river ducks, but three methods are most effective: jump shooting, float hunting, and setting out decoys. Sometimes I employ several of these methods in a single day, decoying early flights shortly after dawn, then float hunting a stretch of river. During the float trip, I might then pause to execute a stalk-hunt and jump shoot ducks spotted far downstream but in a location difficult to drift up to unseen in a boat. At other times, a given body of water will lend itself best to just one of the tactics. Here are some details to help you succeed with these three strategies. Sneak hunting from shore – This is useful on smaller creeks too shallow to float or medium-sized rivers with good cover along the bank. You need enough vegetation or a high enough bank that you can stalk within clean shooting range – preferably 30 yards or less – without being seen.  [full article]

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